Shane Rose and his horse Shanghai Joe have won the prestigious Melbourne International Horse Trials (MIHT) CCI3* class after a nailbiting finish in the three-phased event held at Werribee Park.

Rose jumped a faultless showjumping round under time to cinch the title from West Australian Sonja Johnson, who finished second aboard Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison and third on Belfast Mojito.

Full of praise for Shanghai Joe, a former racehorse who also took out Racing Victoria’s Off the Track Best Performed Thoroughbred award, Rose said that the horse felt great after three days of competition.

“He’s quite a careful horse and he felt really strong after yesterday (cross-country). He (Shanghai Joe) showed his racing speed and come in under time,” said Rose.

“Shanghai Joe has got three great phases, a great attitude and seems to be really sound. Hopefully if I can keep him together and if he keeps improving he can hopefully go as far as I want him to go. I am certainly looking to have him ready for Rio.” .

Rose and Shanghai Joe were sixth after Saturday’s dressage phase and moved into third after a faultless cross-country round. The withdrawal of Stuart Tinney and Pluto Mio (leaders of CCI3* after cross-country) ahead of today’s showjumping phase saw the combination move into second behind Johnson and Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison.

This is the second time that Rose has won the title at MIHT, having previously taken home the honours in 1998 with It’s A Knockout. Under the new look MIHT, which was this year conducted solely outdoors on a European style arena, Rose was awarded a record $10,000 as part of a prizepool of more than $30,000 for the CCI3* class.

West Australian rider Gabrielle Pither and her horse Max Almighty led from start to finish after scoring of 46.11 in Friday’s dressage phase to win the CCI2* class and lead the Australian Young Rider team to victory over New Zealand in the Oceania Eventing Championships for Young Riders.

Victorian rider Wilhelm Enzinger placed second on Wenlock Aquifer and Teegan Ashby, also a member of the Young Rider team was third on Rockingham No Reason. The top three placings remained unchanged throughout the three phases.

Pither and Ashby joined fellow CCI2* Young Rider competitors Michaela Martindale (Kinnordy Gatow) and Jaimie Stichel (Image Blue Ice) to win the hotly contested Oceania title over New Zealand.

Enzinger was also successful in the CCI1* class, finishing on his dressage score (38.54) aboard Paihia Wilhelm to win the event. Olympic silver medallist Megan Jones was second placed on her Jayay Dom Perignon and Enzinger was third with Bellhaven Sanskrit.

The CCIJ1* was taken out by 16 year-old Thai rider Naphatra Lerdsipjaroen aboard Tainui Lad who has been based in Australia since early this year aiming to qualify for the Thai National team and ride at the 2014 Asian Games taking place in September.

Shenae Lowings (Western Australia) and Venture Sky High finished second following four showjumping penalties and Sarah May and Revelin were third, rising from 15th place in dressage.

MIHT Event Director, Michael Hands congratulated the winners and placegetters of all classes as well as all riders and support teams for conditioning their horses in preparation for what was a true showcase of Australian equestrian talent.

“To have the top three places filled by two members of the silver medal winning Beijing Olympic Team (2008) shows the quality of competition our spectators enjoyed throughout the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

“The new look event welcomed record crowds across the four day event and saw the beauty and athleticism of great horsemanship and sporting excellence played out in front of thousands,” Mr Hands said.

The 2014 MIHT was the final Australian based qualifying opportunity for this year’s World Equestrian Games (WEG), to be held in Normandy, France, in August.

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