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NSW Winter Dressage Festival

Alycia Targa and CP Dresden 

Alycia Targa and CP Dresden in the early morning fog © Franz Venhaus

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By Roger Fitzhardinge

The NSW Winter Dressage Festival was held at the Hawkesbury Showground next to the Hawkesbury Racecourse at the foot of the Blue Mountains. The Clarendon Grounds Sub Committee ran this competition.

A winter festival it was, with snow in the area down to 700 metres and the road over the Blue Mountains being closed a few times over the weekend.  All the same there was no lack of entries and interest with $10,000 sponsorship, 32 champion rugs and 32 reserve positions and prizes to winners and place getters of all the classes. In attendance were 221 riders and 284 horses and 709 tests were ridden. All classes were catered for from Preparatory through to Grand Prix and Freestyles at each level. The classes included Open, Amateur Owner, Ponies, Young Riders, and Para equestrian.

There were some fantastic horses and the classes all very well contested with big numbers.

When you look at the names that were in the classes it is easy to see that the standard and competition in NSW is extremely good quality and that goes for the depth of the fields as well.

There are some truly amazing young horses coming up the ranks and the advanced class was very strong with many good horses showing all it takes to get to the next level. The Prix St George and Inter I had some very interesting and well scoring horses with the likes of Dresden the Jane and Maurie Bruce-owned gelding winning the Small Tour Champion and the Freestyle for Alycia Targa.

The Advanced was a tie between Amerigo and Roger Fitzhardinge and Boronia HG for Elliot Patterson with Amerigo ending up reserve, also winner of the Advanced Freestyle and then Kate Taylor Wheat with her young Florencio gelding winning one of the Advanced.

Daniella Dierks and Judy Dierks took the quinella in the PSG with Rosetta and Highlight Australia respectively with Dresden a winner in the Inter I and overall Champion.

In the Grand Prix it was a great win and percentage for Judy Dierks and Diamond Star. Judy continues to hand in positive scores with this imported gelding owned by Vicky Newham. She brought him from a novice horse and he only had his first Grand Prix start earlier this year.  A great score of 69.3% was indeed a good job with room for more expression and this will come with time to develop the strength. In the Freestyle they scored a fantastic 72.58%. This is a super horse in the making and perhaps look out Rio!!!!!! Robbie Soster and the beautiful Robali Razzamatazz won the Inter II and second in the Grand Prix with a creditable 67.03% and well deserved indeed. This combination is getting more confident with less and less minor glitches and a score on the improve.. They were actually Champion Big Tour Horse with Weltsohn and Roger Fitzhardinge runner-up. (Diamond Star did not start in the Inter II).

In the Medium Tour it was all smiles for Gina Montgommery and the Imported Weltmeyer Gelding Wallmyer who is so talented but has suffered many allergies over the years since arriving from Germany that this has hampered the training. However a score of 69.048% in the Inter B was exciting and justly deserved. Wallmyer was overall Medium Tour Champion with David Shoobridge and the imported Agent De Jeu runner-up. These two are looking great for the Grand Prix and David made the step up to Medium Tour with seamless ease. With more experience the work will be easier and the tension will dissipate and then the bigger marks will come. It’s early days here. Of course the palomino Stallion, Noble Dancer for Amanda excelled in the Pony classes but in good company and competitive classes.

Daniella also had a great show with her two champion young horses in Bloomers Simply the Best and Solo Feliz. Rodney Martin was the winner with Santa Fe and Alycia Targa on Neversfelde Kenya, a four-year-old by Sir Donnerhall, was runner-up. The novice horses were wonderful and scores were perhaps a little tight but it’s not until you sit and judge that you can really make comments. From an outsider’s perspective, the horses were ridden so well and it appeared that there was plenty of scores of 8 and above to hand out. However when you look at the statistics this was not so.

75% of the marks were between 6 and 7




5901 number of times used

6079 Times used

5460 times used






When it came to 8 and above

















It certainly is not very brave or is it that the horses are not GOOD???

There were plenty of trade stands and shopping a plenty and as you can see, great sponsorship which shows the diversity of people involved in the sport of Dressage. With the trade stands close to the arenas and a great sound system, there was plenty of ambiance and that was great to give all these horses exposure to atmosphere. Plenty of hot food options and great coffee warmed the inner soul and a very relaxed and easy competition that ran smoothly. With Snafflebytes doing the scoring, it was quick to see results and that makes for happy competitors.

The scores are available on the Dressage NSW site under Winter Championships and the closeness of the placings and final percentages are really interesting. To see a few scores that are up and down makes a huge overall difference to the final placings and Champions.

Below is the Champion and Reserves of all the classes. A book could be written about the wonderful performances and the improved riding. When you sit and watch the young riders, it’s creditable to the coaching and preparing of the horses and riders.

What a great Winter Festival and warm congratulations to all who made it happen and to all the riders who made a great showing.

Below is an overview of the Champions and Reserves and it’s quite some list.

It is now to the CDI in Brisbane in a few days time.

For all the results from the NSW Winter Dressage Festival click here

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