EQUITANA Melbourne is taking showjumping to new heights with the introduction of the $120,000 Australian Open. The biggest prize pool in Australia combined with shifting the competition to the highly-rated outdoor “Rowville Competition Arena” will bring the top showjumpers from around Australia believes Showjumping Director Kevin Hansen.
“For years jumping riders have asked for better surfaces and EQUITANA has tried very hard to provide that on the indoor but when you consider the cross over between reining, dressage, jumping and other activities, it hasn’t really worked,” says Hansen. “Jumpers need firmness, softness and springiness, and it is a real challenge to get that just right.”
“The outdoor surface at the Showgrounds is regarded as one of the best in the country and used each year for the Melbourne Royal.”
The 1.45m-1.5m EQUITANA Australian Open Grand Prix Jumping will be held on Friday at 5pm in the Rowville Competition Arena, Hansen is expecting the 3500 seats in the surrounding stands it to fill fast.
EQUITANA Melbourne follows right behind the Australian Showjumping Championships, which are being held just down the road at Boneo Park.
“We will provide the most exciting showjumping competition there is to ensure our top riders stay in Melbourne for EQUITANA,” says Hansen.
As well as the Open there will be a 1.4m opening class on the Thursday morning in the Rowville Outdoor Arena, a 16-strong pair’s slalom and an $80,000 puissance in the evening as part of the Full Flight entertainment in the Aqualuma Grand Pavilion, and a 1.3m class on Friday afternoon outdoors. The puissance – high jump for horses – is an essential part of Australia’s showjumping history, but not seen as often these days. EQUITANA is offering $80,000 to whoever can beat Gavin Chester’s Australian record of 2m 32.41 cm by two or more centimetres. It will be limited to just eight of the very best combinations.
“There is a lot going on between that and the pair’s slalom on Thursday,” says Hansen. “The slalom is like a tennis tournament, will be just 1m high and is a thrilling head-to-head race for both competitors and spectators.”
This year is EQUITANA’s 20th birthday and plans are afoot to make it truly special. Event Director Rod Lockwood is promising much for the 2018 edition, including news it will be physically, the biggest EQUITANA ever. The event runs from November 15-18 at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Tickets go on sale in July.
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