The Sydney 2006 CDI 3-Star International Dressage Event at the Olympic Equestrian site has all the attributes that constitute a truly international event. Being the last qualifier before the World Equestrian Games in Aachen
in August this year, competitors’ tension was high. None more so than for Rachael Sanna and her young Grand Prix horse Chatham Park Jac who needed a score of over 64% from Volker Moritz (GER), the Olympic foreign judge at this event. The Intermediate II class, sponsored by Koffels Solicitors and Barristers, held on Thursday, 04 May saw this combination clearly win the class with a great percentage of 68.9 with all judges having them winning. Second were Regardez Moi and Heath Ryan on 65.84% was Jody Hartstone and the big brown New Zealand Stallion third on 64.68%.
It was a great class and the judges scoring all close in percentages, which was a good start to the show. Jac showed great softness and cadence in all his work with such an uphill tendency but you thought that perhaps she was playing it safe and didn’t really have the throttle down and was saving the pizzazz for the Grand Prix. Heath rode a correct test with some great moments but as yet Regardez Moi needs to still get a better balance and gain better cadence and air in the paces needless to say a very solid test. Landioso struggled a little in the heat at the beginning of the test but in the canter work gained some good marks for the changes and the pirouettes and the piaffe-passage tour consistent and even.
The Prix St Georges, sponsored by Gow-Gates, was a huge class with 30 horses competing. It was won in absolute international style by Whisper IV, so beautifully ridden by Brett Parbery. This combination scored 69.05% and into second was Glennis Barrey and Classico II, 68%, then Anne Serrao and the young Weltsohn perhaps little under marked on 65.8%. The top three were outstanding, as was the class. Whisper, a little tense at the start, showed absolute expression in the trot and with inspiring extension and the half passes now much better cadenced. The canter and the changes uphill and fluent a deserving winner and close behind Classico II who is a very different type with good rhythm and steady frames. A few minor mistakes may have made the difference here from winning to second. Weltsohn showed great self carriage and forward desire and the shoulder in and half passes so wonderfull in balance and fluency. This combination are really on the improve and the canter now fulfilling the promise it has shown. There was always the return match the next day with the Intermediare I. In the National PSG class it was Belcam Corvette with Karen Remely winning on 65.2% from Jodie Newall and Bridgford Princess 62.25% second and then Jackie Wilson and Yetar Springs Julius who recently arrived from WA.
The Advanced classes were sponsored by IRT and contested on the Friday and a win in the 5.4 to Judy Dierks and H.P. Frontier with a great 69.44% from Nicholas Fyffe and the Jenny Rapson owned and imported Ferrero Rocher. Third to another German import and the pretty Welfenadel ridden by Leslie Anne Taylor, who recently moved to Arcadia, NSW.
In the 5.3 it was Welfenadel who tipped the scales with a 66.91% to win from Claire Wickens and the grey Rolex only .2% behind with Nicholas Fyffe and Ferrero Rocher third another .2% behind so it was an extremely close competition and what great tests. There is certainly some quality here in the up and coming FEI classes and Frontier already placing in Grand prix tests with good percentages. If you look through the results of this class it can be seen that the scores are close and there are certainly a lot of great horses.
So it was on to the Intermediate I and no question here that the winner again was Whisper IV and Brett Parbery and as seems to be becoming a rarity at dressage competitions that all judges agreed and had all had Whisper in the lead and with an overall percentage of 71% !! And all judges had him over 70% and what a great test. It was better than the day before as it was softer and more settled. The trot had more swing and the canter and the changes and pirouettes balance and confident and Brett sits so still and makes it all look so easy. This is what its all about.
Second here to Glennis Barrey and Classico II who made a very correct test with no mistakes but perhaps looked a little lacking forward especially in the extended work but needless to say professional and nest. Classico too is showing improvement and confidence with his work and now the changes much straighter and fluent. Third to another star in the making, Weltsohn by the same sire as Whisper IV, Weltmeyer. This pair scored 67.8% and again today the test looked more settled and cadenced and the trot work fluent and the half passes perhaps for some 9s. The extended active and pushing and the canter uphill but the Pirouettes a little large but safe and it is here where with the coefficient marks that this pair slipped to third.
