As the cream of Australian dressage converged on Willinga Park for the Dressage by the Sea Festival, the local equestrians showed that are among the best in the country.
Previously president of Shoalhaven Dressage Club and now a dedicated committee member, Cathy Chittenden enjoyed a fantastic show with the horse she has had since a foal - Neversfelde Springbok - who was bred by local dressage legend and A Level judge, Jane Bruce.
By winning both Inter A tests and gaining 5th and 3rd Inter B, then winning both Medium Tour Freestyles (to music) – Cathy and Springbok were crowned overall Medium Tour Champions.
“He has not been an easy horse but he’s improving all the time and I’m very proud of how far we’ve come," Cathy said. "To win at Willinga Park is a great honour – this is the best competition in Australia.”
Alycia Targa, the current president of Shoalhaven Dressage Club, was among the prestigious FEI CDI Grand Prix entrants – the International level competition. Alycia rode a horse raised by Jane Bruce - CP Dresden, to take out a fistful of honourable placings at this, the highest level competition in Australia, known as 4 Star Grand Prix.
In the 4 Star Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and in the Grand Prix Freestyle, Dresden placed 6th, 7th; GPS 3rd, 4th; Freestyle 4th, 5th.
“This place is Disneyland for horse sports,” Alycia enthused. “All the best professionals in the country have gathered here to compete – it is a great thrill to do so well at the highest level held in Australia.”
Alycia also rode her mother’s favourite young horse Nyssa in the four-year-old Young Horse tests, gaining a 3rd and a 2nd. Robyn Targa is confident in Nyssa’s progress with Alycia.
“Alycia will always go out and show the horse to their best, and Nyssa is one that we’ve really enjoyed taking out – she takes everything in her stride and always does her best. To be among the top 3 in her age group at this event is terrific,” Robyn said.
Pamela Bice and her much loved pony Rosthwaite Tinkerbell were in the highest National level competitions. The pony competes in the same classes as the purpose-bred warmbloods and managed some mighty placings with 7th in both Intermediare 11 competitions and improving in the Grand Prix CDN from 5th the first week, to gain a 3rd in the final week of competition.
“The facilities here are world class, the surfaces of warm-ups and competition arenas are fantastic. It’s incredible that we get to compete among these stars, and Tink just did her utmost for me. To be here is an amazing experience.” Pamela said.
Pamela also brought her younger horse, Wealth, for the National Medium level competitions. He placed midfield in early competition, then stepped up to a 5th in the second round.
Top local rider James Collin and yet another of the Jane Bruce bred horses were recognised as up-and-coming stars as he and Neversfelde Kipling took out 2nd and 8th in the National Advanced level competitions.
A new section of competition has evolved as a result of the popularity of dressage recently and the Amateur Owners of our area were well represented by local star from the Moruya area, Jeff Adams.
In the Medium tests two seconds were won on Baby Blue, along with some placings with Cool Hand Aloof. Jeff and Baby Blue were crowned Champion AORs.
Jeff is well known with the two stallions that he bred and is campaigning. “Yeah it’s a bit of a blur now, an amazing experience, brilliant place, and yeah the boys did pretty well.”
By pretty well Jeff understates that in the Open series 6 year old classes he and his boys took 3rd & 4th placings. Quite an achievement against fully imported stock ridden by full-time professionals.
Long-time dressage trainer from Moruya, Anne Behringer, also took her young horse to soak up the atmosphere of such a prestigious event and achieved some good placings among a fierce field in the Medium National level competitions.
One of the contenders firmly aiming for the Tokyo Olympics is Victoria Davies-Koch of Berry with her imported buckskin Lusitano stallion Celere. They achieved some impressive placings in the hotly contested open Medium competitions.
“We produced our personal best scores to date in Medium which I am extremely happy about. It is important to put the horses into this exciting atmosphere for preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games competition,” Victoria said.
After a short break they will then look forward to taking Celere to his first FEI CPEDI (Para Dressage International competition) in April which is a qualifier event towards team selection for the 2020 Games. Victoria and Celere have a very promising future having recently produced scores over 70 per cent in FEI Para dressage.