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Roger Fitzhardinge reports from day two at the NSW Dressage Championships

Judy Dierks and Diamond Star, the Grand Prix winners - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Judy Dierks and Diamond Star, the Grand Prix winners.


Words and photos by Roger Fitzhardinge

Day two at the NSW Dressage Championships and all eyes were for sure on the Grand Prix that started late in the afternoon.

It was a great win to Judy Dierks and the Vicki Newham-owned Diamond Star, with their best ever score of 72.261%!

Judy said after her test: “I think my ride today was solid and consistent and we made no mistakes and that is always a plus, and so we are very happy with our performance. This is my best score to date and Diamond Star is still a quite young horse in this class. We also needed to really show our consistency and upward trending marks in this Grand Prix competition to really consolidate our worth to be the reserve horse for WEG and show that we are improving. I am so happy that we continue to grow and develop as a pair and our scores continue to become better and better. I believe there is still more in the tank for Diamond Star as I know his piaffe and passage tour can really show more than he did today, and that only comes now with experience and strength and having a happy horse. As I said there was a bit of pressure on us today and we came out with flying colours and I am proud of our efforts and look forward to the freestyle tomorrow!"

The test was for sure worthy of every mark and Diamond Star was in a great shape and with better suppleness, especially in the half passes. It was a good job indeed under some pressure to prove a point and a personal best.





Matthew Dowsley and AEA Prestige finished 2nd in the Grand Prix on 72% - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Matthew Dowsley and AEA Prestige finished 2nd in the Grand Prix on 72%.


In second was a real up and coming star for Matthew Dowsley in AEA Prestige, owned by Denise Ceddia. This combination has hardly had a Grand Prix start and made their way through the test with ease and confidence and not a mistake. Quite an achievement and so well ridden by Matthew Dowsley who really is a master of wonderful test riding with an amazingly centred and precise position that makes the whole effort look easy. A score of 72% very nearly won, and there is more in the tank here as he is very inexperienced at the level and Matthew rode for a clean and calm test, not putting super expression and energy into the horse and test as yet – but some of the work in the warm up arenas over the past few days has had heads turning and rightfully so! A super horse and looking like one of the best combinations that Australia has produced. Watch this space. Third was Luxor 118 for Kate Farrell and an experienced test with flare and appeal.


Kate Farrell and Luxor 118 in the Grand Prix where they scored 68.09% - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Kate Farrell and Luxor 118 in the Grand Prix where they scored 68.09%.


Matthew had another awesome horse in the Advanced in Santiago who was Advanced Champion with two wins and scores of 75.20% and 73.86% and what a fantastic effort for this also inexperienced Sandro Hit gelding. Again, Matthew is simply so focussed and rode the test with consummate ease and adjustability. A combination well worth a watch here and for sure another Grand Prix horse in the wings. The quality in the Advanced was also awesome with David Mckinnon and Woodside Lady Loxley and Legend of Loxley both scoring over 72% to be second and third respectively in the 5.2 and both over 69% in the 5.3 to be fourth and fifth, but Lord of Loxley slightly in front in this test. What great horses at this level leading into FEI – the standard is exciting here with 8 of the 15 over 68% in difficult Advanced tests that are hard to get good percentages in!


Mary Houghton and BZ Redoutes were placegetters in the AOR Advanced classes - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Mary Houghton and BZ Redoutes were placegetters in the AOR Advanced classes.


To top off yet another win for the Dowsley/Martin camp, it was PR Firenz for Rodney Martin who won the Inter I by three percent from Bloomers Simply the Best and Gordon Pratt. Quite an amazing test as well and unstoppable.

In the Novice Open it was Becks Gold II ridden by Caroline Hooper who won both tests with scores of 74.5% and 74.9%. What a great horse and Caroline shone today, riding like she owned the arena and no one was going to get that championship away from her. Becks Gold was effortless and this well balanced and elastic horse made his way through the two tests error free and made it look like a stroll in the park. It was a stunning effort and admired by many. This horse has a huge future and looks to have all the energy and will to go all the way to Grand Prix.

Caroline was emotional after her second test and could barely speak for the joy of riding such a test, but commented later: “Becks Gold is my dream horse. Such athleticism combined with a true authentic willingness to work hard, makes him such an awesome, dynamic animal. I will try my best to develop and maintain his true integrity… so blessed!”

Runner up was Angela Delamont with Showdown Orlando in a very hotly contested battle. Angela gaining a third and a fourth with her Shiraz Black gelding. Kate Taylor-Wheat was in the mix with a second and fifth with the big and loose moving and very athletic Destano II by a Destinados stallion and imported. This five year old has power plus and will really come into his own as he goes up the grades.

The Novice class was full of super horses and as many said why were there not several around the 80% mark and understandably so!
Helen Macaskill and F1 Sonny Bill was a star in the AOR Advanced, where 15 horses competed, to gain a first and a second and were consistent throughout and again a strong class.


Kate Taylor-Wheat and Destano II scored 69.79% and 74.57% in the Novice tests - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Kate Taylor-Wheat and Destano II scored 69.79% and 74.57% in the Novice tests.


In the Advanced Pony, it was Justin Worthy and Glegannon Artorious who won the championship with a win and a second. Susan Elekessy was unfortunately eliminated after their test for having ridden Devine Miss M with a top hat on instead of a helmet, as now no EA tests can be ridden unless in a helmet.

In the Inter I AOR, Jos West and the black Rotspon gelding, Hunterview Rockstar, with all the chrome in the world came out on top with a 64.62% test and it was for sure a delighted Jocelyn who deservedly won that rosette and well done.

Another one of the highlights of the day was to watch Bradgate Park Delilah cruise her way through the Inter B with Sharon Potter. It was late arvo and the sun had come out with dark grey sky in the background. The arena seemed surreal and what a treat to watch this pair, who have come from the lowest level, all the way through to here and to win this class with a great 67.1%. Not only was it a beautiful test, but there is not one movement here that isn’t seen in the Grand Prix and not a mistake in sight. The changes a highlight for sure, as is the half pass trot –  especially the one to the right today. This mare by De Niro is keen and honest and always forward, which is great but only patient training. Getting her to wait and carry weight will show the goods at Grand Prix and Sharon is doing exactly this. The bond now between these too has become seriously evident and it’s so good to see such improvement with patient training when at Small Tour the mare was becoming a little onward bound and worried, as she often tried too hard. It’s all coming back together and another exciting Grand Prix prospect.

Another day and despite threatening to rain there was hardly a drop and not even the State Dressage Championships can break this long dry spell!! Still two more days of competition and what a great show of talented horses and rides it has been thus far.








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