Olympian Heath Ryan (AUT) took a big gamble Saturday night when he decided to try out new music for the Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle at the CDI3* Sydney - Australia Equestrian Grand Final – but that gamble paid off when he took out the inaugural title at the Sydney Showgrounds in front of a packed house. From here, Heath will head to South Australia for the Adelaide International 3DE which will kick off next Friday 18 November through to Sunday 20 November. The shake up to the routine certainly impressed the judges with Heath and Regardez Moi finishing on 71.950% ahead of New Zealand's Louisa Hill and Bates Antonello (70.275%) and Chantal Wigan and Ferero (69.475%).
Heath was able to go one better from his performance at Friday's Grand Prix where he finished second to Louisa. It was a tense wait for the Olympic veteran, who had some tough competition to come after his strong performance.
"I was biting my fingers nails when the last girls went round. They were in great form and it was just one of those nights where things went well for me and they had the odd glitch so I snuck in there – but I've got to keep going now." "It was great for Reagardez Moi as well. His owner passed away last week and I know she would have been really pleased and would be smiling down on us," he said.
The win comes off the back on an impressive result at the National Dressage Championships where the duo finished third and Heath believes this may well be the comeback he needs ahead of selection for the London 2012 Games.
"I don't know if the Olympic team was selected tomorrow I'd make it, but I think I'd be one of the final combinations they'd talk about. The form of Regardez Moi is not getting any worse, he's on a comeback trail for sure. But those girls are so good and they have the history of being consistent as well. This event was for me about establishing form – but it can't be a one off, he's got to do it again and we've got to keep on getting better," said Ryan.
The new Dome Arena setting has provided athletes with the rare opportunity of competing in a European style atmosphere, which Heath believes is critical for the sport.
"This is one of the few occasions where we get a great arena and great atmosphere and in Australia we get very little exposure to that. The guys in the Northern Hemisphere however are used to performing in an arena like that - we're desperate for this sort of exposure and this event has provided us with that," he said.