The program for the third and final day of the Sydney CDI was definitely the most enjoyable for spectators. The indoor arena played host to four freestyle competitions which meant a diverse range of music could be heard filtering throughout the parklands of the Sydney International Equestrian Centre, adding atmosphere from early in the morning. As the day progressed the coffee vendors got busier as did the traffic marshals. The first Freestyle of the day was the IRT Advanced Freestyle. Victoria Welch from Queensland secured first and second place. Her lovely Australian bred warmblood, Glogau, who flows from movement to movement, came first and her massive 18 hand Hanoverian, Brentanus, came second. Victoria rode a beautiful test with all paces and transitions perfectly to the music. Victoria was pleased. "He (Brentanus) was a bit tired from yesterday but I'm pleased. This is only the second time we have used this music and it is his first big event." Third place went to Anne-Catherine Hudson on Reference F.
The Equestrian NSW Intermediate II (CDN) had a field of 15. One of Australia's most accomplished riders, Judy Dierks, secured first place on the imported Oldenburg, Feramo K which is owned by Andrew and Carol Oatley. Second place went to Ann Slatford on her Hanoverian mare Silvery. This was a great achievement as Ann had a difficult ride on Silvery yesterday in the Grand Prix CDI. "After yesterday I decided to scratch from the GP Freestyle and do the Inter II. It was a training decision. I felt I needed to go back a step so we could hopefully re-build some confidence for me and her. I'm really pleased with how she went. It was the right decision". And third went to Sue Hearn on Remmington.
Under 25 rider, Jodie Newall, also did well considering she is new to this level. Jodie and Maxx Jasper came 6th. Last year Jodie lost her FEI horse and was in search of a seasoned GP horse. After a phone call to Sue Steggle who owns Maxx Jasper, the partnership was formed. "It was perfect timing. It was the challenge I needed," said Jodie. Each time they compete their partnership strengthens as does their performance.
The winner of yesterday's FEI Young Rider Individual Test CDI-Y, Elliot Patterson, came up with the goods once again in the Revelwood Warmblood Stud FEI Young Rider Freestyle (CDI-Y). Not only was his test accurate but his choice of music was perfect for his horse, Leandro. Elliot was planning to ride in the open CDI competitions but changed his mind and decided to stay in the FEI Young Rider classes. "I wanted to take the pressure of myself for one more year," said Elliot. Second went to Megan Bryant and her free moving mare, Donabella, and third place was secured by Hannah Dodd on Waikiwi.
One of the most enjoyable competitions was the Gow-Gates Prix St Georges Derby. The 'Derby' is designed to test the skills of riders. Two riders from each participating nation draw horses that they have not been riding during the event. The 'draw' is from the hat on the day of competition. Riders have a set time (30 minutes) before the test to familiarise themselves with their mount. Winning the individual competition was Matthew Dowsley on UQ Anapavlova. Second went to Elliot Patterson on Neversfelde Kudu. "I was pleased to get Neversfelde Kudu for my ride," smiled Elliot. "The calibre of horse this year is so much better than last year which makes it easier but also means the competition is stronger." Third place went to Anne-Catherine Hudson on Jentzen.
As Matthew and Elliot were the Australian representatives they also won the Horseland International Prix St Georges team competition. Second went to Canada with Lindsay Seidel-Wassenaar on Pinnamurra Ricardo and Esmee Ingham on Colonial Hot & Handsome. Third place went to the European representatives, Anne-Catherine Hudson on Jentzen and Lucy Miller (Ireland) on HRC Cascador.
By 5pm, the grand stand was starting to fill, all waiting for the Zilco Intermediate Freestyle CDN. Although Matthew Dowsley and Falstermeyer won the Intermediare-I yesterday, they were not entered in the freestyle. This left the door open for a number of horses to take the top of the dais. There was only one and half points between the top three. First place went to Kate Taylor-Wheat on World Star. This was a great achievement as World Star has only been back in work for 7 months after having Equine Herpes Virus which put him out of work for 11 months. "I'm thrilled," said Kate. "His half-passes were great. It was only during the second pirouette that I nearly lost him but he stayed with me and listened for the whole test." Kate couldn't keep a smile off her face. Second went to Daniella Dirks on the big imported Hanoverian, Luxor 118, and third place went to David Shoobridge and the incredibly consistent stallion, OO Seven.
Last but certainly not least was the ever popular Hamilton Island Grand Prix Competition (CDI). The first horse to get the crowd going was the Friesian stallion, Django of Cacharel, ridden by Jeremy Janjic. Although this combination is not quite at the stage of placing in the top three, the horse does have a Facebook page with 1500 followers - the crowd love him! But by the end of the night, things had changed. Third place went to Tor Van Den Berge on the stallion, Fisherman's Friend. This combination has improved at each competition and still has a lot more to show. Second went to Maree Tomkinson and Diamantina IV. The crowd watched with awe as this amazing moving mare eat up the ground. So what did Maree think of the ride? "She was beautiful in there. She always stays with me even when she's scared." And to Heath Ryan's surprise, he and his Rubinstein stallion, Regardez Moi, came first. Just before the results came out, Heath's comment on the test was, "Not the best test we've done. He was a bit tight. Maree did really well so there you go." The judges obviously didn't see it that way.
As usual, everyone had a great night and those who were lucky enough to experience the three days also had a smile on their dial. By the end of the night, you could hear people chatting about their favourite freestyle. It's this sort of reaction that helps to increase the profile of dressage in Australia. Although the Australian Riders competing at Mannheim were missed, it was refreshing to see new combinations moving up through the ranks.
Well done to all those who made it happen.