Youngest in the field takes 88th Garryowen glory

Not since the 1980s has a first time entrant in the Garryowen taken out the most prestigious horse competition for ladies in Australia.

But this year, 20-year-old Ebonie Lee of Whittlesea, could not believe her ears when it was announced in front of the show horse world that she had taken out the Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout in its 88th year.

The Garryowen is intrinsically linked with Victorian history and today Melbourne Royal added another horse and rider combination to the history books.

It’s named in honour of champion horsewoman Violet Murrell of Mentone who was the top female jockey, hunting rider, show jumper and horse exhibitor of her day - having won more trophies than any other woman in the world in the 1920s. She died tragically in a brave attempt to save her horses - including Garryowen - from a fire.

The youngest competitor in the field, Ebonie Lee, rode Wynara signature a six year old gelding sired by Wynara Copyright and out of Wynara Simply Irresistible. “Orlando” as he is know as in the stables has been very successful in his first season of showing with winning at Royal Adelaide Show last month.

“I basically grew up on a horses back,” Ebonie said.

“I have been competing at Melbourne Royal Show since I was three and have been very lucky to have a lot of great success here winning the pony turnout when I was 11 then onto winning the Pemberton Turnout twice and the K R Luke turnout twice as well,” the young lady said.

In 1986, Ms Jan Smith campaigned as a first time competitor on the New Zealand thoroughbred gelding Royal Son.

“This was my first year competing in the Garryowen but I come from a knowledgeable family with my oldest sister Sherrie Lee competing in it for a few years and placing, and my other sister Briony Lee winning best first year and third place at the last Garryowen, which I actually prepared her horse for.”

“I’m very lucky to come from a family that has been doing it for years so we had a lot of the gear necessary for the class but I have had to borrow things like boots and breeches which I’m so grateful to the kind people that are still willing to lend. We actually didn’t know if the gear was going to fit this horse and have just thrown together gear here and there to make this all happen.”

Second place was awarded to Upper Gippsland-rider Elizabeth Krog (28), another first time competitor, on Warrawee Impressario; third place to Kyabram’s Jemima Draper (30) on Bellaire Cartier; fourth to former winner Pakenham’s Briony Randle (39) of Lyndam Park Touch the Clouds; fifth to former winner Balaclava’s Stephanie Barrington on Givenchy (31)and sixth to Katunga’s Rebecca Keane (37) on Dreamtime Lyrixx. The McKinnon Medal for the highest placed rider over 45 years of age was awarded to Melissa Gillies on Beyond Reasonable Doubt.