Glory for Team Willinga Park at AJTL Final
December 8, 2019

Yesterday afternoon saw the running of the fourth and final leg of the Australian Jumping Teams League (AJTL) series for 2019 at SIEC, in Sydney, as part of the Chatham Park Summer Showjumping Classic CSI2*-W event. With $100,000 to be split among the top eight teams in today’s leg and a further $80,000 to be distributed among the three leading teams for the overall Series, which six of the ten teams still had a chance of winning, the pressure was always going to be high. This was one of the richest single classes held in the history of Jumping in Australia and it kept the large crowds enthralled right until the end.

With only three of the four members of each team able to compete in each round, we are sure that many factors were taken into account when teams were deciding on who would represent them in the final round. Before we see how the day unfolded, let’s take a look at how the teams lined up for the final leg.

Team Horsepower (HOR): Jess Brown, Erin Buswell (U25) and Clem Smith. After recovering from a fall at the Australian Championships, Clem Smith returns to the team replacing James Mooney.

Team Equine International Airfreight (EIA): James Arkins, Elliott Reeves (U25) and Chris Chugg. This team is unchanged from Leg 3, with Gabrielle Kuna again sitting out.

Team Yandoo Park (YAN): Jamie Winning-Kermond, Madeline Sinderberry (U25) and Melissa Blair. This team also remains unchanged with Jamie Kermond on the sidelines for this leg.

Team Martin Collins Australia (MAR): Brook Dobbin, Jamie Priestley (U25) and Rhys Stones. Another unchanged team Merrick Ubank misses out on a ride in leg 4.

Team Willinga Park (WIL): Katie Laurie, Brooke Langbecker (U25) and Billy Raymont. Once again, another team with the same three riders representing it as in Leg 3 at Sale. David Cameron is the unlucky rider to miss out

Team Emcee Apparel (EMC): Amanda Madigan, Jess Tripp (U25) and Jennifer Wood. This team which is leading the Series heading into the final leg, has just one change. The experienced Amanda Madigan who rode in legs 1 and 2 without incurring a single penalty returns at the expense of one of the U25 riders Jessie Rice-Ward.

Team Takapoto Estate Showjumping (TAK): Paul Brent, Will Dight (U25) and Olivia Hamood. This team is unchanged from Leg 3. Clint Beresford again sits this one out.

Team Chatham Park (CHA): Kate Hinschen (U25) Amelia Douglass (U25) and Tom McDermott. This team which won Leg 3 sees one change from that winning trio with Kate Hinschen replacing Amber Fuller.

Team Kiernan Haulage (KIE): Andrew Lamb, Jasmine Dennison (U25) and Russell Johnstone. The Leg 2 winning team are unchanged from their line-up in Leg 3. Brooke Campbell misses out on a Leg 4 while she recovers from a broken ankle.

Team Oaks Sport Horses (OAK): Alison Rowland, Aaron Hadlow and Izabella Stone (U25). Stephen Dingwall drops out for this leg and is replaced by Aaron Hadlow.

As a reminder, here is series point score after the first three legs, heading into the final round:

POS. TEAM R1 R2 R3 Tot
1st Team Emcee Apparel 20 10 15 45
2nd Team Willinga Park 15 8 17 40
3rd Team Chatham Park 6 12 20 38
4th Team Oaks Sport Horses 8 17 8 33
5th Team Equine International Airfreight 12 15 5 32
6th Team Kiernan Haulage 5 20 6 31
7th Team Yandoo Park 17 5 3 25
8th Team Takapoto Estate Showjumping 10 4 10 24
9th Team Martin Collins Australia 4 3 12 19
10th Team Horsepower 3 6 4 13

With a large VIP marque filled to capacity and spectators surrounding the huge grass arena at SIEC on two more sides, the scene resembled some of the best European jumping arenas. As a prelude to the final, the members of each team were announced and presented to the crowd, with the biggest cheer being reserved for the leaders, the all-female Team Emcee Apparel. With a lead of five points over team Willinga Park, Team Emcee Apparel could guarantee the win with either a first or second place today. However, a finishing place of third or lower would open opportunities for other teams further down the table to strike for victory.

Round One

The first combination out on course was Jess Brown and Coachella who set the tone with a wonderful clear round proving that renowned international course builder Leopoldo Palacios had not set the riders too hard a task.

