GALLERY: Stitchel shows her class for elite equestrian win

SOUTH Australian eventer Jaimie Stitchel justified her status as a young rider to watch by winning the Lakes and Craters three-day event.

Stitchel, 18, and her horse Image Blue Ice finished with 88 penalty points to win the elite CCI three-star class at the Camperdown complex.

She was the only rider of two in the class to complete the dressage, cross-country and showjumping challenges.

Victorian Adam Benson retired his mount Enthusiast after it sustained a minor leg injury in the cross-country.

But Stitchel had a handy lead by that stage, having attracted 56 penalty points for dressage and a 28-point time penalty in cross-country.

She hit just one rail, taking a four-point penalty in an otherwise impressive showjumping performance in front of an appreciative crowd.

Event secretary Jen Best said Stitchel deserved credit for her performance, which ensured Image Blue Ice remained a three-star horse.

"There were a lot of eyes on her going into that showjumping round. She came in and she was cool and collected," Best said.

"She had her coach, Megan Jones, take her around the showjumping course. They took their time walking the course.

"Megan had obviously prepared her well but she had to come out and do a good job, which she did."

Organisers received about 260 entries, with record numbers in the preliminary and pre-novice classes.

"There were some very high quality horses, particularly in the pre-novice and one-star classes," Best said.

Other class winners included Rebekah McDougall and ESB Irish Patience in the CCI two-star.

Natalie Davies and Chatswood Captivate were the CIC two-star champions, while Emily McQueen and Kings Sun took the CCI one-star young rider honours.

The pre-novice honours went to Davies aboard Chatswood Design and Georgia Spangaro aboard Rangeview Farlander.

Emily Rink won junior pre-novice on Kirby Park Irish Empress, while there were four preliminary sections.

Airlia Munn and Thornton, Tim Ellis and Ellison Park Enzo, Elizabeth Kelly and Jack The Rippa and Jennifer Peck and Aurum Lithium took the wins.

afawkes@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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