A Day At the Races

26 Nov

Adelaide hosts one of the world’s important international horse competitions. For eleven months riders compete in a series of dressage, cross-country and jumping finals held all over the world.  Among the finalists from this competition will be a few of the riders on the Olympic team. The three-day event in Adelaide covers dressage, cross-country racing and jumping for all of Australia.  We watched cross-country.

There are two levels of riders and horses, two star and four star. The two star riders tend to be younger and less experienced than the four star, top of the competition. The horses in the four star competition are the best in the world.

It is a sunny, 75 degree day as we seek out a good vantage point for the races. Jumps are set up in Adelaide’s Rundle and Victoria Parks in the parklands surrounding the city. Jumps include a small canal (about 3 feet across) that bisects the parkland. Many jumps are six feet tall built of wood and topped by thatch. The width of the jumps vary from a log’s width to 6 to 7 feet.

Competitors take off at four-minute intervals, riding a course with twenty-nine jumps. They are scored for jump completion and total time elapsed for the ride. If their horse refuses a jump three times in a row, they are out of the competition. The athleticism of the riders is palpable.

We found seats on a slate-topped wall in a petunia bed which had the added advantage of being a natural coolant on this warm day. Each set of races ran for about two hours, two-star in the morning, four-star in the afternoon. We were right next to the track and could hear the hoofs on the sod as the magnificent horses pounded by.

After the show some of the horses and riders were there so that the crowd, especially the kids, could see them up close. The combination of the horses and riders and the weather with the Jacaranda trees in bloom made for a great day at the races.

4 Responses to “A Day At the Races”

  1. obie November 27, 2012 at 1:46 am #

    Jill, did you get a chance to ride the horses during the events? 😉 After all, you did the skydiving so what’s a little jumping on horses! 😉

    • Jill November 27, 2012 at 2:17 am #

      I tried but they seemed to think I had to qualify or something. No qualifications needed for skydiving. Just wild abandon.

  2. Ursula Freer November 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    What beautiful animals! I used to jump in my early teens in Europe.

    • Jill November 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

      The horses were so powerful. Many of the riders were young women, especially in the two star. The four star course had additional jumps that were much more difficult. It was surprising how few falls there were.

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