Gisborne's Catherine Neill has won the prestigious 83rd Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout at the 2017 Melbourne Show.
Riding former racehorse SLM Mercedes, Ms Neill said when when accepting the award that the win was unexpected but very welcome.
"It is mind-blowing, I can’t put it into words but it’s a great honour," Ms Neill said, before adding that she had long-admired her winning ride before purchasing him over a year ago.
Conducted annually by The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) as part of the Horses in Action Program, 23 talented riders competed for the prestigious honour, which is open to female riders aged 18 years and over.
"I’ve had (SLM Mercedes) for 18 months – he was basically my dream horse and he's been an amazing horse for me. He had a good workout this morning but I couldn't have asked anything more from him. He was amazing," she said.
Second place was awarded to Jess Stalling riding DP Polo, with third place awarded to Rebecca Farrow on Stage Presence, for the second year running, while the Best First Year Rider honours were awarded to Annalisa Phillips on Balledor Encore after an impressive workout.
The Garryowen which was first held in 1934, honours Mrs Violet Murrell, who tragically died at age 29 while trying to save her three-time Royal Melbourne Show champion saddle horse, ‘Garryowen’, from a stable fire in 1934.
The winner of the Garryowen receives almost $8000 in prizes including a gift prize and woolen quarter-sheet from premier sponsor Stubbs England.
The prize also includes a 9-carat gold diamond encrusted pin, a custom designed glass dining-ware set, a water-colour portrait of the winning horse, a Cedar Lodge trophy rug, a garland and a replica of the perpetual Garryowen trophy.