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Roger Fitzhardinge reports from day one of the excting Sydney CDI

Brett Parbery and Weltmeiser show the reason they won. Ease.Balance. Power and finesse
Brett Parbery and Weltmeiser show the reason they won. Ease, balance, power and finesse.

Words and photos by Roger Fitzhardinge

Day one of the Sydney CDI and what an amazing day of competition it was. The weather was simply perfect for riders and spectators from the grounds at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre and with the recent wet weather the surrounds and the grass were looking superb! The surfaces were as good as you get and the horses seemed to really enjoy the day. In the young horse classes there were no real surprises and it was Rodney Martin and SPH Renaissance by Sandro Hit with an 8 overall.  A mere 0.04% behind was Artes Lauries Gift ridden by Gina Montgomery, by Lauries As and third to another Lauries As in Laquester for Tor van den Berge on 7.82. A tightly bunched group followed with the top 17 all over.

In the five year olds it was Bloomers Simply The Best for Daniella Dierks by Sonny Boy for 8.22 and also a winner of the first round at DJWTS, a horse with great tempo and rhythm in all paces.  In second was Florette HG on 7.98 by Florestan and ridden by Alexis Hellyer and owned by Ella Weight. This mare lacks a little suppleness as yet but a wonderful mare for the future. Third was Dereen Rock N Rolla for Sheridan Ashwood with Maree Tomkinson and Donna Elena by Don Schufro in fourth on 7.88 with a mark of 6.4 for the walk ??? It did appear huge and in a good way but obviously a few rhythm problems were seen by the judges but not so much from the onlookers. An impressive mare that gained great marks in all other paces.

In the six year old it was again the riding of Daniella Dierks that made the black stallion Solo Feliz shine and after they won champion at the DJWTS and 8.36 surely secured him the top spot. Daniella actually has pneumonia but wasn’t going to miss out on this show! Second went to the uphill and bold Romper Stomper, by Royal Hit for Maree Tomkinson on 8.1. In third was Samba De Janiero for Fiona Selby, this leggy brown mare being by Sarkozy a whisker behind on 7.98.

The young horse classes are becoming popular and well supported. It is a great close competition with the second round on Friday.

Silbermond winner of the CDI PSG
Rachael Downs and Silbermond winners of the CDI PSG

The superstar Small Tour was in the indoor arena and saw a fantastic win in such a classy field to the Sir Donnerhall gelding Silbermond, owned by John Potter of Wagga and being shown for him at this time by Rachael Downs. This tall and elegant horse has serious eye appeal and despite being somewhat tense in the indoor and very light in the bridle, Rachael kept a lid on him and the test was simply oozing quality for a great 72.61%. I’m sure John will be over the moon with this performance and there is plenty more in the tank when he settles into his new rider and the environment. He is relatively green to this level and a real star for the future. In second place was Furst Famous for Lisa Martin on 69.24% a wonderfully elastic and supple horse with a huge future. This mare really shows a great degree of ease and confidence with powerful yet elastic steps. Third was World Star for Kate Taylor-Wheat on a great score of 67.95%. A mistake in the first extended trot was very costly but what a horse and well ridden indeed. He has been out of action from a series of minor injuries and is back stronger and better than ever and is a horse that needs a few shows under his belt to bring out the best in him. Now that he is back in action he will gain confidence from each start and that’s what makes a Grand Prix horse. Kate rides him so well. In front of the leg and so uphill and still with a happy and ears pricked attitude. Then Adloo Richard for Mathew Dowsley, followed by SPH Sonata Hit for Rodney Martin who was first a little to on the game so to speak and hurried a few movements, but a super horse for the future especially when he shows us all the fabulous one tempis that were not required!

The Inter I will be a huge class again today and it will be a great competition to witness. The field of inter I horses is again fantastic and expect bigger scores. 

