Thousands Flock to Opening Day of EQUITANA Melbourne
It’s back! The lines were long well before the gates opened at EQUITANA Melbourne this morning with punters excited to see the return of the iconic event after a four-year hiatus.
Some of those in line had bought their tickets in 2019, others had travelled for days to be at the front of the queue, keen to cast their eyes on the 250-plus brands in the hundreds of square metres of retail, watch the competition over multiple disciplines, learn from some of the best, be entertained at one of the sell-out night shows, and just generally soak up the atmosphere.
Around 30,000 people are expected through the gates over the four days, with 250 volunteers helping bring it all together, and that pleases EQUITANA managing director Rod Lockwood.
“It has been a long road to getting the gates of EQUITANA open this morning,” says Rod. “The agricultural community and equine industry have been through so much since 2018 when we last conducted our event. There has been a lot of worry and concern about keeping our business afloat and remaining in a position to be able to present this year’s EQUITANA. Cancellations in 2020 and 2021 were devastating and the lack of income that went with those cancellations is a reflection of what we have all been through. When I look back and also consider what so many people have been through personally and with their businesses through COVID and then fires and floods, it makes me realise that we are actually lucky, because, despite the hard times, we made it through.”
Today saw the opening of competition across the disciplines with Jessica Dertell and Eskava De Jeu winning the Goodbye Flys CDI-W Grand Prix on 68.152%, with Lindsey Wave aboard Aristede second on 64.631%, and Mary Nitschke on Utopian Cardinal third with 64.304%.
In the showjumping, Ally Lamb and Eagle Rock took the win in the 1.4m mini prix, ahead of Clem Smith on Oaks Conjuror in second and Shane Rose with Easy Turn in third.
Clem Smith and Quantico 12 ruled in the David Sheppard-designed 1.3m class, heading home Jess Stones on Chatina in second and Chloe Versteegen aboard Cera Quantero in third.
The very popular Mitavite TWOTH (The Way of the Horse) is making history at EQUITANA this year as the first-ever time as an all-female affair. The horsewomen – Skye Liikanen, Hayley Hinton and Steph Lancefield – had their first interactions with the very athletic three-year-old unhandled Connemara cross fillies under the watchful eyes of judges Scott Keach, Bruce O’Dell and Phil Webb.
The women will have just an hour a day to work with the youngsters before the final on Sunday.
This evening’s Off the Track Jumping Masterclass with Olympians Scott Keach and James Paterson-Robinson is a complete sell-out and will bring to a close a fantastic opening day at the long-awaited EQUITANA Melbourne.
Rod Lockwood tipped his hat to all the loyal supporters, attendees, exhibitors and education presenters. “And here we all are – the exhibition is looking great, the education programme is first class and our ticket sales and support is strong. I would like to offer my personal thanks to all of these great people and businesses.”
EQUITANA Melbourne is owned by a family business like so many of the exhibitors. “We understand what they have been through, and we also respect the investment that it takes to come to Melbourne with your stock and your team.”