What a great effort from all these and Alexander Burns on Jaybee Acrobat moved up from 8th in the PSG to 4th in the Inter I with a good solid test and Nicholas Fyffe also a good improver from 20th in the PSG to 8th in the Inter I with Donizetti who, perhaps if he wasn’t first out, may have even been better but a good soft test. It was a great class and the scores reflect this and the horses all looking really confident and handing in good personal performances. It all goes to show that the standard is really on the improve here and this is also encouraged by a great venue, good surfaces, a well organised and professional show and a serious competitive spirit and open mind of all riders. Of course it goes with out saying that with the international Judges there is also another facet that gets riders to give there best as it is important to improve the profile of Australian Dressage in the eyes of the world!
The EFA Grand Prix was the class all were waiting for and another outdoor competition. There was no doubt that all were out to produce their best as it was a cast of international judges and the last time to impress the selectors for a place on what promises to be the best-ever team fielded for Australia. There was plenty of atmosphere and 17 horses met the judges in the main outdoor arena for the afternoon that was to be filled with surprise. Blas Largo and the huge chestnut Northern Hector produced a great test with plenty of energy and expression but perhaps lacked some softness but a good 9th with a 61.6% William Noble for New Zealand and Vincent St James a well produced test and some good moments but not always maintained to get a 62.6%. Then Jodie Hartstone (NZL) with Landioso 5th on 64.25% with again some great canter work and especially the two times changes and the pirouettes and the piaffe not quite as good as we had seen yesterday but still a 64.25%.
4th to the great young gelding by Jazz for Rachael Sanna and Chatham Park Jac started out with some fantastic trot work and would have been averaging 70% until the piaffe. There the excitement of the competition got the better of his mind and athleticism and he thought maybe a pirouette in above the bit trot may be better but Rachael had his concentration back and a super piaffe then passage that was for 8. Jac had made a big mistake and serious loss of marks for the piaffe and the transitions. Rachael seemed unperturbed and then some fantastic work again slowing climbing back up toward the 70% mark and then on the centreline again in the piaffe he started well, but with only a few steps to go he let fly with all the exuberance of a three-year old in the paddock this time Rachael quick as a flash had him back to work and passage to halt but his expression not so required and dangerous loss of marks for a few ones and a submission mark that was no doubt low yet still a score of 65.75!!!! This just shows what great marks this horse can get and as this is only his third Grand Prix he is an exciting prospect. The best is that the O judge Volker Moritz gave a score of 64.79 which completes the requirements of the COC for WEG so he will be in the horses for selection.
Next were Heath Ryan and Regardez Moi with a score of 66% to be third and a test that showed some tension and again perhaps lacking the cadence and quality in the paces of some of the other horses but a test full of energy.
Second to Heath and Greenoaks Dundee on 66.48% and a test that had cadence and confidence but perhaps could have shown more in the piaffe and the passage tour but good extended trot and a mistake free test.
The winner of the Equestrian Federation of Australia’s Grand Prix went to Amoucheur and Kelly Layne. A score of 67.75 and a 68.54% for Volker Moritz showed what a good test it was. Amoucheur who has been difficult in the past with a fiery nature was very composed yet energetic with simply inspiring piaffe and passage for 8s. The tempos so well established and the transitions seamless. It was a popular and a well deserved win as Kelly has only had him back in full work a short while since a minor strain put him out for several months where he was spoilt rotten and nursed with much TLC. It all paid off and a great test and a great result so it’s all in the lap of the selectors. This day also say the go rounds for all the young horses classes and weren’t they a high standard and so it’s on to the second round tomorrow.
So ended a great two days of competition where the standard has been the highest in the history of the sport in Australia and that’s really exciting for us all.
Saturday the 6th of May promises to be bigger than ever at SIEC Horsley Park with the Bates Young Horse classes and The IRT Advanced Freestyles in the morning. There is then the NSW Sport and Recreation International Prix St Georges Derby Competition where the international riders in country teams ride loan horses to win. Rachael Sanna and Mary Hanna are the Aussie Reps. There is also the Bates final of the young horses where Mary Hanna will ride the top three from each age group to determine the winners and then there is the Zilco International Intermediare I Freestyle and of course the great Grand Prix Freestyle sponsored by Hamilton Island. It is a wonderful competition and a showcase of the best dressage that has been seen in Australia.
Text by Roger Fitzhardinge
Photos courtesy: CDI Sydney