Australian Megan Jones withdraws from WEG after ‘flight from hell’

  • The Australian eventing squad for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games has suffered a blow with the news that Megan Jones’s ride Kirby Park Irish Jester has had to be withdrawn after falling ill during the journey from Australia.

    The Southern Hemisphere-based horses had what Mark Phillips descibes as the “flight from hell” in next week’s Horse & Hound, travelling via Singapore and Anchorage to Los Angeles, where Jester had to be kept back while the other horses went on.

    A statement on the Australian federation website today reads: “While Jester has recovered well in the last 24 hours, for him to make the next leg of the journey from Los Angeles to Lexington and then compete 4* would be an unacceptable risk for the horse.”

    Megan has also described what happened on her own website.

    Kirby Park Irish Jester is 17 years old and has been a valued member of the Australian team, providing a counting team score for both the team bronze in Aachen 2006 and the silver at the 2008 Olympics, where he was fourth individually.

    Megan will be replaced by US-based rider Peter Atkins, 45, and Henry Jota Hampton who “had been on standby should an unfortunate scenario such as this occur”, said the statement.

    Henry Jota Hampton is a nine-year-old who finished 23rd in his first four-star at Kentucky this spring after a poor dressage, but a clear across country with just 4.8 time-penalties and one showjump down.

    The statement concludes: “Our best wishes go to Megan and Jester for a very safe trip home after the end of the competition. Megan will now be able to spend her time in Kentucky cheering for the Australian Team, and eating deep fried cheesecake, which is one of the many deep fried foods on offer throughout the Horse Park!”

    Buy H&H this week (23 September) for our WEG preview and next week (30 September) for Mark Phillips’s thoughts on the eventing teams to watch, plus 2004 Olympic champion Leslie Law’s thoughts on the cross-country course.

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