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Roger Fitzhardinge reports from the NSW Dressage Championships

 Alycia Targa and CP Dresden were the Intermediate II winners - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Alycia Targa and CP Dresden were the Intermediate II winners.


Words and photos by Roger Fitzhardinge

The NSW Dressage Championships kicked off at SIEC, Horsley Park to a stunning sunny day with temperatures in the low twenties, blue skies and no wind. It was perfect dressage weather and the big class of the day was the Inter II, and a good field of 16 horses in the indoor arena with the new Ebb and Flow surface. What a great competition, with the outright winner being CP Dresden, the bay by the now-famous stallion Damsey.

This power-packed and enthusiastic gelding is owned by Jane and Maurice Bruce of Berry and is ridden by Alycia Targa. A unanimous decision by all five judges, and three scores in the 70’s and two over 69% for a 70.09% and what a fantastic test. It was consistent throughout, with a great uphill frame and ridden in a snaffle bridle this day. It was seamless and effortless, with loads of confidence and contained energy.

On her ride, Alycia said, “In the snaffle he was just so settled and content. Relaxed and with me and I could really feel the harmony. It was the most relaxed in the SIEC indoor that I’ve felt and the surface is now so consistent, I am sure this adds to the confidence. I have always known it was in him… it was just coaxing him to have the confidence in the indoor to let go and swing as he did today. It felt just like a great day as we get in training. It has been a long journey and I have ridden him since he was 4 years old and now at 9 years old — he is amazing and I know he still has more to offer, as he gets stronger and more confident. It’s exciting to be able to show what we have known is there and have developed as a team over so many years.”

Second went to PPH Zeppelin and David McKinnon, gaining the ride as Brett Parbery is in the USA preparing with DP Welmieser for WEG. A pleasing 67.91% and a good test only marred by Zeppelin cantering out of the first piaffe to passage transition, and clean two and one tempis that have been this horse’s Achilles Heel. Third was Amicelli Gold for Leslie Anne Taylor on 67.65%, then Robali Razzamatazz and Robbie McKinnon, and Luxor 118 for Kate Farrell.


PPH Zeppelin and David McKinnon, second in the Inter II.


It was a great class and some pleasing work for sure and all congratulations to Alycia on such a great ride and convincing win…. and in a snaffle!

The Prix St Georges was won convincingly by Rodney Martin and PR Firenz, with a fabulous 73.09% to be nearly 4% ahead of Bloomers Simply The Best for Gordon Pratt (with scores ranging from 72% for 2nd and a 64% for 12th!) and third to Furstin Friendship and Riley Alexander. The judges here saw a few differing things and as was the spread of the marks. One judge saw only 9% from 1st to 24th, where as others saw a range of 19%, 15%, 17%, 15%, 15%. It’s great to see judges making big differences but to see the winner on 74.5%, 73% 73.5% 75.8% and then winning with one on 68.8 % is disappointing, as Firenz was obviously outstanding and what a loose and expressive horse that made the test look easy.

On asking Rodney about his ride, he said, “I was thrilled with Firenz; he is such a lovely horse to work with and I’d like to thank the owners, the James Family, Denise Ceddia our super groom/owner and of course Mathew for his help. Firenz was broken in as a 7 year old and in just under 4 years is now Prix St Georges and he will have a Big Tour start before the end of the year. He is a beautiful horse with amazing extended trot and super half pass, especially in trot where he holds such an easy, cadenced and reaching stride with great regularity. I was a little tardy in the walk and canter pirouettes today, as (they were) a little big and I could have shown a better collection in the preparation, but you live and learn and I know there a few things where he can get better marks. I can only say that I am thrilled to win this class as there was hot competition — but we came out on top today.”

Without doubt the biggest smile for her success today was from Inger Sutherland and her Fidertanz gelding Fairbanks Flo Rida, who gained a first and a second in the two Novice tests to gain the AOR Novice Champion and what a great field here of 28 horses and some great competition. Inger rode horses on the beach and in the fields as a child growing up in Denmark, and then in riding school situations in Germany whilst there. On moving to Australia and having two children now through university and away from home, she took up riding and as with everything Inger does, she threw herself full on into the sport and having had a few schoolmasters over the past 5 years to get the hang of it, bought Flo Rida as a 4 year old two years ago and now has gained Novice Champion at the NSW State Championships. Inger, a passionate sportswoman who skied like a maniac in her youth, has had to conquer a few challenges in her dressage journey over the past five years and what a determined and courageous woman and a thirst to learn and soak up every facet of getting to a top standard that you could imagine. Inger trains hard and is a fanatic about fitness and works out regularly looking after herself, her fitness, and her horse’s health and fitness with no stone unturned.


Inger Sutherland and her Fidertanz gelding Fairbanks Flo Rida, AOR Novice Champions.


On her ride she commented: “I feel so happy. It is surreal. There were so many really good horse and rider combinations in this class today and I am thrilled to have won. I am so lucky to have a wonderful horse and really good coaching. It all has come together for us at this competition ad I am over the moon to be at the top of the list and I am so happy that today was my day.”

Another smiling rider is Sharon Potter for her fabulous win on the brown De Niro mare, Bradgate Park Delilah in the Inter A with a score of 68.85% — and very inexperienced at this level for this pair and to come in ahead of some tough more experienced horses.

Second went to Aber Halo with Riley Alexander and on 67.65%, and what a great stallion for the Mulawa stables.

Sharon has brought Bradgate Park Delilah steadily up through the ranks scoring over 70% at all the levels from the basics up, and now knocking on the 70% door here at the international level on a young mare that’s new to this competition. This mare has all the flare and is still taking it easy with Sharon riding wisely and a little conservatively as the mare sometimes tries too hard — so Sharon just gives her confidence in the ring and takes her time and waits till the power gets turned on. It’s all in the wings and what an exciting mare for the Grand Prix future… watch this space!!!

On talking to the excited yet modest and delightful Sharon, she was full of adoration for the mare and quoted: “I am extremely happy on our performance, given that we are both new to the level and looking forward to bigger and better things in the future.”

The Pony Novice tests were amazing classes as well and big fields with little tail and some very classy acts — especially from the Champion Bieni Bo He We, ridden by Michelle Baker for the Southern Highlands. They didn’t have it all their way, gaining a win in the 2.2 and a second in the 2.3 to SLH Don Philipp for Anne Riley. This is a seriously good mover and so well shown in the ring by Michelle, scoring a 67% and a 72.7% to gain the Championship and well deserved.


Pony Novice Champion Bieni Bo He We, ridden by Michelle Baker.


On her ride, she said: “This pony gives me the most amazing feeling. She is powerful and elastic and rides like a big horse. She is so talented and so willing and glides around the arena with consummate ease. I am lucky to be given the opportunity to ride her and adore each and every ride and to win the Championship here at the States is a thrill for us all and amongst such strong competition… we love it.”

What a great first day and looking forward to the more power and high quality competition over the next three days!







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