PLUS: HEATH RYAN EYES PARIS QUALIFICATIONS, TOM QUILTY WINNER ASHLEY COLE, QUIET ACHIEVER CHARLOTTE PEDERSEN, PONY DRESSAGE WITH ALISON GILL, PREVIEWING THE YOUNG HORSE CHAMPS, ROGER FITZHARDINGE’S HEADSHAKER, KERRY MACK ON PERFECTING PIROUETTES, KEEPING HORSES ON SAFARI, LADY GAGA & DJANGO UNCHAINED.
AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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A Few Words
FROM THE PUBLISHER
LET THE QUALIFYING GAMES BEGIN
BY HEATH RYAN
THE EQUINE MAGIC BEHIND OUTBACK SPECTACULAR
BY ADELE SEVERS
FROM BACKSTEP TO DRIVING FORCE
BY ADELE SEVERS
FAB FOUR EARN OUR TICKET TO PARIS
BY ADELE SEVERS
AUSSIES ON THE WORLD STAGE AT ERMELO
BY ADELE SEVERS
AN ENDURING PARTNERSHIP
BY ADELE SEVERS
‘DJANGO UNCHAINED’ BEHIND THE CURTAIN
BY SUZY JARRATT
JEREMY HAS ME SCRATCHING MY HEAD
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
CHARLOTTE PEDERSEN, THE QUIET ACHIEVER
BY MIM COLEMAN
BEING A HORSE IN AFRICA
BY DR MAXINE BRAIN
ALISON & DENALI RAISE THE PONY PROFILE
BY ROGER FITZHADINGE
THE LADY WHO LOVES HORSES
BY BERNARD BALE
BY DR KERRY MACK
Image by Leanjo de Koster for the FEI.
Riding for your country is the dream of many. In July, four show jumpers received an important call-up: jump for Australia and secure your country’s team slot at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. No pressure!
The Aussie team included Chef d’Equipe Todd Hinde, Christopher Burton, Edwina Tops-Alexander, Lauren Balcomb and Hilary Scott. Image by Leanjo de Koster for the FEI.
Hilary Scott and homebred Oaks Milky Way flying high for Australia at Valkenswaard. Image by Leanjo de Koster for the FEI.
The FEI Olympic Team Jumping Qualifier for Group G nations took place at Valkenswaard in the Netherlands, and saw Australia face off against New Zealand, Japan and China, with the top two placed countries securing their Olympic berth. The Australian team was comprised of Edwina Tops-Alexander, Chris Burton, Hilary Scott and Lauren Balcomb.
Edwina Tops-Alexander, a four-time Olympian, partnered with 13-year-old KWPN gelding Fellow Castlefield – by Je T’Aime Flamenco out of a Twister mare – on her home turf, while Chris Burton partnered with a horse formerly ridden by Edwina, Chedington Hazy Toulana; the 11-year-old KWPN mare is by Toulon out of Mariska. A two-time Olympian for Australia in the sport of eventing, it was Chris’ first start on an Australian jumping team. Hilary Scott saddled up Oaks Milky Way, a 16-year-old grey mare by Clearway out of a Jalisco B mare, who was bred here in Australia by Hilary’s mum, Alice Cameron, of Oaks Sport Horses. Hilary and Oaks Milky Way represented Australia at the 2022 FEI World Championships in Herning, Denmark. Edwina, Chris and Hilary are all based in Europe.
Fourth team member Lauren Balcomb made the trip all the way from her home base in the US with equine partner Verdini D’Houtveld Z, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood by Verdi TN out of a Caretino 2 mare.
So the pressure was on at Valkenswaard – and the Aussie team delivered. The fantastic four finished round one on a total of seven faults, just one fault clear of Japan but with a considerable gap to New Zealand and China. The second round caught many combinations out across all teams; however, Australia was able to extend its lead, ultimately finishing on a winning total of 23 penalties, ahead of Japan (32), New Zealand (46), and China (59). A start at the Paris Olympic Games was in the bag, and the pressure was off.
“The pressure was on at Valkenswaard…”
Dual Olympian Chris Burton and Chedington Hazy Toulana. Image by Leanjo de Koster for the FEI.
Four-time Olympian Edwina Tops-Alexander riding Fellow Castlefield. Image by Leanjo de Koster for the FEI.
BEST ON GROUND
Lauren Balcomb and Verdini D’Houtveld Z were the best-performed combination across the entire competition with just one rail down – the last fence in the second round. The pair have been notching up many impressive results on the US circuit, and when the call came through to jump for Australia in Valkenswaard, Lauren didn’t hesitate.
“There was certainly a lot of pressure flying over to try and secure a spot for Australia in the Paris Olympics! Dini and I know each other very well and we had a good preparation leading up to the event. He is feeling in top form, and I was very hopeful that my score would contribute to securing our position,” she says. There is no doubt that it did.
Lauren and Dini flew over especially for the qualifier, and they will now head back home to the US. “We have had a lot of FEI events in the States to do and he will do a couple more shows, and then have a holiday,” explains Lauren.
Dini certainly appears to be a special horse, and Lauren is full of praise for the gelding. “He most definitely is a superstar! Everything is special about him. He absolutely loves his job; he has the most amazing work ethic and is brave and confident. Has the biggest heart and on top of that is the sweetest horse. You really couldn’t ask for a better partner!”
Like Chris Burton, Lauren hails from an eventing background. When she purchased Dini as a six-year-old in 2017, the plan was to take him eventing: “I bought Dini in Belgium from Steve Tinti. He was competing in showjumping as a six-year-old. I was looking for a nice young horse to produce as a three-day eventer. We all thought that was going be his job and he loved it. After close to a year of eventing, he was jumping too well and so we switched him back to the jumper ring!”
Not short of talent, Dini qualified for the Tokyo Olympics under the New Zealand flag with Lauren’s husband Sharn Wordley in the saddle, while Lauren was pregnant with their daughter, Poppy. The couple’s second child, Arlo, was then due right at the time of the 2022 FEI World Championships. It now looks as though Paris could be Lauren and Dini’s time to shine.
“Paris is the goal!” says Lauren. “The show plan for the rest of the year is to go to Mexico to do five shows at CSI3* and CSI5* level in October and November. After that we have some more CSI3* and CSI4* shows to do in the US in December, and then we are going to come back to Australia and New Zealand for Christmas.”
American based duo Lauren Balcomb and Verdini d'Houtveld Z. Image by Leanjo de Koster for the FEI.
With an Australian jumping team now assured a start at Paris, 2024 will no doubt be an exciting year not only for Lauren, but any Australian show jumper with plans of throwing their hat in the ring. And we have our terrific team effort at Valkenswaard to thank for that! EQ