The British rider rode at the event because of his friendship with Australia’s Tim Boland, with whom he works on selling horses between the two countries. Tim offered him the ride on Napoleon, an 11-year-old son of APH Spiegel, for the class.
“He was a beautiful horse to sit on to start with and I felt like he has everything,” said Oliver. “He’s got the movement for definite, the jump for definite and now I know he’s got the stamina.”
Oliver rode Napoleon just three times before arriving on site at Adelaide, including winning a 1.30m speed class. But he made an impact in the class from the start with a dressage score of 44.9 for second place.
“Napoleon was very professional and relaxed,” said Oliver. “I was positively surprised by how he was.”
That evening the pair produced the only showjumping clear in the time to take the lead.
“We showjumped late in front of a beautiful old-fashioned grandstand [pictured above] and to jump the only clear in the time was very special,” said the rider.
The next day Oliver went on to record 13.2 cross-country time-faults to secure victory. Oliver explained that riding the course was an experience unlike anything he had known before — the event is right in Adelaide’s city centre, with several road crossings.
“It’s unique — I’ve never ridden in a place like that,” he said.
Oliver and Napoleon finished 3.8 penalties clear of the home side’s Megan Jones on Kirby Park Impress in second, with New Zealand’s Samantha Felton third on Ricker Ridge Pico Boo.
It is unusual for European-based riders to compete at Adelaide, although last year Britain’s Alice Dunsdon completed the CCI4* there with Fernhill Present, completing a remarkable quest as the horse had to undergo stringent quarantine requirements.
Read more about Oliver’s Adelaide win in H&H next week (issue dated 17 November).