The show jumping we had hoped would produce a clear round, because Bold Venture has a great track record. Bold Venture has been 4* for the last two years and in all that time he has only had two rails down. Unfortunately, this show jumping track at Pratoni del Vivario just surprised everyone, including Bold Venture, and this time he had three rails down in just one competition. So Shenae finished on a score of 47.1 penalties and in 29th place. With a young combination as brilliant as Shenae and Bold Venture, I guess I along with lots of other people barely dared to think that, just maybe, the World Championships might fall her way and she would win. It was just a tiny thought in everyone’s mind. It didn’t happen, but I am still not taking my money off her; I think she’s a good bet for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED
In years gone by, I have had conversations with different riders and coaches including Shane Rose and Wayne Roycroft, and both have said that up until the year 2000, the Australian eventing riders brought more horsemanship, riding skills and a competitiveness to eventing than any other country. We had great horses in the Thoroughbreds and we could ride them better than riders from any other nation. We would beat the rest of the world and win three consecutive Olympic team gold medals because we were better riders.
Today, things have changed. Our riders are still just as good, but the northern hemisphere riders are as good, and rapidly evolving into better and better riders. We are now flat out trying to keep up with them. The northern hemisphere riders have, however, now got superior horses to what the average Australian is riding. We used to win gold medals because we were better riders; today the northern hemisphere riders are just as good and have better horses. We need to recognise this part of the equation in the ‘better horses’ aspect and we need to produce guidelines to all of our Australian-based riders on just what they should be looking for in terms of their next Olympic horse. These guidelines should be promoted not just to our top riders but also to mums and dads who have a child who is showing talent and has ambitions to ride at the top.
Right now, of course, I am referring to the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games. So we are specifically needing parents with, I guess, 12-year-old kids upwards to understand that special jumping horses are now a prerequisite for their kids to graduate on to an Australian Olympic team. This does not necessarily mean that the horses are now very, very expensive. It means horses have to be bought more astutely. These jumping horses are not necessarily more expensive. Without question, these horses will exist in Australia and surprise, surprise, probably in reasonable numbers.
In Australia, lots of people have enough land to breed a foal and some of these people breed two or three and then there are crazy people like me, who are expecting 20 foals this season all of them seriously thought out. We don’t have the industry that revolves around eventing as they do in the northern hemisphere and so the horses are not anywhere near as expensive as they are in the northern hemisphere. They are affordable, especially when they are really young.
I think that when studying the top horses at the World Championships, it quickly becomes evident that most of the top horses are bred for the job. Most of the genetics are here in Australia. At the moment the top eventing horses the world over have genetics that are heavily influenced by the straight show jumping genetics. You do need jumping lines that are tough and that can gallop. Some of the really beautiful show jumpers are only good for a round or two of show jumping before they tire. These lines can be very successful in the show jumping ring but struggle to make a contribution to the eventing world. It is tricky, but these horses are here in Australia – it’s just identifying them and pairing them with the right riders. EQ
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE TO READ:
Thoroughbreds in Their Element – Equestrian Life, October 2022