Sydney CDI 3* Grand Prix Freestyle Highlights

The Sydney CDI***

was voted by Equestrian Australia as the best competition for 2010, however in 2011 the rain threatened the carnival atmosphere and certainly caused some inconvenience to both horses and riders. The outdoor arenas were a little too wet but stood up to the difficulties, thanks to a superlative maintenance team and the indoor events were treated to world class staging with the Saturday evening competitions playing to a packed house. The Grand Prix Freestyle saw a battle of the giants as the two Australian based WEG team members Brett Parbery riding Victory Salute and Rachael Sanna on Jaybee Alabaster gave it their best to secure dominance at this important London Qualifier.

Despite some difficulties with the one times changes, Brett secured the top spot in the Grand Prix. Rachael drew on her vast experience, going back to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 at this venue to secure the winners place on the podium for the Special and pulled out all stops with a a beautifully choreographed and exciting freestyle test which scored 74.250%, again, the winning score. Mariette Withages who officiated at E gave Rachael 80% for her artistic content with the rest of the judging panel, not far behind.

Brett Parbery and Victory Salute performed in the polished and professional manner that the world has come to admire and the imposing Australian bred gelding surely danced to the ideally selected music. Brett experienced a few problems throughout this competition with the one times changes and this sort of problem is always costly at the top level. Only Mary Seefried at B saw Brett as the winner and the marking was pretty consistent which is reassuring for the riders. They scored 73.700%.

Mary Hanna rode her 'second' string horse in the freestyle - what an abundance of riches to have two beautiful Grand Prix horses to choose from!Sancette was third in the Grand Prix on Thursday the 28th and Umbro 6th. In the Special, Sancette was 6th and Umbro did not start. Leading up to this event, Sancette has had some time off and Mary was worried about his fitness and readiness for three demanding days. Umbro got the gig in the freestyle - and why not ... as he partnered Mary to victory at Equitana in late 2010 and has proven his flair for the freestyle element. Umbro rose to the occasion again and put in a very good performance for third place on 69.475%.

The London Olympic team spots are wide open and the Australian selectors have a gruelling year ahead.