Countryman repeat win for Ludgate

Bob Garnant and Christina SlaterCountryman

The exhilarating equine sport of showjumping lifted the crowd's spirits at the Perth Royal Show as generous applause followed every leap of horsemanship faith.

In perfect conditions, the Countryman Memorial Cup, although limited in entries was certainly not compromised in quality.

The nine-horse field had no less than three previous winning riders vying for a shot to repeat history, including Nellandra Henry, Shawn Squire and last year's winner, Chaise Ludgate.

The event was judged over two rounds with faults being cumulative and second round time used to calculate the places.

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Ludgate set the benchmark with a clear first round, sending her into round two with three other riders on no jumping faults.

The 24-year-old was on her favourite mount, Barrabadeen Wotz-Up, and both horse and rider could do no wrong as they cleared two jumping rounds and made faster time than the other competitors.

Ludgate, who is owner and manager of the Barrabadeen stud, was thrilled to back up her win of last year when she rode Barrabadeen Tycoon.

"Wotz-Up is in top form, winning the A and B State title recently," she said.

Announcer Christina Slater said Ludgate was a worthy winner of the cup, an event that continues the pursuit of excellence with past winners including six-time champion David Dobson.

"It was Bill Slater's dream to bring such an event to the forefront in memory of a great horse called Countryman," Christina said.

Bred by Bob and Hope Russel, of Kojonup, the chestnut gelding, sired by TB Prince Valor, was supreme champion at the Perth Royal Show in 1965.

After being awarded with the champion garland, Ludgate said it was a great day to honour a horse that was so well known.

Christina said the multi-awarded Countryman began a successful showing career with then owner John Houson, who was active on the polo cross circuit.

Recognising the horses jumping ability, it was Kerry Applin who campaigned the horse at major showjumping events in WA.

Then, after Catching Rachel Pardoe's eye, the horse's reins were handed to her daughter, Christina Slater.

Slater in turn soon won all 4-Part II classes at the Perth Royal and went on to set a new puissance record of 6ft 4in.

Olympian Kevin Bacon was next to ride Countryman to victory, winning the Prince of Wales Cup at the Melbourne Royal.

And the list went on with a win in the speed event at the Brisbane Royal before returning to Perth as a Part I competitor, and setting another jump record of 6ft 7in which was shared on equal terms with Geoff Harley who competed on Springtime.

Countryman was retired to the Slaters' farm in Wongan Hills where the champion lived out his remaining days.

The Countryman Memorial, which began at the 1995 Perth Royal, is one of the most prestigious events on the WA showjumping calendar.

The Slaters are thrilled that the event, which is so well supported by the Royal Agricultural Society, continues to bring top riders to showcase the great sport that it is.

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