News / 28 November 2018

Equestrian politics not affecting Australian Olympic Goals

Athletes ignoring political distractions

While the equine politics of Australia ebb and flow, members of the Australian equine community should be heartened that the push to improve Australia’s world position and prepare for the Tokyo Olympics will not be derailed by politics.

“At the Tokyo Olympics, Australia will be well represented with quality horses and athletes in Eventing, Showjumping and Dressage,” says Terry Snow of Willinga Park. “Whilst the administration seems to be wrangling over points of order, constitutions and all those things that keep committees busy, the ground roots of the Australian equine community are pushing ahead with Tokyo in mind. I believe that we will have our best team in Eventing, our outstanding Showjumping combinations and a surging Dressage team which I’m confident will elevate our world standings.”

Australia’s outstanding Showjumping team took sixth in the World Equestrian Games at Tryon, and the Australian Dressage team did exceptionally well, placing eighth in the world, improving their international position. This is a great tribute to the individual athletes moving ahead with their sport.

Australia is very strong in Eventing, with some of the best athletes in the world. Willinga Park Equestrian Centre is behind Hazel Shannon who rides Willinga Park Clifford and recently won the only 4* event in the Southern Hemisphere earlier this month. It’s a prestigious event, and this is her second time to take first place, the first for any combination. Hazel has now added one of the leading horses in Europe to her stable, the famous Cooley SRS. This horse came second in the world prestige Badminton 4* Event this year and is one of the leading horses in the world.

After the World Equestrian Games, one of Australia’s leading Dressage athletes, Mr Brett Parbery, acquired two outstanding Grand Prix horses from Europe. Mr Parbery is now training those horses at Willinga Park and hopes to represent Australia at Tokyo.

Eventing safety is also in today’s headlines and donations to improve the safety of cross-country courses have made great improvements. Safety initiatives such as frangible pins, safety cups that allow jumps to quickly drop when pressure is applied to them by a horse, have been funded at multiple venues by Willinga Park.

“Willinga Park is optimistic about where Australia is going,” says Mr Snow. “The athletes are enthusiastic and putting in the hard work. We support Sport Australia in their attempts to rationalise governance for the betterment of equestrian sport. It is our understanding that Sport Australia is seeking to bring the federation towards a proven governance structure, that has been successfully rolled out across other Olympic sports. The antiquated model of states controlling a national body has proven to be a failure, and it is important that we have sport being run in the interest of the athletes and their horses, rather than the state. The states running the national body is like the inmates running the asylum. The equestrian community needs the financial support of the government through a properly-set-up national body.”

About Willinga Park

Willinga Park is a world-class equestrian centre set on 41 Hectares of the NSW South Coast.

Combining stunning architecture, sculptures, and a native botanical garden, it houses the latest in equine technology, has been home to numerous equine sporting events, and has been used as a film set and for photo shoots. Its facilities include luxury stables, commercial cattle stud facilities and extensive facilities for the agistment and training of horses. Willinga Park also has Hereford cattle with some of the best breeding in the country. Each year, Willinga Park hosts several community-wide events and premier equine sporting competitions across dressage, showjumping and campdrafting. Willinga Park fully supports Australia’s athletes across equestrian disciplines and aims to fully support future Australian Olympians.

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