“It was a long 10 hours in the truck, so you’re just hoping they go as well as you know they can,” says showjumper Katie Clark. The young rider made the journey from South Australia to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula to contest the World Wetlands Day Jumping Championships and the Australian Jumping Championships, run over consecutive weekends.
Katie’s off-the-track Thoroughbred, Katelle Grand, was faultless across three days and five classes at the first event. The weekend began with a placing and another top 10 finish, however, he and Katie saved their best until last in the Racing Victoria Off The Track Championship 105-110cm, where they topped a strong field of 23 competitors to claim the win in a thrilling jump-off against the clock.
“He was just sensational, he did everything I asked. I really opened him up in the jump-off, and he was a speed demon! I challenged him to the double and some of the turns, and he responded so well. It was exciting for us to hit new heights and I couldn’t be happier!”
Katie and Katelle Grand were one of three combinations to produce a double clear on the challenging track, completing the jump-off in 49.75 seconds. Second-placed Robert Palm and Honey Steels Gold, who clocked 50.57 seconds, were also clear, as were Isabella Lloyd and former champion steeplechaser Bashboy, who crossed the finish line in 53.18 seconds to place third.
Katie says while watching the combinations going ahead of her in the jump-off, she thought she had no hope of catching them. “They went so quick and I thought I’d just give it my best… who knew we were secret speed demons? I was so shocked and thrilled at the same time. It was amazing.”
Katie travelled to Victoria with her father, while the rest of the family watched on from home via Equestrian Life’s live stream. “Before I was off the horse they were on the phone to Dad and I could hear them yelling! The live stream was especially great for us, coming over from South Australia – and all the people that couldn’t make it but have been a part of our journey were able to watch.”
Katie explains in that in SA there are also specific Thoroughbred classes, but they rarely have fields as large as what was on offer at Boneo. “To see there were 20-plus horses in that Championship… it was a great class, with lots of great competitors. You look around, and they all used to be racehorses and now they’re here at Boneo all enjoying their jumping life – it’s fantastic to see.”