With 548 tests to be ridden by 128 riders and 152 horses, the Harcourts Four Seasons Realty 2019 South Island Festival of Dressage gets underway today at the South Island Equestrian Centre, McLeans Island. Not only are South Island Championship titles at stake, but also the South Island finals of the Super 5 League and South Island Zilco Freestyle to Music Series.

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In the Super 5 League, Southland’s Rebecca McKee dominates the Vetpro Level 1 with FIS Get Smart and the Fiber Fresh Level 5 with Solo. Young rider Rilee McMeekin & Solitar Storm (Nelson) will be tested by the experience of Canterbury’s Nicki Ford (L’Etoile) in the Matthews Hanoverians level 2. These two are currently neck and neck on 34pts. Melissa  Galloway is on track for a trifecta in the Heritage Equine Level 3 (Windermere Zephora W) , the AR Dressage Level 8 (Windermere J Obei W) and the Superior Rubber Surfaces Level 9.

The new season combination of Fiona Sharp and New World Finesse (Southland) leads the Hobson Horsecoaches Level 6 by 11pts from local rider Seija Parkkali-Glew  and Dani Simpson on the super pony Greenmoor Euphoria. Pip Thomson and Gemstar lead the Custom Logistic Level 7 by just three points from Diane Wallace and Profile so the % in the final will be all important

The ever popular Zilco Freestyle to Music Series is also going to see some really tight competition. McMeekin has a 6pt advantage from Ford in Level 2. Galloway and Windermere Zephora W have just a one point lead in level 3 from Otago’s Wendy Butler and Sister II Whitney H. Galloway is hitting the high notes in Levels 8 & 9 as well. She is unbeatable on J Obei W in the Level 8 (40pts) with Marlborough’s Franzi van Bruggen on Fortunato too far off the pace to win with 21pts. Level 9 is tight with Barbara Chalmers and Rossellini  just one point behind Johanson W

KP Dexter and Diane Wallace have 3pts in hand from Janelle Sangster-Ward on Sue Woerlee’s Vollrath Liaison in Level 4 and Wallace also leads the Level 7 on Profile. Rebecca McKee and Solo have an unassailable 19 pt lead in level 5.  

Round one of the York Corporation Young Rider InterIsland Challenge begins today. The North Island team has had two days to get a feel for their loan mounts and are delighted with the quality of horses generously loaned to them. Becki Williamson rides Robert Kofoed’s First Choice at level 4, Willa Aitken is on Metta Neilsen’s Geneva Star and Emma Harding is on Joy Whites’ Level 2 Astek Gangsta Girl. The SI Team is Rilee McMeekin & Solitar Storm (Level 2), Giselle Conway & Saltador (Level 3)  and Emma Copplestone & Dinky Di- Doff (Level 4). Meila Picard (Nelson) is a new reserve rider for Level 4.

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Follow the action live on Equestrian Entries from 12.30 today