FORMER Woolsthorpe showjumper Jamie Kermond has claimed his first Australian championship.
Kermond, 28, and his mount Caracas scored top honours in the championships at Werribee Park Equestrian Centre on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
The pairing beat Queenslander Clem Smith and his mount Guru in a jump-off after both finished with eight penalty points after three rounds.
Smith went first in the jump-off but knocked a rail, which paved the way for Kermond to claim the title with a clear run — one of just two for the event.
Kermond, who these days lives at Ebenezer, 70 kilometres north-west of Sydney, said he was rapt with the triumph.
“This is a class I’ve really wanted to win for the last few years. I’ve always set my sights on it,” he said.
Kermond said Caracas was an eight-year-old grey stallion which had little experience over jumps as high as 1.6 metres.
“He has a lot of potential but I’ve never jumped him in anything of that height. He was learning as he went,” he said.
“It was the first time I’ve won. I’ve started in the class four times before and had a second and two thirds. It’s nice to crack the win.”
The Australian championships also served as a qualifier for 2014 World Equestrian Games at Normandy, France.
Kermond said Caracas’ performance earned the horse a “certificate of capability” for the Games, from August 23 to September 7.
By having the certificate, the pair become eligible to vie for an Australian squad berth at selection shows in Europe in June and July.
A strong performance at Normandy will then bring them into contention for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“I love horses, I love the sport. I really want to represent my country at the Olympics,” Kermond said.
“I can’t run 100 metres in under 10 seconds but I think I’m a good rider. Hopefully one day I can make the Olympics and be successful.”
Kermond also took third place aboard 12-year-old stallion Valhalla III. He retired a third entry, 13-year-old mare Colthaga, with one round to go. He was one of two south-west riders to score success during the biggest week in Australian showjumping.
Grassmere rider Tim Clarke, 32, won the grand prix on Sunday, the main of three aspects of the championships.
Clarke and 10-year-old mare Caltango finished with four penalty points, which also earned the horse a certificate of capability.
But disappointing results on Thursday and Saturday meant they were out of contention for overall honours, finishing fifth.
“The weather on the first couple of days wasn’t the best but the ground held up and on Sunday it was perfect,” Clarke said.
“She was on song, she jumped a treat. She handled jumps easy and was alert and ready to jump.”