Australia’s Saddleworld Dressage Festival opened with sunshine and a slight breeze, making it an excellent day for the sport. As per usual there was some excellent riding and close competition.
Day 1 – Thursday December 6
The 5 year old Young Horse began early in the day and was taken out by Ponderosa Stud Royal Danc from South Australia, followed by CP Dresden and MP Ravenna. Followed by the 5 year old Young Pony class which was won by Sharyn McCombe on the Welsh x Warmblood Yarramee Smarty Pants.
Ferrero Rocher, the magnificent Chestnut Stallion took out the Intermediate I Championship, just ahead of Rendezvous with less than a percent difference in their final scores.
Local rider Kerry Mack had a good start to a busy weekend winning the Intermediate II on her seasoned Stallion Mayfield Pzazz just ahead of South Australian rider Susan Paix on Sheer Etiquette.
The Preliminary Championship was taken out by NSW rider Courtney Larard on MP Ravenna with an impressive score of 75.3%, ahead of Dicavelli Diesel.
Mary Hanna, who recently returned from the London Olympics, won the Advanced Championships on Holly Cuttler’s beautiful imported Mare Diva Royale narrowly beating the equally beautiful Mare Debstar LP ridden by Maree Tomkinson.
The Rising Star Novice Pony was won by Baringa First Class, ridden by 14 year old Brianna Cartwright. Followed by the FEI Pony Class being won by Brumby Jack, ridden by Georgina Barrey. This year was the first year this classes were included in the festival and are specifically designed to encourage young riders moving up through the ranks of dressage. Jill Cobcraft a strong ambassador for pony dressage generously sponsored cash prizes for place getters.
The evening concluded with the 6yo Young Horse and Pony classes providing entertainment to the riders during their welcome dinner. The eventual winners were Revelwood Destiny with Amanda Shoobridge and Sydney Evans with Dara Park Tequila Sunrise with a respectful 7.1 score.
Day two – Friday, December 7
The Pony Novice Championship was awarded to Baringa First Class ridden by young NSW rider, Brianna Cartwright.
The Advanced Pony Championship was won by Stephanie Dijkstra on Tina Barker’s imported Kennedy WE, a previous placegetter at the Bundeschampionate. Kennedy WE received respectable scores from all judges and is no doubt going to be a strong asset to the Australian Pony breeding industry.
NSW dominated the Jones & Berkley Prix St Georges, taking out first and second place with Mark Kiddle coming in first for his ride on Waitano closely followed by Amanda Shoobridge on Ferrero Rocher. Gitte Donvig, daughter of the late Gert Donvig awarded Cheryl Fort the Gert Donvig Memorial Trophy for her ride on Rendezvous as highest placed Victorian in in the Prix St Georges. This award was very fitting as Cheryl was a good friend of Gert’s.
The Kieffer Saddles Novice Championship was a close one with the eventual champion going to Gitte Donvig riding Brioni. Another fitting winner with Gitte riding in a Kieffer saddle.
The Grand Prix programme began with Hayley Gilbert taking out the Equestrian Victoria Grand Prix CDN on her elegant mare Odiana K.
The much anticipated Pacific League World Cup Final Grand Prix supported by the Australian Sports Commission and Equestrian Australia High Performance Program was won by Rozzie Ryan and GV Bullwinkle narrowly ahead of Diamantina ridden by Maree Tomkinson, David Shoobridge and 00 Seven were hot on their heels coming in third place with less than 0.2%, setting the scene for a fantastic showdown on Saturday night.
The class of the day was the Canine Capers dog races, competition was fierce and the stakes were high! There were tears of joy and frustration, blind judges, threats of protests but no one brave enough to challenge the system. The eventual Champion Small dog when to multi champion ‘Scooter’ with Champion large dog going to ‘Jack’. Both dogs received lovely collars donated by Flexible Fit Equestrian.