New Zealand’s best dressage combinations are in Australia this week chasing Tokyo Olympic Games qualifying scores at the CDI4* Dressage by the Sea event at Willinga Park.
It is the first time New Zealand has been represented at the high-ranking event which has attracted a stellar line-up of experienced international judges.
Wendi Williamson (Kumeu) is there aboard her Pacific League World Cup Final winner Don Amour MH, Aussie-based Kiwi John Thompson with his young stallion JHT Chemistry, Victoria Wall (Waikato) with Letty Lei EDH and Melissa Galloway (Marlborough) aboard Windermere J’Obei W.
Don Amour is a 13-year-old Hanoverian by Don Frederico out of Adelheid (by Anamour). He has been with Wendi his whole career and they recently had a cracker of a campaign in Australia, twice winning the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music and placing second twice in the Grand Prix at the Australian Championships CDIW Boneo Park CDI. Wendi is New Zealand’s highest-placed Kiwi on the FEI world rankings and tops the Olympic Group G rankings.
JHT Chemistry is a shining star at just eight years old – the youngest the FEI allows horses to compete at this level. The stallion scored 69.326% in their first every CDI3* Grand Prix start for a fourth placing and backed that up with a second place 72.695% in the CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle to Music at Boneo Park in January. The horse is a Dutch warmblood by Connaisseur out of Cendea (by Johnson).
Letty Lei EDH is a 13-year-old Hanoverian by Limonit out of Grand Vitesse (by Mantari). She too competed well at the CDI3* in Sydney last year with top 10 finishes in all their classes.
Windermere J’Obei W is on debut at CDI level. The nine-year-old gelding is a warmblood-thoroughbred cross by Johnson out of Miss Pompei.
There are 18 CDI4* nominations for the Grand Prix which on Saturday, sets the scene for the first three days of competition. That will be followed by two lay days and then competitors will be again chasing honours in the Grand Prix, Special and Freestyle to Music across the two back-to-back CDI events. Dressage by the Sea is the only CDI4* event in the Southern Hemisphere.
Dressage New Zealand sport manager Wendy Hamerton says the event will be a “huge experience” for them all. All four are chasing Olympic qualifications looking to score 71% or higher in the Grand Prix.
“Every time we get close, scores rise globally making it increasingly difficult to demonstrate the ability to score a potential top sixteen place at the games,” says Wendy.
“But the quality of these horses and experience of these riders collectively is very high. We are starting to create better depth and this event will be very good for New Zealand in terms of having four riders amongst the top Aussies. That line-up (of Australians) is probably as good as it can be as they all vie for a place in the Australian team . It is going to be an epic week at Willinga.”
The CDI4* event includes the likes of Mary Hanna who was campaigning for Tokyo in Europe but returned to the Southern Hemisphere with two top horses after her daughter had an riding accident. Rozzie Ryan is also on the card as is Riley Alexander, Maree Tomkinson and Emma Flavelle-Watts. The event will be livestreamed.
During the event, Willinga Park will also play host to the 2020 FEI Regional Dressage Forum and a masterclass by world champion dressage star Dorothee Schneider.
WHAT: Dressage by the Sea – CDI4*
WHERE: Willinga Park, New South Wales, Australia
WHEN: February 22-March 1, 2020
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THE HORSE DETAILS
Don Amour HM – owned by Wendi and Jon Williamson
JHT Chemistry – owned by John Thompson and Holly Leach
Letty Lei EDH – owned by Victoria Wall
Windermere J’Obei W – owned by Rodney and Anne Parkes and Melissa Galloway
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison