Hazel Shannon and WillingaPark Clifford are now the first-ever combination to win the Australian International CCI4* three-day event twice.
WillingaPark Clifford is a 13-year-old Thoroughbred Gelding sired by Passing Shot out of a Double Income mare, Twin Pearls. He showed why he’s known as one of the toughest horses on the competition circuit, taking this unprecedented win in a tough international competition.
Sitting fifth after dressage on a score of 66.09% and just 4.6 penalties from the dressage leader, Katie Taliana and Trevalgar II, Hazel said she was happy with where she was placed and knows that her strength is always on the cross-country course and in the showjumping arena.
Cross-country day is always electric at the only 4* event in the Southern Hemisphere, with Adelaide once again turning it on. Englishman Mike Etherington Smith, the international cross-country course designer, really turned up the degree of difficulty this year, with all riders commenting that time was going to play a major role.
Clifford and Hazel shone through, coming home clean jumping with just 17.6 time penalties. All that walked the cross-country course were right, it was a tough day out for the horses, and only three riders came home clean jumping, and no one made the time. 50% of the field were either eliminated or retired on course. At the end of day two, there had been some major shifts in the leaderboard; Hazel was sitting second, just 4.3 penalty points behind the new leader, New Zealand-based rider, Amanda Pottinger.
Showjumping is always the toughest of the days. After successfully passing his vet check, Clifford was feeling fresh and ready to go. Just before heading into the arena, Clifford over-reached and pulled a front shoe, but there wasn’t time for the farrier to re-shoe him. Clifford the legend, soldiered on to jump his round, missing a front shoe with eight jumping penalties and one-time penalty for a total of nine. You could hear a pin drop as Amanda and Just Kidding took to the course, she had three rails up her sleeve, however with two late rails and two-time penalties, Hazel Shannon and WillingaPark Clifford won for the second time on a penalty score of 59.50 just 3.7 penalties in front of Amanda Pottinger and the NZ Thoroughbred Just kidding.
Hazel was ecstatic with the win saying, “I’m just so proud of what we’ve done together. Clifford is my best mate, and I always know he’ll try his hardest. He was actually a bit fresh heading into the jumping round, and that’s why I felt he had those two rails. Luckily for me, today was my day, and I cannot believe that I’ve now won this amazing event twice. I can’t thank my coach Heath and Rozie Ryan for all their hard work and effort they have put into me over the past years, also to WillingaPark Clifford’s owner Terry Snow and the team at Willinga Park.”
When asked what’s next Hazel said she’s not entirely sure. However, there is talk of heading to Kentucky in 2019 and all going to plan, she hopes to be a contender for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.