New bursary for top Australian riders

       Christine Bates is heading overseas thanks to the support of a new initiative by Sarah Nevile


Sarah Nevile is known to many as the ‘Australian Voice of Eventing’ and last week was playing her customary role as the main commentator for the Saddleworld Melbourne International 3 Day Event

We’ve chatted to Sarah previously before about her love of eventing and her role as commentator but this week we found out more about her generous, and timely, support of Australian eventing through a new bursary designed to help Australian riders in contention for team selection make that all important trip to compete overseas

In recent times Sarah has sadly lost some of her loved family members, leaving her with a desire to see people fulfil their dreams during their lifetime and the means to help them do so.

Top Australian rider Christine Bates is the first recipient of the bursary created by Sarah but she will not be the last. The philanthropic grant will be awarded every second year, during a World Equestrian Games or Olympic year, to an Australia based rider with the capability to compete as part of an Australian team to cover the daunting costs they face to mount an overseas campaign

A chance visit to Christine’s home base to view a horse for sale brought Christine and Sarah together and, thanks to Sarah’s support and the support of many who have contributed to Christine's fund raising campaign, Christine now leaves Australia with her horse Adelaide Hill on Wednesday to be based with Andrew Nicholson in the UK in the lead up to the World Equestrian Games

For Christine, selection for the WEG would be a dream come true but the experience of travelling overseas, competing in the UK and possibly as part of a team at Aachen on board her homebred horse Adelaide Hill is all part of improving her riding and coaching skills - skills she wants to bring back to Australia

Christine and Adelaide Hills have been on top form in the past 12 months with four consecutive 3* wins including the CCI3* at Sydney International, but it has not been an easy path. They have previously planned overseas campaigns which have not come to fruition, so this time just getting on the plane will ‘be my Olympic gold!’

“What I love about Sarah’s initiative is that it isn’t something helping just me but it is something valuable for Australian eventing in the future. Going overseas and competing is now part of what must be done to continue to improve and move forward in the sport but you have to be able to come back and keep the sport going here. It’s lucky that riders such as Shane, Stuart and myself are heavily involved in running events, course building, course designing and the things that will make the sport stronger here. If it wasn’t for those riders doing that, a lot of events would have fallen away, especially in NSW, so this is hopefully the start of bigger and better things for the sport in Australia”


Christine Bates and Sarah Nevile


      Christine and Adelaide Hill win the CCI3* at Sydney International