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Roger Fitzhardinge reports from the final day of the NSW Dressage Championships

Sally Rizzuto and Quarterland in the Preliminary - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Sally Rizzuto and Quarterland in the Preliminary.


Words and photos by Roger Fitzhardinge

So it was the last day of the NSW Championships and another rider-friendly weather day with cool temperatures… yet no rain.

The intensity of the competition had not simmered at all, and the Prelim and Medium classes were really quite something! In the Preliminary class there was a score at last that mirrored the quality of the work, and it was Justin Bayly (84.78%) and NZL judge Virginia Tocher (78.26%) who put their money where their mouths were.




This beautiful huge Friesian stallion Tjibbe B, owned by Jenny Rapson, was so wonderfully presented by the ever-delightful Daniella Dierks. They oozed their way around the arena in effortless style and made the transitions and tempos within the paces exemplary and seamless. After all, this is a Preliminary class and this horse was deserving of every final mark at 81.52%. Thank goodness for judges who dared to be real. A GOOD (8) test and that was for certain. The uphill tendency for a young horse was awesome and the ground cover in the strides and the balance produced through good training and attention to the training scale was obvious. A great horse and a great ride. Daniella also was third in that class on SPH Santarina (75.76%).


Daniella Dierks and the Jenny Rapson-owned Tjibbe B won the Preliminary 1.3 with 81.52% - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Daniella Dierks and the Jenny Rapson-owned Tjibbe B won the Preliminary 1.3 with 81.52%.

In the other Prelim test, the 1.2, it was a turn of the tides and SPH Santarina, ridden by Daniella and owned by the well-known breeder and owner Andrea Beatty, won with a 74.52% to beat Tjibbe B on 73.85%. In this class there were 12 horses over 70% and in the test that Tjibbe B won, there were 9 horse over 70%. This is wonderful and very much deserved to these dedicated riders on talented and well trained horses. Great judging, honest passionate and decisive. There were plenty of good horses down the list a little and in this short test there is no room to mess up one movement, as down the placings that would put you. The quality was fantastic and there were many horses in the class that could have won and were well worth mentioning.


Danni Walliss and Karizmah Billionaire in the Medium classes - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Danni Walliss and Karizmah Billionaire in the Medium classes.

In the Medium tests it was no surprise to see Santiago and Matthew Dowsley fresh from Advanced Champions, and two great wins to show the way in both the Medium tests with 75.7% and 75.8%; they were crowned Medium Champion. He was 5% and 3% in front of the second place getters in Jim Collins and Neversfelde Kipling in the 4.3 and Lady Loxley for Elisabeth Hulin in the 4.2. This brown gelding by Sandro Hit is certainly consistently great and one for sure to watch as he enters the FEI ranks.


Alycia Targa and CP Dresden finished second in the Grand Prix Special - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Alycia Targa and CP Dresden finished second in the Grand Prix Special.

The Inter II was only a three horse class and a win to Amicelli Gold and Leslie-Anne Taylor. This horse still having a major problem with the C end of the arena and at one stage put his head in the air and charged off out of passage, having to be turned in a circle to regain control before going cautiously back and resuming the test. It is such a shame as the tension is seriously evident and with this tension comes mouth issues. Lesley-Anne does a great job and she's ever patient and persevering and when he gets it all together he will certainly have enormous percentages as he is a true athlete but mentally very sharp as well. Second was Alycia Targa and Dresden, again in a snaffle bridle and full of energy and expression and some of the best piaffe and passage we have seen in competition from this pair. A mistake in the two tempis when a spectator decided it was time to vigorously shake a shopping bag behind him… and a dog skirmish broke out at the first halt… not helping the relaxation stakes! Third went to Don Rubin and Susan Elekessy and a much better test than in the Freestyle where tension spoilt the self-carriage and confidence.


Lesley-Anne Taylor and Amicelli Gold in the Grand Prix Freestyle - © Roger Fitzhardinge

Lesley-Anne Taylor and Amicelli Gold.

What an amazing days competition and what an even more exciting four days that saw amazing horses well trained and ridden well.

One would have to say that the Matthew Dowsley and Rodney Martin duo danced their way to amazing results…

Santiago (Matthew Dowsley)

Champion Medium horse
Champion Advanced horse

AEA Prestige (Matthew Dowsley)

First in the Grand Prix Freestyle
Second in the Grand Prix

PR Firenz (Rodney Martin)

First in the Prix St Georges
First in the Inter I
First in the Inter I Freestyle

…And not a score under 70% from any one of these tests! This is quite amazing and worthy of great accolades.

The NSW dressage Championships was a real show case of the talented horse riding and coaching that is evolving in the sport of dressage and let's hope that the understanding of how to judge these talented combinations continues to improve and produce positive judging that encourages better results.

Last of all, it was so fabulous to see so many riders wearing the royal blue arm band in memory of Amanda Shoobridge. Amanda recently passed away in a hotel room in London having succumbed to Meningococcal, and as fate would have it also Nicole Cullen who passed away after a huge logistical battle with her life after a Meningococcal episode. So dreadfully sad that we have lost our two friends who were a real part of the equestrian family. May they rest in peace ad I am sure they were proud to have been recognised so well by the NSW Dressage Championships and they will never be far from our thoughts.









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