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Whittlesea’s Ebonie Lee lights up at Garryowen

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By Colin MacGillivray

WHITTLESEA 20-year-old Ebonie Lee is the toast of Australia’s equestrian community after taking out the prestigious Garryowen turnout at the Melbourne Royal Show last week.

The event – named after three-time show champion saddle horse Garryowen, whose owner Violet Murrell died trying to save him from a stable fire in 1934 – is the major equestrian competition at the show.

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Entrants are judged in six different categories, including costume, the horse’s saddlery, general appearance, manners and paces, confirmation, and soundness and riding.

Ms Lee, who has ridden horses competitively since she was three years old, became the first entrant since the 1980s to win the Garryowen in her first appearance. She said winning the event was a dream come true.

“I have been riding since before I could walk – in fact, some people would say I was born on a horse,” she said.

“I have been competing in the ring since I was three years old and have been very successful over the years.

“Winning the Garryowen is more of a life goal; I have come up in the ranks and have always worked hard to be where I am today. It certainly is a big dream to win the Garryowen, as the next morning I woke up and I didn’t think it was real.”

Ms Lee’s other competition highlights include being named best rider under 12 at The Grand National, Equestrian Australia’s 16-18 champion rider and winning the rider class at every Melbourne Royal Show she entered including the pony turnout, Pemberton turnout and K R Luke turnout.

Ebonie Lee and horse Wynara Signature, also known as Orlando, pose for a photo. ​

Ms Lee praised her horse Wynara Signature, also known as Orlando, for performing after a difficult build-up to the Garryowen.

“Unfortunately, my original horse became unsound and had to be vetted out of competition,” she said.

“My substitute horse was only accepted just before 7am on the morning of the event. When we heard this, it was a mad rush to get organized and hope everything would just work out for the day.

“Even with the last-minute changes I still felt very relaxed, just taking it as it was and just lucky to be out there.”

Ms Lee thanked her family and friends as well as her coach Darryl Hayes and sponsors.

“Orlando is trained and shown by my sister Brynie Lee,” she said.

“I’d like to thank my mum and dad for getting us into the ring and for all saddlery and costume, my other sister Tamara Lee for getting Orlando plaited and ready for the event, and all my other family for always supporting me – you all know who you all are,” she said.

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