Blue Lake Sports Park transformed into its own community over the long weekend when the Mount Gambier Showjumping Club reintroduced its famous Easter Carnival.
Hundreds of horses and riders from all over the country flocked to the complex to take part in the 38th running of the four-day event, which returned after a year off due to COVID-19. Mount Gambier Showjumping Club president David Johnson said the committee was very appreciative of the support to make the comeback such a big success.
“We are very happy and the support from riders, grooms, sponsors, volunteers, parents and the local community was tremendous,” he said. “To be honest we did not envisage the numbers we received, so we had an excellent carnival.”
There were plenty of highlights over four days and 52 events of jumping. On Friday Jep Frapant and Lara Pizimolas took home the Welcome Stakes to open proceedings on ring one.
Saturday saw the David Clark Memorial and Frida Lindgren rode Nicolossi to victory. Local Libby Halliday won Class 1.2, while Sarah Willoughby also took out Class 2.2. Limestone Coast’s Kristy Bruhn enjoyed a number of strong finishes including second place with James’ Bentley in the prestigious John Wilsher Memorial Blue Lake Stakes.
The showpiece event went to Philip Lever, who road BP Jedak Du Rouet flawlessly. The City Of Mount Gambier Senior Grand Prix is always an event not to miss and Anthony Thomas put on a show aboard Sl Donato to secure title.
For the first time in the event’s 39-year history two rings were used with the velodrome out of action. Instead two baseball diamonds were utilised and Johnson said everyone loved riding on the two courses designed by FEI Level 3 CD Michael Hease and adjudicated by FEI Level 3 judge Kevin Taranto.
“The feedback was actually very good and a lot of people thought it was better than the velodrome which was huge,” he said. The unexpected success means Johnson said he can certainly see a future where both the velodrome and baseball diamonds are used in future festivals. “We had planned for two rings next year, but we brought that forward and the committee knocked it out of the park to help us reach the collective goal,” he said.
“One of the big things you get from the velodrome is every viewing position is elevated and you get to see the whole arena which we missed. “But what you get with the diamonds are the beautiful trees around it and watching the David Clark memorial on Saturday had a real picnic race day feel about it and was wonderful enjoying the ambiance.
“The intent and feedback from everyone we spoke to loved the second ring and would love us to continue to do it. “So our challenge is to deliver on our commitment to make the baseball diamonds return to how they were which is what we will do.”
Another advantage of the extra ring was the chance for many young local or travelling riders to take on the jumps themselves. After big crowds also watched the beautiful horses tackle the tricky jumps, Johnson said the event’s future is promising.
“The relationships we have with the baseball, cycling and South Gambier Football clubs meant we were able to put on a really good show,” he said. “Many thought it was a nice and friendly competition. “There are big opportunities for all associations in the future.”