World Cup series ends at Sale

THE Sale World Cup marked the end of the Australian League FEI Jumping World Cup 2018-19 season.

The event was moved to Saturday night ahead of Sunday’s predicted heat, with Queenslander Billy Raymont, riding Anton, the only entrant to have two clear rounds.

Local rider Andrew Lamb, on CP Argento, carried just one time penalty from the first round and posted a clear second round to finish runner-up.

Aaron Hadlow topped the leaderboard in impressive style. Hadlow, from Dapto, New South Wales, led the series by such a margin that the final standings were determined even before the first horse stepped into the ring at Sale.

What makes the win even more impressive is that Hadlow produced his winning mount, Vahlinvader, from a rising four-year-old and has taken the horse through its entire career to the pinnacle of the sport, FEI World Cup Jumping.

More than 50 riders took part in the World Cup Australian League this season, many of which are professional full time riders. Unlike some of his fellow competitors 31-year-old Hadlow does not work with horses full time and is relatively new to World Cup level, stepping up for the first time in 2016.

“I just keep pinching myself, keep thinking is this real, did this happen to me? It is a surreal feeling,” Hadlow said of the series win.

“I work from 8.30am until 5pm as an accounts receivable clerk and am up at 4am and ride again straight after work. I don’t get a lot of sleep.

“I am quite competitive by nature; it pushes me over the line and keeps me striving to be better. Whenever I do something I want to be the best.”

Adding to the accolades Hadlow’s horse, 11-year-old Vahlinvader, won the leading horse award, which recognises the highest ranked horse in the Australian League. Just like Hadlow, Vahlinvader made her debut at World Cup level in 2016 and has rocketed up the rankings surpassing horses with many more years experience.

“She was bred by Sue Smith and I asked if I could buy her outright as a six-year-old, as I thought if she became a good horse I didn’t want her to be put on the market. It hasn’t always been easy with her, she is a sensitive mare but she has a massive heart and loves to get out there and give it her all,” Hadlow said.

In winning the Australian League FEI Jumping World Cup, Hadlow has qualified to compete at the Jumping FEI World Cup final, to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, in April.