Scroll Top

Teamwork and Triumphs at the Alabar Hero Series Final

AHS 2023 Winner and Runner-Up with Judges (2)

It was an event which promised an exceptional display of equestrian excellence and that’s exactly what the Alabar Hero Series Final delivered: twelve of the most outstanding standardbreds in Victoria, each vying for a share in thousands of dollars of cash and prize packs, rugs, sashes, garlands and glory.

Braving the hot forecast at the Bendigo Showgrounds, competitors travelled from all around the state on Sunday to participate in the Alabar Hero Series Final, as part of the larger Victorian Saddle Horse Championships program.

It’s quite fitting that many of the horses competing across the Series were progeny of the major event supporter, prominent standardbred breeding operation Alabar Farms, exemplifying the high calibre of the stud’s standardbreds not only in their racing lives, but as beautiful performance horses beyond the track.

“Alabar is so proud to sponsor the Hero Series. The quality of the standardbreds on show is a credit to the breed and to the amazing trainers who put so much time and effort into their horses”, said Alabar General Manager, Brett Coffey.

Hero Ambassador Kasbah Kid ridden by Mitchell Fox Owned by Fox Equestrian

An example of this is Kasbah Kid, who was sired by the great Art Major; who stands at Alabar. 

Chalking up $185,520 in earnings as a pacer, retirement from racing saw Kasbah Kid – known to his friends as Hollis – explode onto the show scene, winning Champion and Supreme titles at some of Australia’s most prestigious Royal shows, under the expert guide of Brooke Sweeney and Mitch Fox of Fox Equestrian.

On Sunday, Hollis returned to defend his debut title of Alabar Hero Series Final Champion Led Standardbred, which he won in 2022.  It was a successful bid, with Hollis bringing home the sash for the second consecutive year, along with a Top-Ten award in the Alabar Hero Series Final and the Highest placed Owner-Rider award.    When asked about their triumphs at the Final, the Fox Equestrian team said it was “an absolute privilege and honour to be competing at the pinnacle platform of standardbred competition in Victoria”.

Emily Barton – Brentwood After Dark (Doey Doeback – Owned by the Barton Family)

These sentiments were echoed by top show riders Emily and Keira Barton, whose family have been involved in horse showing to the highest level.

The girls’ mother Karen Barton, a successful show competitor in her own right, spoke of how great to be a part of ‘such an excellent display of the standardbred’.

“I was so very proud of both Emily and Keira at the Alabar Hero Final.  

“Keira kept up the family tradition and piloted Katie West’s Future Bliss to First Place in the Child’s Ridden Standardbred and then went on to win the Rider 12-years and Under 18 years.  Emily hopped on Mazza’s Delight and rode her beautifully to win the rider 18 and Under 25-years. They then made it a Barton Quinella, with Emily being sashed Champion Rider and Keira the Reserve.

“In the Hero Final, Emily rode Darcy Park Dark Angel (Princess in Time) to a Top Ten finish”.

Mazza Delight, loaned to Emily Barton in her rider classes, was draped in many awards across her Final debut, including the pre-eminent title of Alabar Hero Series Final Champion.

Ridden in the Final by Sebastian Bellamy, Mazza’s Delight – affectionately known as Suzie – made her mark as one to watch, by taking home the Champion sash just five months after being broken to saddle.

Winner: Sebastian Bellamy – Mazza’s Delight (Owned by Kylie Gleeson)

“It was such a proud moment, watching her shine”, gushed Suzie’s owner, Kylie Gleeson.

“Coming in so recently after being started under saddle, formerly as a broodmare, shows that these horses really can do anything; no matter the age and from any background”.
An integral part of the team effort behind Suzie’s success, trainer and Final rider Sebastian also sung the mare’s praises for her exceptionally trainable nature.

“It has been an absolute pleasure developing this mare for her owner Kylie.  She blew us away not only in her Alabar Hero Finals workout, but for working so beautifully for our young student, Casey Van Druemel, in the child’s class also.

“We love being a part of the Alabar Hero Series because it gives the opportunity to show off what this amazing breed can do!”

Placing Runner Up in the Final was Hollie Hildebrant and Savesomtimetodream (aka Buck); a pair who need no introduction, with a decorated history of Champion and Supreme titles to their names both individually and as a partnership since 2019.

It was Buck’s fourth start in the Alabar Hero Series Final, having won the event twice prior, and he and Hollie produced a stunning display in the challenging conditions.

Runner-Up: Hollie Hildebrandt – Savesomtimetodream (Owner Harness Racing Australia)

Hollie says: “there were lots of beautiful Standardbreds presented for the Alabar Hero Final.  It was a hot day, but all of the horses tried their hearts out and produced great workouts”.

Sharing in the pride at another of Buck’s outstanding performance in the Final was Head of Equine Health, Welfare and Traceability at Harness Racing Australia (HRA), Kathleen Mullan, who was responsible for starting the $ 222,625 ex-pacer under saddle and campaigning him in his first show season.

“The whole team at HRA were incredibly proud to see Buck once again at the pointy end of the line up in a major Standardbred event.

“When choosing a horse to be the Ambassador for the HRA There Is No Finish Line project back in 2018, we trusted that with the foundations and training given to him as part of the project he would go on to have continued success in a new home so it is very gratifying to watch that unfold.
Hollie has done a fantastic job maintaining that momentum since taking over the reins; Buck is a huge credit to her.”

