More news and action from the HOY 2018 dressage arena – by Jess Roberts

Today’s IRT Grand Prix Special proved to be a battle between the two WEG-qualified combinations after John Thompson laid down a 71.34 gauntlet with the blisteringly on-form JHT Antonello. The pressure then went on for Julie Brougham, who was last to go. Vom Feinsten delivered a foot-perfect performance up until what looked like a slight communication error at the beginning of their two-time changes, which sealed their fate, the pair finishing on 69.915.

Thompson’s score beats his own personal best in a Grand Prix Special to date (previously 70.8 which he earned at this year’s Nationals) and also sets a new international record for New Zealand in this test.

Yesterday’s Young Dressage Horse classes were a treat to watch; the quality of these up-and-coming future stars is truly impressive. In the 4-year-old, Matthews Hanoverians rider Hannah Burden and the gorgeous Furstenball mare Fanfare MH added the HOY 4-year-old spoils to their recently-won National Championship age-group title.

The 5-and-6-year-old crowns were a coup for the JHT Equine team with the former going to John Thompson and the imported JHT Anatomy (Apache), while his business partner and fiancé Holly Leach took out the latter on her Australian-bred HP Fresco. Leach and her stallion have pocketed a swag of wide ribbons this season, including the L5 and overall YDH title at Nationals and reserve L5 champion here at HOY.

The Pony classes boasted great numbers with almost 50 entries across the board. Laura O’Hare and Zen E Bear rose to the top in the L1 championship; perennial campaigner Ngahere Romeo took rider Olivia Robinson to the winner’s circle for L2. A beautiful freestyle (67.389) from Bella Small was enough to win her both the class and the L3 title overall with Kingslea Busy Bee. And the grand finale – the coveted Dressage Pony of the Year – went to the very deserving Millie Thompson and Rifesyde Prancer, after the pair cracked 70% in their L4 musical.

There was just half a point deciding the L3 Horse of the Year, which went to Haydee Wells-Parmenter and Royal Dream. Ever-so-close for the runner-up spot was South Island combination Lorraine Ward-Smith and her Donnerubin mare, Fernlea Diamond Day.

Lucarne Dolley is having a blinder of a show after taking out the L6/7 Championship earlier today with her stationbred mare Devils Chocolate, before going on to win the Young Rider CDI-Y Individual this evening on Ardmore which puts her in a strong position going into tomorrows Young Rider final and deciding freestyle class.