Saturday was our fifth day of competition where the first of two big days of final rounds were scheduled. Action on the main arena kicked off with the final round of the Yandoo Equestrian Services Ruby Series. The top 21 combinations after the first two rounds of competition earlier in the show lined up for today’s final round, which saw the competitors tackle a very challenging course. In fact, there were no clears in today’s first round, which saw the top 10 invited back for a second round all carrying faults with them. Over the shorter course, four combinations were able to go clear, three of which were carrying just four penalties from round one and they had the podium to themselves. The fastest time of these and the win went to the experienced Queenslander Clem Smith and his gelding QUANTICO 12, backing up from their win in Round 1 on Tuesday. Their finishing time was 56.10 seconds. Second place went to a combination which were placed third in last year’s Australian Young Rider Championship, Ginger Jilly and DIAMOND B VANCOUVER, finishing in 57.08 seconds. In third place with a time of 58.49 seconds were Russell Johnstone and CANTARA.

After this class, placings in the overall Series were announced. In a very tight contest, the consistency of Olivia Hamood and YIRRKALA CASSEY were rewarded with them being crowned champions of the Ruby Series. They finished in third place in the first two rounds before a fifth place in today’s final. Second place in the Series went to Carly Overton and PABELLO who finished ninth, and second before today’s fourth placing. The next three combinations could not be separated, all finishing locked on 12 penalties for the series. The following combinations were all awarded a share of third place: Final round winners Clem Smith and QUANTICO 12, Olivia Hamood and YIRRKALA MISS DARCY, and Russell Johnstone and CANTARA. It was a fantastic series, with the placings dominated by Queenslanders and special congratulations goes to Olivia Hamood for picking up the win as well as a share of third place.

The next class on the Main Arena, was the first of our big Championship Finals. In a competition held over two rounds, the top 14 combinations after the preliminary rounds lined up to determine the Australian Young Rider Champions. In this final round, the win went to the Victorian combination of Jack Barker and TULARA COLCHIC, who seem to be sweeping all before them this year. They finished today’s two rounds with a total of four penalties after achieving one of a handful of second round clears. Second place went to Tilley Fair and OAKS CONSTANTINO, who had six penalties in today’s first round, but followed it up with another clear second round. Third place, with a total of eight penalties, made up of a rail in each round, went to Anneliese Wansey and TEXAS. It was an entertaining class, over a high standard course, of the type that these Young Riders should expect to face if they kick-on with their careers.

After this class, there was a presentation for the winning combination in the overall Young Rider Championship. In a remarkable performance, the 2022 winning rider Clemency Hughes repeated her success by again taking out the championship, this time with YPH CAPULET. Clemency won the second round of competition on Thursday and placed fifth in the other two rounds. Second place in the championship went to 16-year-old Victorian Jack Barker and TULARA COLCHIC, winners of today’s final round. Third place in the championship went to another visiting combination from Victoria, Tilley Fair and OAKS CONSTANTINO, who brought themselves right into contention in the series, by their brilliant second place today.
Then it was time for the big one. Nineteen of the best combinations going around lined in the final round of the 2023 Australian Senior Championship. Over a challenging course, there were only three clears, but all that changed when the top 15 returned for a second round. Taking just a single rail over the two rounds and finishing the second round in 57.36 seconds, the win in this class went to Tom McDermott and COOLEY GANGSTER. Also finishing on a total of four faults, but in a time of 62.07 seconds were the winners of Round 1 on Tuesday Stuart Jenkins and FAIRVIEW ALICANA. Taking a rail in the first round today, then incurring a single time penalty in the second ride, Phillip Lever and BILLIONAIRE NZPH finished on a total of 5 penalties and settled in third.

After the final round, it was announced that the 2023 Australian Senior Championship has been won by Stuart Jenkins and the 9-year-old mare that he bred, FAIRVIEW ALICANA. This pair were a model of consistency across the three days of competition, winning round 1, finishing second today and coming in fourth in round 2. Phillip Lever and BILLIONAIRE NZPH secured a pair of third placings and a seventh, finishing the series on a total of eight points which earnt them second place overall. Last year’s winning rider Tom McDermott and the horse on which he also finished in eighth place in 2022, COOLEY GANGSTER, were third in this year’s championship. Before today, they had also finished eighth in the first two rounds, however the win in today’s final sent them shooting up the leaderboard into third place overall.

The first day of finals action concluded with the traditional Saturday evening running of the Australian Speed Championship. Very appropriately sponsored by Litt Racing, a total of 11 combinations put their names down to vie for a share of the $3,750 prize money on offer, which provided great entertainment for the large crowd of spectators who gathered to watch and cheer the competitors on. None of the 11 got around the course without at least a rail and they all went fast, however, one went much faster than the others. Stopping the clock with a raw time of 60.40 seconds was Hayden Parker and TULARA SPANGENBURG, however, with two rails down, their adjusted time was 68.40, which was enough to take the win. Previous winner of this class Clem Smith steered QUANTICO 12 around the course, just taking a single rail to finish on 72.96 seconds. Courtney Scott and SECOND CHANCE with an adjusted time of 75.37 seconds, after taking two rails came in third.

Just 10 combinations lined up for the first of our final rounds scheduled on the Pryde’s Easifeed Arena Two. The TSHA Series final round was conducted as a competition over two rounds, which saw the win going to the only combination to record a pair of clear rounds. Young Victoria rider Lucy Borrack and her gelding OSCAR BOSCAIOLA could not be stopped and took out a well-deserved win. Both second and third placings finished tied on a two-round total of four faults. A time of 38.72 seconds in Round 2 secured second place for Lori James and RESTAURANTEUR SHP, while third place went to Lily-Rose Baxter and FOXHILL CRUISE finishing in 41.99 seconds.