Determining the winners of each class was an incredibly difficult job, spread across three experienced judges, each with expertise across different facets of standardbreds and showing.

Jenny Phillips – Red Sky At Night

With extensive knowledge of the standardbred from her history in harness racing and being a HRV Hero retrainer, Maree Campbell brought a discerning eye to the judging panel.

“I was extremely impressed with all the horses that presented on the day. I had no idea the winner had only been under saddle for only a few months; this just shows what a wonderfully versatile breed standardbreds are”, said Maree.

Proof of the adaptive, trainable nature of the standardbred is seasoned partnership Jen Philips and Red Sky At Night (aka Bailey), who were Top-Ten finalists at the Alabar Hero Series Final.

Jen and Bailey have achieved a long list of a diverse accomplishments across their career together, in standardbred-specific, Open and HRCAV competition.

“It was a pleasure to highlight the breed in a positive light at the Final and seeing the breed holding their own at the event. I really enjoyed the experience (not the heat) and hopefully Bailey proved that Standardbreds can do anything, considering he also does dressage and jumping as well”.

Additional to the celebration of winners across the program of events, the Alabar Hero Series Final also offered an opportunity for continued learning, confidence-building and for some quite green horses to attend a high-atmosphere equestrian event.

Sophie Boag – Hillcroft Thomas Aurelius (Tommy’s Song)

This was the case for winner of the Encouragement Award for the day, Sophie Boag.

“I’ve had Tommy since he retired in 2019 and it felt like it all came together for our third ridden show ever at the Alabar Hero Series Final. I enjoyed just being a part of such a well-known event and will hopefully be back and qualified to try again next year”.
Overall, the Alabar Hero Series, along with the Final, was a sensational competition, garnering positive feedback from participants, judges and the many people who tuned in via social media to keep track of results and to gain inspiration from some of the foot-perfect workouts videoed across the event.

Overall, the Alabar Hero Series, along with the Final, was a sensational competition, garnering positive feedback from participants, judges and the many people who tuned in via social media to keep track of results and to gain inspiration from some of the foot-perfect workouts videoed across the event.

The annual Series is made possible through valued partnerships with individuals and businesses, who extend generous contributions towards event costs and prizes.

Acknowledgement and thanks go to the following businesses for their support of the Alabar Hero Series and the Final:

Alabar Farms, HRV Hero, Cedar Lodge, Raising the Standards and The NRG Team, who each put forward product and/or cash contributions.

Winner: Sebastian Bellamy – Mazza’s Delight (Owned by Kylie Gleeson)

Congratulations are also extended to the following class winners:

Alabar Hero Series Final Winner: Sebastian Bellamy – Mazza’s Delight (Owned by Kylie Gleeson)

Runner Up: Hollie Hildebrant  – Savesomtimetodream (Owned by HRA)

Highest Placed Owner/Rider: Fox Equestrian – Kasbah kid

Encouragement Award: Sophie Boag – Hillcroft Thomas Aurelius (Tommy’s Song)


Lesa Van-Uitert – Squiggymaguire

Jenny Phillips: Red Sky At Night

Kathryn West – Future Bliss

Loren Stemmer – Operative Princess

Audrie Weber – Notorious Tycoon (Soho Notorious)

Darcy Park – Darcy Park Dark Angel (Princess Of Time)

Casey McCulloch – Heza Cracker Barton Family – Brentwood After Dark (Doey Doeback)

Best Presented Led Standardbred:

1 Brentwood After Dark – Barton Family

2 Lesa Van-Uitert – Squiggymaguire

3 Emily Barton – Darcy Park Dark Angel

Led Standardbred 15. Hands & Under

1 Fox Equestrian – Kasbah Kid

2 Sophie Board – Hillcroft Thomas Aurelius

Led Standardbred over 15.2 Hands

1 Casey McCulloch – Heza Cracker

Reserve Champion RiderKeira Barton on Hero Ambassador Future Bliss Owned by Kathryn West

2 Barton Family – Brentwood After Dark

Champion Led Standardbred – Fox Equestrian – Kasbah Kid

Reserve Champion Led Standardbred – Sophie Boag – Hillcroft Thomas Aurelis

Child’s Ridden Standardbred Rider – over 12 years & under 18 years.

1 Keira Barton – Future Bliss

2 Camille Mason – Operative Princess

3 Casey Van Dreumel – Mazzas Delight

Ridden Standardbred Rider 12 years & under

1 Future Bliss ridden by Keira Barton for Katie West

2 Heza Cracker ridden by Anastasia Pakusch for Casey McCulloch

3 Mazza’s Delight ridden by Casey Van Dreumel for Sebastian Bellamy

Ridden Standardbred Rider 18 years & under 25 years

1 Emily Barton – Mazzas’s Delight

2 Audrie Weber – Notorious Tycoon

3 Casey McCulloch – Heza Cracker
Ridden Standardbred Rider 25 Years & over

1 Jenny Phillips – Red Sky at Night

2 Leesa Van-Uitert – Squiggymaguire
Champion Rider – Emily Barton – Mazzas’s Delight
Reserve Champion Rider – Keira Barton -Future Bliss

Finally, acknowledgement must go to the Final judges Virginia Brosnan, Maree Campbell and Shelley Penny, along with the many hardworking volunteers and organisers across the qualifying events in the Alabar Hero Series.

It take a village to run a series of events to this scale and it was from a tremendous team effort and the accomplishments of many working together for the standardbred, that the 2023 Alabar Hero Series Final was such a success.

Related Posts