14 November 2021

Duke of Edinburgh's royal spirit tipped to reign over Holbrook horse event

| Sally Hopman
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Horse and carriages

Ross Carbery and his wife Miriam Bentley were invited to take part in the Windsor Horse Show in 2019. Photo: Supplied.

The Queen has honoured a group of horse and carriage drivers in rural NSW by allowing them to award a trophy, in memory of her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh, at their upcoming national show.

Billed as the largest event of its kind in Australia, the three-day Battle of the Border horse and carriage show will feature the nation’s best 80 riders and 130 horses.

The award for the highest point-scorer in the Combined Driving Event will receive the “His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021 Memorial Perpetual Trophy”.

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Miriam Bentley is organising the event with her husband Ross Carbery, on the family’s 200ha property near Holbrook, along with friends Lorraine and Paul Cairns.

Miriam said they were delighted to be able to honour the Duke, whose love for the sport of carriage riding was well-known both as a competitor and patron.

“I wrote to the Queen in May, asking if we could name the perpetual trophy after the Duke of Edinburgh,” she said.

“We got a letter back from her Private Secretary suggesting I contact the NSW Government, Governor-General and the State Governor. Then two days ago, we got the letter saying it had been approved.”

Typed letter

Good news for Miriam Bentley – approval to name the perpetual trophy after His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh. Photo: Supplied.

Royal connections are not new for Miriam and her husband: Ross was invited to compete in the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2019 where Miriam groomed for him.

“He did really well,” she said. “Coming in about 16th out of 100.

“Prince Edward was there and he came up and congratulated us because he must have heard we came all the way from Australia to compete.”

She said they also saw the Duke of Edinburgh on the day, following the eventers in a car.

Plans are now well under way for the Battle of the Border, with Miriam saying she was overwhelmed by the interest shown in the event with riders from Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and NSW keen to sign up for the competition.

“There has never been an event like this in Australia,” she said. “And that’s what we set out to create. We closed the book when we got to 60 competitors but, with the waiting list, we ended up with 80.

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“We have competed a lot overseas and we wanted this event to be like an international event. No-one has ever done this before.”

Because of the number of competitors, the event will stretch over three days instead of two. The first two will feature dressage and cone driving, where horse and rider pit their skills against the clock. This will be followed by the marathon on the third day, which is also judged on time.

The cone event is all about precision driving, with horse and human driving through up to 22 cones in a set pattern, against the clock, without knocking anything over – even though the distance between some cones may be only 10cm.

The marathon is also a real test with a 5.5km trot through difficult terrain, followed by a walk of about 800 metres. Then the horse will be vet-tested to make sure it is OK before everyone takes a break. Then they have to do another 6km through an obstacle course, which involves a number of twists and turns.

Not for the faint-hearted, carriage driving is the ultimate test for rider and horse, Miriam said.

“Yes, it can be dangerous. But it allows you to test your own ability working with the horse. It’s a personal thing. For us, it is a competitive thing, others just get into the sport to have fun.”

The Battle of the Border event, hosted by the Border Carriage Club, will be held from December 10-12 at Carbery Estate, Lumeah, 13813 Hume Highway, Mullengandra. Events will start at 8 am each day.

Trade and food stalls will be available for spectators. Admission is free.


Original Article published by Sally Hopman on About Regional.

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