-- Text by Wendy Hamerton, edited by Eurodressage - Photos © Libby Law
Melissa Galloway and Windermere J’Obei W convincingly won the FEI Pacific League Dressage World Cup Final scoring 79.24% in the Freestyle, earning the place for PAL combinations at the 2024 Final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The Final was held at Dressage by the Lake at Takapoto equestrian center in Cambridge, New Zealand, on 24 - 26 November 2023.
Spot for Riyadh and Commanding Lead on Group G Olympic Ranking
Since returning to New Zealand from the 2022 World Championships, Melissa has carefully planned her home-based season on 13-year old New Zealand warmblood Windermere J'Obei (by Johnson x Pompeii Court xx)) with both the World Cup Final and Paris Olympics firmly in her sights. This has included CDI at the NZL National Championships, Trans-Tasman trips to Sydney & Melbourne in Australia and now the PAL Final at Takapoto-Cambridge.
Thanks to technology, Melissa has been able to continue to train online with Anne van Olst from the other side of the world.
The Cambridge crowd was ecstatic when the pair rode their new Freestyle for the first time in New Zealand to score another 79% plus score – the first one at the Boneo Park CDIW in October. Who knows but for a very slight momentary loss of balance in the extended trot could they have witnessed an 80%? They won the Grand Prix with a personal best of 74.218% and the Freestyle on 79.240%.
“Their performances presented a confidence, harmony and quality, epitomising perfect trust between horse and rider and bringing a new era of dressage sport to the region” said Wendy Hamerton, Sport Manager for ESNZ Dressage. “Interest in dressage is increasing and riders, fans, media and supporters are being inspired by this, particularly with the World Cup Final and Paris Olympics on the horizon. Add to this the picturesque and European designed Takapoto venue which has wonderful surfaces, and the proximity to a large equestrian fan base, the event was an organisers dream”
Dreaming of Paris
The pair now have a record thirteen straight wins to their credit which has seen them move rapidly up to number 33 on the World FEI rider ranking at the end of October and take a commanding lead in the FEI Olympic Group G Rankings for a NZL place at Paris.
The thirty-year-old athlete has dreamt of riding at the Olympics since she was an eleven-year-old at Pony Club.
After the show you could not take the smile off Melissa’s face. She was full of praise and love for her thirteen-year-old “Joey” with whom she has a very special bond - a partnership formed since he was newly introduced to saddle. “He is just so special – I just love riding him – he gives me everything. Gosh what an amazing show this was – to have national television news coverage for dressage too! I don’t have the words”.
Williamson and Don Vito Runner-Up
Wendi Williamson and the eleven-year-old NZ Hanoverian gelding Don Vito MH (by Don Frederico x Anamour) are relative newcomers at this level and filled the runner up position in both tests which showed tremendous power and energy.
These were the only two NZL based combinations who qualified for the final and with no Australian combinations deciding to contest the place it was NZL one and two.
Field Back in Action
Former 2000 Olympian Kallista Field, made her first CDI 3* appearance since 2006 winning both the Grand Prix & Freestyle. She competed in the 3* big tour against Liz Hutson.
Riding the imported 11-year old Westfalian Felix Westfalia FE (by Franziskus x Laurentianer), Field won the Grand Prix with 63.978% and the freestyle with 70.830%. Felix Westfalia FE was competed in Germany by Ilke Albers before selling down under. Field edged out Hutson on the 15-year old New Zealand bred Hapsburg PSH (by His Highness x Gaius xx).
Young Rider Mobberley on Top
The CDIY was reduced to just four starters with the experienced Ben Weir having his final start in this age group as he celebrates his twenty first birthday this year. Sadly, the well performed Del Rico took exception to something in the bottom corner of the arena which resulted in elimination for prolonged resistance.
This left the door open for Rebecca Mobberley and the 11-year old New Zealand warmblood Sayonara FE (by Salutation x Aljano - bred by Kallista & Sharon Field) to score win both the Young Rider Individual (65.118%) and Freestyle Tests (69.755).
The runner-up in the two young rider CDI classes was Morgan Abel-Pattinson on the 12-year old New Zealand warmblood Don Tobio (by Donnerubin x Gymnastic Star x Weltmeyer).