This year marks 90th year milestone in nation’s most prestigious turn-out event for hacks, the Garryowen

Bernie Hearn, her husband, and their two sons share more than 50 years of competition and history in the showjumping arena at the Melbourne Royal Show. Now taking the reins for the first year as Melbourne Royal’s Horses in Action Committee Chair, Bernie is preparing for the 2024 Melbourne Royal Horses in Action Competition – and aside from her passion for showjumping there is one event firmly in the spotlight this year.

The Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout celebrates its 90th year at the 2024 Melbourne Royal Show, contested by the most decorated saddle horses, riders and grooms in the country.

Bernie says the Garryowen is the most coveted show horse title for lady riders in Australia, and this year its rich history will be honoured a little differently.

“I love every horse event at the Melbourne Royal Show, but this year is particularly special as we celebrate 90 years of the Garryowen,” she says.

“This year we’re inviting as many people as possible to the Show to share in the history, witness this year’s milestone event and celebrate past, present and future winners. It’s important to recognise lady rider achievements and the bond between horse and rider, so there’s an incredible sense of excitement and pride around the Garryowen.”

The competition is named after a three-time Melbourne Royal Show champion saddle horse whose owner 29-year-old Violet Murrell, died tragically whilst trying to save him from a stable fire.

More than 50 entrants will be judged on manners and paces, riding, saddlery, conformation, soundness and general appearance.

“There won’t be a collar turned wrong, a button out of place, a speck of dirt or a fluff of hair. To see them ride out and understand the countless hours of work that goes into it – starting as early as in the middle of the night on show day – really shows why winning the esteemed Garryowen title sets riders and horses up for their future,” added Bernie.

Along with the prestigious Garryowen, the Melbourne Royal Horses in Action Competition will welcome back many of the crowd favourites, including the Prince of Wales Showjumping Cup, fancy dress competitions for riders 14 years and under, the Off The Track thoroughbred spring fashions led classes and the time-honoured led Clydesdales – another event steeped in rich tradition. Competition entries so far indicate a strong appetite from participants with an increase year-on-year, to ensure top quality fields.

“The integration of retired thoroughbreds through Racing Victoria’s Off The Track program is incredibly important to showcase the versatility of that wonderful breed and entries are currently up,” Bernie says.

“In the Clydesdales you’ve got people like the Marriott family who have been bringing their Clydesdales to the Melbourne Royal Show for generations since 1945, so it’s particularly special and winning the royal blue is the ultimate feather in your cap.”

While entries for the Showjumping, Saddle, Harness and Stock Horses have now closed, Hunting entries remain open until Monday 5 August 2024. Head to