Williamson First Kiwi to Qualify for World Cup Finals
Wendi Williamson has some big decisions to make this week after a spectacular win in the 2017 Pacific League World Cup Dressage Final at Manfeild Park in Feilding, New Zealand. The mum of two from Waimauku, New Zealand, can be the first kiwi rider to represent her country in a World Cup Dressage Final.
Williamson and her Dejavu MH (by De Niro x Anamour) notched an impressive 75.725% in the Grand Prix Musical Freestyle (CDIW) to edge out John Thompson aboard Antonello on 73.7% for second and Vanessa Way on NRM Arawn on 70.525% for third. The victory – their best-ever score for a Musical Freestyle – earned them a berth in the 2017 World Cup Final, being held in Omaha, USA, in April.
Earlier in the show, the combination notched a New Zealand record in the Grand Prix, with their 71.22% victory, securing the Burkner Medal as the top combination at the Dressage Nationals, and also won the Intermediaire II on 70.421%.
“The horse has just been getting better and better,” says Williamson. “He looked as though he had found another gear, and to do that in a test, this weekend, is just incredible.”
Perhaps more exciting is that the environmental engineer knows exactly where she and the 12-year-old Hanoverian, who she bought as a foal, gain more marks.
“There are a few flaws in there that I can improve on, so that is exciting. I have had a number of international trainers tell me he is a horse capable of high 70s, and I feel if I can’t achieve that, I will have let him down.”
She didn’t enter the arena with a win in mind.
“I have my own psychology thing – I want to win, but if I focus on that, I won’t ride a good test. I want to nail it out there, and perform the horse the best I can. I guess you could say I am pretty determined.”
Williamson had never really entertained going to the world final, but a little pep talk from Rio Olympian Julie Brougham – a late withdrawal from the Pacific League Final – has prompted a possible change.
“She told me to take the opportunities while they were there, and that if you over-think things, you will never do it. It is good advice. I am still pretty shell-shocked by everything and a little nervous about the decision ahead.”
Williamson and husband Jonnie now face a busy few days as they work through the logistics of getting the horse to the US – a complicated affair as the horse would probably have to fly via Europe.
“The international judges here and at the CDI in October were complimentary to both John (Thompson) and I, saying we would be very competitive offshore,” she said.
“To get to 70% is hard, but to get beyond that is something else. It takes a lot more power and expression, softness and accuracy, and is just quite different. You can do the movements, but you have to do them with real expression and cadence, and I feel I can now see a pathway to do that.”
It is a real team effort in the Williamson household, with Jonnie in charge of the music for the tests.
“We have used this music all season because it suits the horse so well, but we played around with the test and redid the pattern just last week.”
This is their second season at Grand Prix level, and their efforts put them well on track for their goal to be at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in the United States.
Dressage New Zealand sport manager Wendy Hamerton is over the moon with the results.
“Our sport has come so far,” she said. “I thought it would be close but this is just fantastic. We are all very proud of the achievements of the riders.”
by Diana Dobson - Photos © Libby Law
Wendi Williamson Earns Ticket to Omaha after 2017 Pacific League World Cup Final Victory
Williamson and Dejavu MH Take Two at 2017 CDI-W Feilding
Williamson and Dejavu MH Make a Stand in Inter II at 2017 CDI-W Feilding
Pacific League World Cup Final Returns to New Zealand with Seven Combinations in the Running