After all thirty combinations had competed in Round One, the record showed that there had been 12 clear rounds, the fastest by Russell Johnstone (KIE) and Daprice. For the leading teams Amanda Madigan (EMC) took her first rail of the Series, but with her teammates, Jess Tripp and Jennifer Wood going clear, they finished Round One on a total of four penalties. This performance was equaled by Team Willinga Park with a single rail being taken by Katie Laurie and clears to Brooke Langbecker and Billy Raymont, however, with a slightly slower aggregate time, they had to be content with second place at the half-way mark.

Third place was held down by Team Chatham Park, which also had clear rounds by Tom McDermott (his seventh in the AJTL) and Kate Hinschen, with Amelia Douglass having a refusal and incurring two-time penalties to see them on a total of six. Fittingly, the top three teams in the overall Series leaderboard going into the final leg, were the top three teams, in order, at the half-way mark of that leg.

Team Yandoo Park and Team Horsepower, who were having their best leg of the entire Series were back in fourth and fifth place having taken two rails each, incurring eight penalties.

The following table lists the number of penalties incurred by each combination in Round One.

Rider Team R1
Jess Brown HOR 0
James Arkins EIA 4
Jamie Winning-Kermond YAN 4
Brook Dobbin MAR 10
Katie Laurie WIL 4
Amanda Madigan EMC 4
Paul Brent TAK 0
Kate Hinschen (U25) CHA 0
Andrew Lamb KIE 8
Alison Rowland OAK 12
Erin Buswell (U25) HOR 8
Elliott Reeves (U25) EIA 4
Madi Sinderberry (U25) YAN 4
James Priestley (U25) MAR 8
Brooke Langbecker (U25) WIL 0
Jess Tripp (U25) EMC 0
Will Dight (U25) TAK 8
Amelia Douglass (U25) CHA 6
Jasmine Dennison (U25) KIE 22
Aaron Hadlow OAK 0
Clem Smith HOR 0
Chris Chugg EIA 4
Melissa Blair YAN 0
Rhys Stones MAR 4
Billy Raymont WIL 0
Jennifer Wood EMC 0
Olivia Hamood TAK 12
Tom McDermott CHA 0
Russell Johnstone KIE 0
Izabella Stone (U25) OAK 4

By combining the above scores for each team, the full team standings after Round One were as follows:

1st Team Emcee Apparel 4
2nd Team Willinga Park 4
3rd Team Chatham Park 6
4th Team Yandoo Park 8
5th Team Horsepower 8
6th Team Equine International Airfreight 12
7th Team Oaks Sport Horses 16
8th Team Takapoto Estate Showjumping 20
9th Team Martin Collins Australia 22
10th Team Kiernan Haulage 30

Unfortunately for Team Martin Collins Australia and Team Kiernan Haulage, under the AJTL competition rules, only the top eight teams are eligible to continue to Round Two. With just a single rail separating the top five teams, it looked like the final leg was going to be an absolute nail-biter!

Round Two

Coming out in seeded order, the situation grew even more intriguing after each team’s first rider had completed Round Two. Jess Brown again went clear to keep Team Horsepower in the hunt on a total of eight, however Jamie Winning-Kermond (YAN) took a rail to move her team up to 12. Kate Hinchen (CHA) incured a single time penalty, while Katie Laurie kept Team Willinga Park in the lead with a clear round. Amanda Madigan then got her chance to go clear and keep Team Emcee Apparel tied with Team Willinga Park, however a rail took them to a total of eight.

After four rides, the top five placed teams were Team Willinga Park on 4, Team Chatham Park on 7, Team Emcee Apparel and Team Horsepower on 8 and Team Yandoo Park dropping off the pace on 12.

The next stage of Round Two saw the under 25 riders from each team ride and once again, the landscaped changed almost after every ride. Erin Buswell (HOR) took a rail to move them to 12, however Madeline Sinderberry (YAN) took two rails, to drop her team back into the pack. Amelia Douglass (CHA) recovered from her Round One ride to record a clear, putting the pressure squarely in the face of Brooke Langbecker (WIL). Langbecker rode a magnificent clear round to keep Team Willinga Park in the lead. Next to go was Jess Tripp from Team Emcee Apparel, who, unfortunately for them, took a few rails and a couple of time penalties to incur a total of 14, meaning that their chance of victory in this leg was on very shaky ground.

With just one rider to go for each team, there were only three teams left in the competition with a realistic chance of winning the leg. Team Willinga Park were leading, still on just the four penalties. Team Chatham Park were three points back on seven, however, notably within a rail of the lead. Team Horsepower were in third on 12, ready to pounce should either of the first two get the wobbles.

