"COMETH the hour, cometh the man", must surely have been the adage in the minds of riders and spectators at this year's Australian International Three-Day-Event in the Adelaide parklands.
In a drama-filled week, rider Will Enzinger broke his leg in a fall from one of his young horses just days before he was due to compete in the four-star event on TS Jamaimo. Australian Olympian Chris Burton, now based in the United Kingdom but here to watch Adelaide's famous international event, rose to the occasion when asked to take the ride, climbed on board Jamaimo for the first time on Wednesday, and on Sunday was presented with the winner's sash and a cheque for $34,000.
It was the culmination of a series of dramas which unfolded around this year's event.
Unfortunately several of them involved SA competitors, with real four-star chances Megan Jones and Wendy Schaeffer both forced to withdraw in the final few days, Megan because of an injury to her horse Kirby Park Allofasudden, and Wendy after breaking her leg (it must be catching) in a fall during a training session. In addition, top two-star prospect Jade Kluske was also a late scratching with an injured horse.
The two-star class was won by Cassie Lowe on Koko Doro, after a remarkably consistent performance - third after the dressage phase, second after the cross-country, and then moving into first placing when Stuart Tinney unfortunately pulled one rail in the showjumping. Stuart had led throughout on Annapurna, and showjumping also proved to be his downfall later in the four-star event, where he suffered a similar fate.
However, take nothing away from Cassie - she rode beautifully in a polished performance and certainly deserved her win. Crystal Conning and Mustang finished third, with Shane Rose on Shanghai Joe fourth, moving up from 18th place after the dressage phase with a brilliant ride across country. The highest ranked South Australian was Dominic Jones on Paint The Sky, taking ninth placing.
A dramatic finish in the four-star was assured when the top six riders went into the showjumping phase with less than one rail separating them.
Clear rounds were extremely hard to come by, with fallen rails displacing overnight leaders Stuart Tinney and Shane Rose to fifth and fourth places respectively, and last year's winner Craig Barrett and Sandhills Brillaire collecting the very last rail to deny them another win and drop them to third.. The only two clear rounds from the six leaders went to Chris Burton, the unexpected competitor, riding TS Jamaimo, and WA star Sonja Johnson on Belfast Mojito, which moved them into the top two placings.
The weekend was another triumph for event organisers, for cross-country designer Wayne Copping - who supervised last-minute preparations from his hospital bed after suffering a heart attack the previous week - and for the hard-working and dedicated competitors.
Adelaide's four-star 3DE is firmly entrenched in the top ranks of international eventing, and its superb city and parkland setting make it unique in the world.
SA rider Anthony Thomas, Maitland, is pictured on Southern Warlock. They finished the cross-country clear on jumping and time.
*Full report in Stock Journal, November 21 issue, 2013.