The 2013 Australian Dressage Championships was destined to be a big one as it also included (for the first time) the Para Equestrian Championships. At 8.30 am on Thursday morning 24 October 2013, the first horse and rider for the Prix St Georges Championship entered the indoor arena.
With 35 combinations and all with good credentials, this was always going to be one of the most difficult classes to win. What made it even harder was that their seemed to be something in the air that unsettled a number of the top horses but at the end of the day, they all competed under the same circumstances.
Many times the Prix St Georges has been a battle between Australia’s elite. This time was slightly different as Janina Kletke on the elegant Baden Wurttemberger stallion Bluefields Floreno (by Florencio out of Rififi) headed them off at the pass, claiming first place with 69.711%. Janina and the owners of Bluefields Stud, JJ and his wife Lys, have recently moved from Western Australia to the Southern Highlands of NSW to develop the profile of their stud Bluefields – what a great start! Dutch born Tor van den Berghe was the runner up aboard Cheryl Obrien's Hanoverian branded Lauries AS (by Londonderry out of Pik Lady) with 69.447, followed by Brett Parbery on the Farrell family's Westfalian Aber Hallo (by Amidou out of Riminis Queen) with 68.000%
The Intermediaire II also had a large class of 28 horse and rider combinations which included a handful of newcomers to Big Tour competition. Anjanette Harten (QLD) and her horse UQG Alladin (by Anamour) took the lead for a couple of hours until Alexis Hellyer (NSW) and her chestnut gelding, Waca W (by Weltmeyer), entered the arena. This combination scored 66.632% which was enough to keep them in first position right to the end. Second place went to Queensland rider, Victoria Welch on Brentanus (by Brentano II) and third went to one of Australia’s favourites, Heath Ryan (NSW) on Utopian Cardinal (by Regardez Moi).
It’s always great to have the first day under the belt as it signifies that the competition is about to heat up. All spectators, owners and riders have had a chance to settle in, assess the conditions and refocus on the next three days.
by Scott Pollock, edited by Eurodressage
Photo © Julie Wilson