Adelaide, Australia—Nov. 6
When it came down to the final jumping phase of today’s Adelaide CCI****, cross-country leader Hazel Shannon had considerable room to move with Clifford.
They could have knocked down three rails and still won, but the Thoroughbred gelding that “always does his job” did just that and added nothing further to his dressage score than 0.4 of a cross-country time penalty. Clifford clearly knew where the rails were and, most importantly, kept away from them.
“That’s Clifford to a tee,” explained Shannon. “He is not extravagant in any phase. He just does his job, and I can’t ask for more than that. There is a huge amount of training that has gone into Clifford, but his temperament is such that he allows you to train him. It is not just about raw talent, it is the heart and the mind of the horse that matters, and this was just another day at the office for Clifford. He keeps trying and trying, and getting better and better.”
In the end, Shannon and Clifford cruised home to a popular victory 14.50 penalties ahead of their nearest rival.
“My aim is to keep getting better,” continued the 24-year-old Shannon from the far north Queensland town of Mutchilda, who when she finished high school went straight to the Ryans Equestrian Centre in Newcastle, in the southeastern state of New South Wales. She has been at the centre, which is managed by husband and wife team Heath and Rozzie Ryan, for the past six and a half years.
Wendy Ward, Clifford’s owner, is the Ryans’ next door neighbor. “There is no way I could have done this without Heath,” said Shannon.
The top three places in today’s jumping phase stayed the same, with Will Enzinger holding on to second place despite a disappointing three rails down. He also rode Britannica MVNZ into fourth place with just the addition of a further four penalties.
“He was a bit off today, but I am over the moon”, says Enzinger of his Wenlock Aquifer. “Some of the more experienced horses are not here because of the Olympic Games, but we are here, and all our horses have made great progress. For us, the Adelaide FEI Classics is the pinnacle of the sport, and there is nothing like this in the world.”
The 24-year-old professional Andrew Cooper looked a picture in the final jumping phase, but two rails on the floor added a further eight to his score on Evergem Perfection, placing him third. Nonetheless he represents the new guard of top-level eventers along with Shannon and Enzinger.
Three other combinations jumped clear in this tough final jumping phase. Rohan Luxmoore, who has declared that he “is living the dream” by competing at Adelaide for the first time went clear riding his Bells ’N Whistles, finishing fifth.
Stuart Tinney looked impressive on War Hawk to take sixth place, with the sixth clear round coming from Tegan Lush and her Jetball Thoroughbred gelding Tempis Fugit who placed seventh.
Full results can be found here.
Watch a wrap up from FEI TV below.