The PSG CDN saw 19 horses start and a big win to Highlight Australia on 67.34% for Judy Dierks.  This big chestnut stallion showed a lot of elastic steps and a great contact. In second place was Lets Jazzabit for Lizzie Wilson-Fellows on 67% followed by Borsato foo Nicole Tough with a score of 66.68%

Mary Hanna and Umbro
Mary Hanna and Umbro placing 2nd on the GP CDI

In the Grand Prix CDI it was a win to DP Weltmeisser and Brett Parbery. This was a very well presented performance with no ups and downs but solid, settled and confident for all things to achieve a 7 plus and a score of 69.00%. It was well deserved and no question that it was a little conservative! Brett shows this horse with such a great frame and balance and makes it all look harmonious. In second place was Umbro and Mary Hanna on 68.94% so so close. Mary had scores from 63.7% (17th ) to 73.3% to be (1st). Pretty amazing score difference but it looked a little tense with not a lot of swinging and open paces. In third was Diamond Star for Judy Dierks and again a serious counting mistake in the two tempis was dramatic for sure! Still this young chestnut by Diamond Hit continues to impress and get better at every start. In fourth was Vom Fensten for Julie Brougham from New Zealand. This gelding may be small but what a great attitude and a sharp and enthusiastic mover for the sport. In fifth was Luxor 118 for Kate Farrell on 68.2%. Then there was Heath Ryan on Regardez Moi who again made a fault free test and looked so confident to actually be first with one judge. Then was Furst Freidrich by Furst Piccollo and Jayden Brown. This gelding way better in the contact and a better marks for sure. AEA Metalic and Dirk Dijkstra were in eighth place yet 1st with one judge! The marks and placing’s were all over the shop in this class and it’s a wonder as to how the riders keep all these discrepancies under wraps. Next was Amicelli Gold for Lesley Anne Taylor. Diamantina and Maree Tomkinson were next with 67.38%, needless to say one judge had them in fourth. The judges were certainly not all on the same page in judging here and that was a shame. The wins were certainly spread out amongst the top horses and it did leave the audience and probably the riders a little dazed, but there is always worth in the judges marks and comments. When you think that Diamantina can finish 10th and still be a winner with one judge it amazes you to get your head around the scores. Could it be that there was a divide amongst the judges here? One type likening the expressive movers that held a bit of tension or those who liked a more fluent and self carriaged and supple way of going?

Maree and Dimantina shoe a supple and uphill Canter half pass left
Maree Tomkinson and Diamantina show a supple and uphill Canter half pass left

With Brett’s test it was for sure harmonious and never looked produced in the paces but instead super easy and confident with Brett’s aids imperceptible and isn’t that the way? The judges all had different winners and that’s not always a bad thing as at least the judges are really being independent and that’s all you can ask for.

In the CDN Grand Prix it was a win to Duchess 2 ridden with great feel and empathy by Judith Smith on 63.58% and then Brett Parbery and the tall and expressive Good as Gold and third was Brentanus for Victortia Welch. The first 5 placings all between 61.365 and 63.58%, a pretty good class and good scores for the next lot to Grand Prix CDI.

The newish level Medium Tour saw the Inter A be ridden today and another win the FEI Meister Brett Parbery with PPH Zepplin on 65.83%. Second went to the Qld combination of Jenny Gherke and Fairbanks Jazz Time on 64.91%, with Jarrah R for Rozzie Ryan next and a 64.91% with Stedinger and Gina Montgomery in fourth. It was group of 13 and a good competition and a level well received by the riders.

Tayla Desmet continues to blitz the Under 25 classes. Today she won on a score of 68.68% for the beautiful Rodrigo III to beat Brimstone Anakiwa for Elloise Devlin and with Elizabeth Hulin and Moscow to be third. Some pretty good riding and well presented tests and horses.

It was a full on day and as always discrepancies in the orders the judges had the riders, especially in the Grand Prix CDI all over the shop but that is what a subjective sport is all about! For sure there will be some analyzing going on into to the wee hours of the morning from the riders, judges and dressage enthusiasts alike.

Today is a new day however with fresh eyes so it will be interesting watching to see what the feeling is amongst the riders. They are on a pathway to the pinnacle of dressage and they will continue along that path until they get to Grand prix and see who is the fittest and strongest at the end. It’s a tough climb but interesting and strengthening along the way. It was overall a great competition yesterday and for sure there are many happy riders out there who know where they stand and are simply happy that they are treading the path to the pinnacle of dressage, the Grand Prix. Great horses, great riding and above all superlative competitions.

**Check out Roger Fitzhardinge's beautiful photo gallery from the event here...


Also listen to the exclusive audio interview below with Maree Tomkinson as she discusses with Roger Day One of competition...

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