Garryowen to Gisborne

Catherine Neill and her winning ride, SLM Mercedes.

Catherine Neill and her winning ride, SLM Mercedes.

Gisborne horsewoman Catherine Neill won the most prestigious riding event for women in Australia, the Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout, riding former racehorse SLM Mercedes at the Royal Melbourne Show on Sunday.

Catherine said when accepting the award, that the win was unexpected but very welcome.

"It is mindblowing, I can't put it into words but it's a great honour," she said, before adding that she had long-admired her winning ride before purchasing him over a year ago.

"I've had (SLM Mercedes) for 18 months - he was basically my dream horse and he's been an amazing horse for me. He had a good workout this morning but I couldn't have asked anything more from him. He was amazing."

The Garryowen, which was first held in 1934, honours Mrs Violet Murrell who tragically died at age 29 while trying to save her three-time Royal Melbourne Show champion saddle horse, Garryowen, from a stable fire.

Second place was awarded to Jess Stalling riding DP Polo, with third place awarded to Rebecca Farrow on Stage Presence, for the second year running. Twenty-three riders competed for the Garryowen trophy this year. The event is open to female riders aged 18 years and over and a panel of six experts judges each rider and horse on conformation and soundness; manners and paces; saddlery; costume; riding ability; and general appearance.

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