The NZ Grand Prix Dressage Horse of the Year title is decided over three classes, the Grand Prix, the Special and Freestyle.
A smaller field lined up than seen in previous years with just eight combinations presenting for the CDI trot up and two combinations in the CDN.
Unfortunately, the effects of Covid-19 were starting to become apparent globally resulting in FEI 4* Sandy Hotz from the USA electing not to make the trip at short notice and in the circumstances the FEI gave a dispensation for just four judges to officiate on the CDI 3* but the CIY less affected with the OC being able to reduce the number of judges from five to three .
Ridden with a smile by South Island based twenty-seven year old Melissa Galloway at just his second second CDI, the nine year old JÓbei again showed the form that attracted such huge interest at Willinga Park in February. The judges Susan Hoevenaars, Mary Seefried, Susan Hobson & Betty Brown awarded 69.6% for a very confident and consistent test which showed easy expressive changes, and was good enough to keep the pair 3% ahead of their nearest rivals, William (Bill) Millar and Raukura Satori MH owned by Rosemary Carter and Brett Kendall . Satori has such a classic piaffe with wonderful rhythm and lowering of the quarter, the judges scoring this as a highlight with a sprinkling of 8’s. The age difference between the first and second riders spans four decades – what a wonderfully ageless sport!
Seven combinations riders qualified for the Special and the Freestyle. The Special was another victory for Galloway and JÓbei on 70.19%. Manawatu based Australian rider Cooper Oborn riding Belinda & Emily Stuchbery’s Anamour mare Aphrodite rode a stylish beautifully balanced test for second just ahead of 66.89 with Satori third on 66.28%.
The Freestyle resulted in three from three for Galloway, this time on 73.99% but the next places changed yet again. Victoria Wall and the elegant lightfooted mare Letty Lei EDH had withdrawn from the Special owing to a niggling rider injury but was cleared to ride in the Freestyle scoring 70.45% for second.
When the results of all three tests were combined, Windermere JObèi Wwas crowned the Grand Prix Horse of the Year and William Millar Raukura Satori MH runner up
Four Young Riders contested the CDIY – all new combinations to the level this season. The Preliminary Test was won by Wellington’s Lilly Jefferies on Lindisfarne Laureate but this pair had to settle for second place to Auckland’s Brina Carpenter and Leo Donna in both the Individual Test and the Freestyle to win the NZ Young Dressage Rider of the Year for 2020. Giselle Conway made the 1200 km trip from Queenstown to be rewarded for third
The Dressage Pony of the Title held at FEI Pony level was another Horse of the Year victory for Samuel Gradowski-Smith and Heritage Don Quilla. The pair won the Elementary title in 2019 and have moved seamlessly to the next level scoring 69% in the Freestyle. A strong challenge was laid down on the first day with Lucy Cochrane riding Dani Simpson’s Greenmoor Euphoria narrowly winning the Pony Individual test but having to settle for third behind sanuel and Samantha Belsham on Alpine Park Water Colour
The Young Horse classes were held over just one round to make it easier for these horse to also compete in their grade classes. This meant also for the first time these classes were held in the main oval. The 4Yr title went to Jacinda Younger’s CDS Donstar presented by Cooper Oborn (81%), the 5Yr to Kameroen de Jeu & Bridgitt Barclay and (72.2%) 6Yr Jalyn Special Effects(72.3%) and 7Yr NRM Timbermill Prequel
For full results including all titles points
Sadly this show was the season finale with Taupo CDI , National Dressage & Young Horse Championships, and Para Equestrian Championships and all other NZL national shows for the next three months being cancelled because of Covid-19