Last rider out for Team Horsepower was Clem Smith who needed a clear round to keep his team in with a chance of winning, however it was not to be. A rail at the last and a single time penalty saw Team Horsepower move to total of 17. Unless the two leaders made major mistakes, they could not win, however, 17 was enough to earn them third place when the scores were sorted out at the end of the event.

Last to go for team Chatham Park was Tom McDermott and his lovely mare Elegance de la Charmille. He rode a brilliant round to again go clear, his eighth of the Series, and in doing so kept the pressure right on Team Willinga Park, which were the next team to go.

As Billy Raymont and Anton entered the arena, the excitement and tension were palpable. It is unlikely that there has ever been a higher pressure ride in the history of the sport in Australia, and certainly not one worth as much prize money. Raymont had two options available to him. He could complete the course incurring less than two penalties to secure not only the leg win for Team Willinga, but ensure that his team won the whole series and therefore take home $44,000 of the $80,000 Series prizemoney. Alternatively, he could take a rail (or more). This would mean that Team Chatham Park would win the leg, which would give them enough points to secure the overall series, relegating Team Willinga to second place in each. With a total prizemoney differential of $40,000, Raymont had quite a decision to make.

He and Anton rode a measured careful round. If the spectators were riding with him every step of the way, then it was nothing compared to the animated contortions of his teammates as they physically willed them over every jump. Raymont, himself looked as if they were out for a Sunday afternoon stroll in the park. The pressure didn’t show and in the end, he made the right decision by his teammates – a clear round with just a single time penalty to secure the win in both the leg and the Series.

After Round Two, the penalty count for each rider was as follows:

Rider Team R1 R2 TOT
Paul Brent TAK 0 4 4
Alison Rowland OAK 12 1 13
James Arkins EIA 4 0 4
Jess Brown HOR 0 0 0
Jamie Winning-Kermond YAN 4 4 8
Kate Hinschen (U25) CHA 0 1 1
Katie Laurie WIL 4 0 4
Amanda Madigan EMC 4 4 8
Will Dight (U25) TAK 8 9 17
Aaron Hadlow OAK 0 0 0
Elliott Reeves (U25) EIA 4 8 12
Erin Buswell (U25) HOR 8 4 12
Madeline Sinderberry (U25) YAN 4 8 12
Amelia Douglass (U25) CHA 6 0 6
Brooke Langbecker (U25) WIL 0 0 0
Jess Tripp (U25) EMC 0 14 14
Olivia Hamood TAK 12 5 17
Izabella Stone (U25) OAK 4 4 8
Chris Chugg EIA 4 0 0
Clem Smith HOR 0 5 5
Melissa Blair YAN 0 0 0
Tom McDermott CHA 0 0 0
Billy Raymont WIL 0 1 1
Jennifer Wood EMC 0 0 0

Based on these individual scores, team positions and totals after Round Two were:

1st Team Willinga Park 4 1 5
2nd Team Chatham Park 6 1 7
3rd Team Horsepower 8 9 17
4th Team Equine International Airfreight 12 8 20
5th Team Yandoo 8 12 20
6th Team Oaks Sport Horses 16 5 21
7th Team Emcee Apparel 4 18 22
8th Team Takapoto Estate Showjumping 20 18 38

The final results for Leg 4 are as follows:

POS. TEAM Prize Money Points
1st Team Willinga Park $40,000 20
2nd Team Chatham Park $20,000 17
3rd Team Horsepower $12,500 15
4th Team Equine International Airfreight $10,000 12
5th Team Yandoo $7,500 10
6th Team Oaks Sport Horses $5,000 8
7th Team Emcee Apparel $2,500 6
8th Team Takapoto Estate Showjumping $2,500 5
9th Team Martin Collins Australia 4
10th Team Kiernan Haulage 3

Below is the series point score at the conclusion of the Series:

POS. TEAM R1 R2 R3 R4 Tot
1st Team Willinga Park 15 8 17 20 60
2nd Team Chatham Park 6 12 20 17 55
3rd Team Emcee Apparel 20 10 15 6 51
4th Team Equine International Airfreight 12 15 5 12 44
5th Team Oaks Sport Horses 8 17 8 8 41
6th Team Yandoo Park 17 5 3 10 35
7th Team Kiernan Haulage 5 20 6 3 34
8th Team Takapoto Estate Showjumping 10 4 10 5 29
9th Team Horsepower 3 6 4 15 28
10th Team Martin Collins Australia 4 3 12 4 23

The $80,000 series prize money was split 55%, 30% and 15%, so Team Willinga Park won $44,000, Team Chatham Park $24,000 and Team Emcee Apparel $12,000.