FORMER Olympian Russell Johnstone produced flawless rides to clinch the top two places at the Shipwreck Coast Showjumping Championships in Warrnambool.
Johnstone, a Whittlesea rider, steered his mounts Carlo and Borealis Centurion over 14 jumps to win the A-B grade section in a jump-off yesterday.
Carlo earned the Atlanta Olympian the top honours, finishing in quicker time than Borealis Centurion.
The performance handed Johnstone a second consecutive win in the annual competition. Last year’s triumph came aboard Borealis Centurion.
Carlo and Borealis Centurion were two of just four which completed Saturday’s first round without blemish, earning them a spot in the jump-off.
Former Warrnambool rider Jess Barton took third aboard Lamaz, which hit a rail yesterday.
She also rode Alondra into fourth, although attempting the wrong jump yesterday meant judges disqualified the combination in the jump-off.
Shipwreck Coast Showjumping Championships secretary Tony Woolley said the event went ahead in front of a solid crowd at Warrnambool racecourse.
He praised the help of the Warrnambool Racing Club which allowed the championships to run alongside Koroit Cup day at the Grafton Road course.
“It’s been a good day today and it’s been good for the jumping people that there’s a crowd watching,” Woolley said. “It’s brought colour, movement and spectacular jumping to the course.
“On a normal race meeting here there are very few. Today there would’ve been 300 people on the bank there.
“They’re watching the races, they’re going off to have the occasional bet and they’re watching the horses jumping.
“It tips the balance to get people to come on the Sunday.”
Woolley said about 50 horses contested the championships, although entry numbers were higher because horses could compete in two grades.
He said Mount Gambier’s staging of a showjumping event on the same day hindered entry numbers.
“For people this side of Melbourne, to Hamilton and down to Portland, it is certainly a popular one in terms of atmosphere at the track itself,” he said.
“We jump on front lawns in front of a racetrack. It’s lovely grass and a flat deck.
“Our numbers seem to be holding pretty well but I understand several years ago where there’s 25 or 26 in an event there might’ve been 40.”
Other class winners included Mortlake rider Kristy Haworth aboard Jingella Delta in the 21 and under section.
Hawkesdale’s Melissa Julius rode Another Sportsman to victory in the C-D grade section.
And Barton tasted success on Carisma in the D grade section.