Kiwi dressage rider Vanessa Way put up some pleasing results at the weekend’s Hartpury International Festival of Dressage in Britain.
Way, who is from Taranaki, put up two top four placings, including fourth in the FEI CDI3* Intermediate I Freestyle on Don Archie, a horse owned by Carl Hester and Anne Cory who was tacking his first kür.
Earlier in the show Way and the 10-year-old by Dimaggio placed third in the CDI3* FEI Intermediate I and eighth in the FEI Prix St George. Dane Anders Dahl and Selten HW won all three classes. Carl Hester was a comfortable winner of the FEI Grand Prix, scoring 74.6% aboard Nip Tuck, well ahead of the second-placed Anders Dahl on Wie-Atlantico de Ymas on 69.560%.
Don Archie, a British bred hanoverian gelding, has not competed for a couple of years, and both Way and Hester were pleased with the 70.975% mark for the freestyle.
“We didn’t practice it and Archie has never done (anything) to music at all. I had (my husband) Brooke send me the freestyle from New Zealand, so it wasn’t designed for Archie at all but he tried hard,” she says. “The canter work was definitely my highlight. Carl was stoked.”
Hester described the test a true Kiwi-style freestyle.
Way has been in the UK since mid May on what was meant to be a three week trip to work and train with Hester. However, her departure date just keeps getting pushed out, and on the back of her results at the weekend, she is now deciding whether to stay for the CDI3* Hickstead event.
“Carl just makes dreams come true,” she says. “I can’t thank him enough for this opportunity. Having such a professional team behind me is incredible.”
Groom Alan Davis was “exceptional” and did everything to ensure Archie was able to produce the best performance possible.
“I want to keep being involved and see my international career develop more.”
In return for lessons and opportunity, Way rides a lot of horses each day at the barn. “I do get the challenging ones, but am rewarded by being taught the finer art of dressage.”
But with horses, a husband and students at home in Taranaki, Way knows she also needs to be in the Southern Hemisphere.
“To be international, I need to be in Europe to get the miles and training. The constant training I have had with Carl since I have been back has lifted my riding again – it is just fantastic!”
Being surrounded by top combinations helps, too.
“These are horses and riders who have been at Olympic Games, European Champs and other top events. They know their horses, and that is partly why Carl is so pleased with our results today too,” she says.
“It’s a good challenge for me to be on a different horse at an international.”
Way’s goal is to ride at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
• Fellow New Zealander Shiwon Green rode Da Vinci to ninth in the Intermediate I at Hartpury.
Da Vinci, by De Niro, scored 65.22% in the 35-strong class which was won by Spencer Wilton on Alfons wtih 71.80%. Green said the placing in the premier league level class was all the more rewarding because it is just four weeks since her horse was given the all clear to come back to ‘proper’ work after a four-month layoff due to injury.
Earlier in the festival, the combination finished 13th with 63.64% in the Prix St Georges class 1b.
“I am looking forward to finding those few extra percent between now and our first CDI at the end of the month at Hickstead,” she said.
Green is formerly from Waikato but is now based near Cirencester in Britain.