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Craig Barrett wins Adelaide on his first completion at four-star

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Craig Barrett won the final four-star of 2012, at Adelaide, Australia, last weekend (22-25 November).

Riding 10-year-old mare Sandhills Brillaire (pictured), Craig — a 42-year-old professional rider from New South Wales — became the first person to simultaneously win a four-star and take the HSBC training bursary for a first completion at the level.

This victory was particularly special for Craig and his wife — Australian performance director Prue Barrett — because they bred both Sandhills Brillaire and both her parents.

Craig bred the mare’s sire, Staccato — by Salute out of a thoroughbred mare by King Of Babylon — and Prue bred her dam, by Galveston. Staccato, now 20, also sired last year’s Adelaide winner Panamera, ridden by Stuart Tinney.

“I don’t know if that has ever been done before”, commented Craig. “I have a paddock full of them; I’m not sure if they are as good as Brillaire, but we have to look at purpose breeding horses.”

Craig’s win places him second in the HSBC FEI Classics standings, behind Burghley winner Andrew Nicholson.

Small field

Just 14 four-star combinations started at Adelaide, after one was lost at the first horse inspection. This was slightly disappointing as while this event has long had smaller entries than the northern hemisphere CCI****s, there were 31 starters in both 2011 and 2009, although 2010 and 2008 were smaller years with 19 combinations apiece. The Horseland CCI** was well supported with 54 starters.

Shane Rose led the CCI**** after dressage on 45.8 with APH Moritz, with Craig Barrett second on his other ride Wendela Jamie and Stuart Tinney third on Pluto Mia.

Wayne Copping’s cross-country track was shortened by about 30sec in deference to the expected high temperatures on cross-country day, while organisers also ordered extra ice and water trucks and installed water-spraying archways and sprinklers for cooling the horses.

Stuart Tinney was the first rider to fall foul of the bogey fence at 13 — a triple brush arrowhead sited in water just a stride after the horses came off a dark island shrouded in shadows from trees.

British technical delegate Alec Lochore explained: “There was definitely something the horses didn’t quite understand. Some horses jumped it beautifully, but it was more than just a coincidence that six horses ran out to the side. It could have been the jump into water, or the light and the shade.”

Craig also had problems here on Wendela Jamie, while Shane retired after two stops elsewhere on course.

Remarkably, just two of the starters managed clear jumping rounds, with Craig’s 0.8 time-faults on Sandhills Brillaire propelling him up the order ahead of Natalie Blundell, who had 5.6 time-penalties on Algebra. Murray Lamperd — one of three to complete with 20 jumping penalties — moved up to third on Under The Clocks.

Eight horses completed the cross-country, with one failing to make it through the final trot-up. None of the remaining seven showjumped clear, but the leading three all held their positions, with Craig’s one fence down and three time-faults the best performance.

20,000 spectators

A number of British-based riders were at Adelaide offering course-walks and masterclasses, including William Fox-Pitt, Andrew Hoy, Sam Griffiths, Christopher Burton, Clayton Fredericks and Paul Tapner.

Event director Gillian Rolton declared the event an outstanding success, with nearly 20,000 people attending across the four days.

“The Australian International 3-Day Event has continued to prove itself as one of the world’s greatest equestrian events, with spectators treated to world-class riding over three, action-packed days,” she said.

Gillian added that the local South Australian Government and Adelaide City Council are both now fully behind the event, which takes place in parks in the centre of the city.

“Running this event is a huge commitment, but we need an event of this stature in this country,” she said.