Off the Track stars shine

24 June 2022 Written by Celia Purdey

The Sydney International Three Day Event (3DE), held in early May, served as an important competition ahead of the FEI Eventing World Championships at Pratoni Del Vivaro, Italy later this year. The VRC partnered with the event to recognise off-the-track thoroughbreds competing at the prestigious competition.

In the world of eventing, the Sydney International Three Day Event is an important date on the Australian calendar. It has classes from grassroots levels through to CCI4*, incorporating hundreds of competitors, including Australia’s leading riders and horses. All competitors benefitted, with top-quality cross-country courses, international judges and the great atmosphere that comes with a major competition.

Winning the VRC Best Performed Thoroughbred award in the CCI3*L division was Shane Rose riding his off the track galloper Matrixx.

Matrixx raced as Biaxial, having six starts for David Pfeiffer and Ben Robinson. A son of Teofilo, he descends from 1991 Melbourne Cup runner Sunshine Sally. An Australian Olympian, Rose also won the CCI4*S on Virgil, who he rode in Tokyo at last year’s Olympics in team eventing and individual eventing, winning silver.

Rose is a huge supporter of thoroughbreds, calling them the “backbone of eventing”.

“The fact that they’re accessible, [and] they’re so good to train. They’re very helpful, they want to do the sport for us. Like good racehorses, they want to win.”

Cage Fighter and rider Sam Woods won the VRC award in the CCI4*L. Cage Fighter raced as Cagey with Matthew Smith, winning twice in his career. It was Sam’s second time winning the award, having also won it with Cage Fighter last year.

Woods believes Cagey’s name is very fitting. “He is a fighter. One of those guys that just bites down on the mouthguard and gets the job done. He’s got a real thoroughbred ticker about him.”

Tim Boland, best known in the racing world as the owner and manager of Limitless Lodge, is also an active three-day event rider. He echoes the sentiments of Rose and Woods about thoroughbreds. “Thoroughbreds are my life. We’ve got 200 horses across three farms and a great team of staff working them, spelling them, breaking them in. We’ve had some famous horses come through the farm and we’ve had some terrific trainers and owners. The most famous of all was Winx. Winx was bought at the Magic Millions Sales, came to my farm to be spelled, broken in and pre-trained so we had her for a long time … yeah, she was a little ripper.”

Attracting almost as much attention as the horses at the event was the Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy, with many excited to see the iconic Cup up close.

The Cup’s presence may not be the only Lexus Melbourne Cup connection to eventing, with 2018 Melbourne Cup runner Vengeur Masque being retrained as an eventer. Formerly trained by Mike Moroney at Flemington, the French import is enjoying his first season out. Katherine Simpson was in attendance at the Sydney International 3DE and is the new rider of Vengeur Masque. “He’s got enormous talent for the sport, so [his owner] is hoping to have a bit of success with him over the next few years.”