Story courtesy of Equestrian Australia , Photo by Stephen Mowbray – 27 April 2018

An ex-racehorse that had just three starts, was beaten a collective 40 lengths and never finished past another horse defeated a field of some of Australia’s most talented Eventers today to win the Young Event Horse Championship at the Sydney International Horse Trials.

The former Keith Dryden trained gelding, Our Congrats, won the 4YO Young Event Horse Championship and went on to win the overall competition against five and six-year-olds, some of which were regally and purpose bred Warmblood imports.

‘Charlie’, as he is fondly known, has only been in work since January and is taking to his new pursuit like a duck to water.

His owner and rider Merran Wallis picked him up out of ex-jockey Chynna Marston’s ‘Recycled Racehorses’ stable  in South Eastern NSW 12 months ago and is now aiming him for bigger and better things in the competition arena.

“When I selected him he had already been off the track for two months and without any schooling he could walk, trot and canter on both leads and had a good mouth and feet which are all the things you look for.”

“I was hoping he would do well today. He’s just started this year. He’s a really nice young horse and very trainable as well. I was hoping he would behave today and he did,” said Merran.

Like every owner and rider dreams, Merran is hoping that one day ‘Charlie’ might make 4* level, the pinnacle of the sport of Eventing.

“It’s a matter of whether he is brave enough and sound enough. You can never tell until you get there.”

One man who has climbed that mountain many times is Shane Rose who was also competing today. With his FEI World Equestrian Games prospect Virgil he took the lead after today’s Dressage phase in the CNC3* class with a score of 69.72% . The in-form Emma Mason and Warrego Marco Polo trail landed in second placing (67.12%).

In the CCI3* Victorian rider Amanda Ross finished in front after Dressage with her black Thoroughbred mare Koko Popping Candy (72.82%) and Christine Bates and Adelaide Hill are just behind her on 72.37 % going into cross-country day tomorrow.

For all results from the opening day of competition at the 2018 Sydney International Horse Trials go to https://www.nominate.com.au/equest/nsw/results/Syd0418.htm and for tomorrow’s cross-country draws visit http://sydneyeventing.org/