The TSHA series overall placings were the same as in today’s final round. The winners of the 2023 TSHA Series are Lucy Borrack and OSCAR BOSCAIOLA. Lucy and her gelding had a great series, which included five clear rounds out of five rides and thoroughly deserve their win. They came into today’s final tied in the lead on zero penalties and with a double clear today, they gave none of their rivals a chance. Second place in the series went to ex-jockey Lori James and RESTAURANTEUR SHP. They were tied for the lead coming into the final, however a rail in what was a very fast second round relegated them to second. In third place were Lily-Rose Baxter and FOXHILL CRUISE, who carried four faults into today’s final and added another four to finish on a total of eight.

The final round of the Verband Stallions Emerald Series for Young Horses was the second final on the Pryde’s Easifeed Arena Two today. Eleven of the 27 combinations on the start list were invited back for a second round, which produced a trio of double clears so the judge had to resort to times to sort out the placings on the podium. A very rapid round two of 37.22 seconds snared the win today for Tyrone Latham and mare CHRISTALOU. Melissa Blair and CONDOR recorded a time of 44.29 seconds to secure second place while Aaron Hadlow and EQUUS CLUNY we relegated to third in a time of 44.56 seconds. It was high quality jumping from these horses aged less than eight-years and we look forward to seeing how they progress as they mature.

A fourth place finish in the final round of the Emerald Series for Young horses was enough to secure the Series win for Jessica Stalling and mare KANNTINA. They were rewarded for their consistency, with finishes in second and fourth place over the earlier two rounds. The runner-up position in the series went to Samantha Dernee and GLENARA LEONARDO Z who came into today’s leading the series after wins in both earlier rounds, however, a pair of rails in today’s second round proved costly. Jess Brown and OAKS SIERRA who improved over the course of the series, finishing ninth, seventh and then fifth respectively in each outing, were rewarded with third place in the series.

The final round of the Open section of the GPI racing Emerald Series was the next final decided. The top 27 combinations based on performances in the two qualifying rounds earlier in the week made up the start list for this class, decided over two rounds. At the end of two rounds, there were three combinations still on zero penaties and they fought out the podium based on times. Fastest Round 2 performance was put in by local combination Jasmine Spira and ROSTHWAITE BALOUCHI, who finished in 41.43 seconds. In second place, with a time of 42 seconds precisely, was dual Olympian James Paterson-Robinson and KAMPARI. Marginally behind, stopping the clock at 42.50 seconds were Brad Frankum and his gelding WARRALEIGH PARK UMBRAYAS.

Congratulations to the winner and all the placegetters:

The winners overall winners of the Open section of the Emerald Series this year are James Paterson-Robinson and KAMPARI. They had a slow start to the series finishing the first round in eighteenth position, but subsequent third and second placings saw them motor to the top of the leaderboard. They carried seven penalties into today’s final and did not add to that total. Second in the Series were Natalie Mohr and TALBOT CECE. They were very consistent across the three rounds of competition finishing sixth, seventh and then eighth today. Third place in the Series went to Olivia Wiesener and QI DAO NH. Like the second placegetters, this combination did not star in any particular round of the competition, however their consistency paid off. They accumulated placings of eleventh, sixth and then fifth today, only adding four penalties to the five they carried into the final round.

The winners of the final class in the Amateur Series were Victoria Montano and JELLYSTONE PARK CINZANO. Sponsored by The Priestley Family, today’s class saw the best performed 23 combinations across the first two amateur classes compete in a two round class to determine the final positions in the Series. Only three combinations today achieved a double clear which meant they did not add to the penalties they carried into today’s final round. A scintillating round 2 time of just 41.75 seconds gave the win to Victoria and JELLYSTONE PARK CINZANO. In second place were Rebecca Bates and WHF COLIN FRISSELL who stopped the clock at 47.04 and in a close third position were Sarah Dodd and OAKS CARMINE, with a time of 48.14 seconds.

The Australian Championships Amateur Series has been won by Jessica Bott and the OTT mare RAISE AN ANGEL. They finished fourth in today’s final class, but before that recorded a thirteenth place in Round 1 before winning Round 2. They carried two penalties into the final and added a single time fault incurred in the second round. Rapid improvement across the three rounds rewarded Rebecca Bates and WHF COLIN FRISSELL with overall second place in the Series. After a slow start in Round 1 where they were fourteenth, a fourth in Round 2 and second place in today’s final rocketed them up the leaderboard. Third place in the series went to Sarah Dodd and OAKS CARMINE, which was secured by virtue of fifth, fourteenth and third placings across the three rounds.

The action on the Pryde’s Easifeed Arena Two wrapped up with the running of a consolation class open to combinations entered in the Junior Championship but did not qualify for this morning’s final round. A total of 20 combinations entered this one round class with six putting up clear rounds. The win, with a time of 58.78 seconds went to Charlie Magnier and MASTER STEVIE G. Stopping the clock at 61.62 seconds for second were Alexandra Inglis and GLENARA AFFOGATO, while Jake Tomlinson and VINCHINO had to settle for third, with a time of 65.15 seconds.

It was a great first day of finals and we look forward to what tomorrow, the final day of the championships.