• Fran Cleland

Award winners continue to give back to their disciplines


ABOVE: Matt Williams has gone on to represent Australia at three Olympic Games. Picture: SHANNON BRINKMAN

THE Victorian Young Rider of the Year awards began in 1987 as a means to give promising young riders in showjumping, eventing, dressage and show horse a chance to be recognised for their talent.

It is aimed at athletes aged between 16 and 21 (or 14 to 21 in the show horse section) who demonstrates outstanding sportsmanship, performance, contribution to sport and leadership qualities in their chosen discipline.


Its success is clearly visible on the honour board at Werribee Park, particularly in showjumping, where Matt Williams, who won in 2003, has represented Australia at three Olympic Games.


There are several others who have competed internationally, as well as many who have remained in the sport in roles such as course designers and administration.


Stephen Lamb, for example, has been an Olympic and World Equestrian Games selector and team manager.


In eventing, Nigel Thompson followed up a successful career as a rider by taking the position of team selector and Katja Weiman, who has competed internationally at five-star level, is now a highly respected coach.


Sam Jeffree, who won in 2016 and was later judged as the open Victorian rider of the year, and now six years on as a professional rider has nine horses in training.


Most of the dressage and show horse winners have been successful in top level competition and, what is most noticeable, is how many have gone on to be top level judges in their own sport.


Many since their win now have their own youngsters competing, and of the list, very few have not stayed close to their sport.


The top 10 finalist weekend, which will happen on August 13 and 14 at Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre after a two-year gap due to Covid, is a showcase for all four disciplines.


It will be attended by the 10 finalists in each discipline to determine the top three shortlisted nominees, who will then be invited to attend an interview with the selectors that will determine that discipline’s Young Ambassador winner.


Finalists this year are:


Dressage: Bella Plumridge, Caitlin Griffiths, Emily Yeoman, Felicity Sutherland, Illena Neilson, Imogen Hewatt, Jessica Morrison, Kelissa O’Shannassy, Paris Fielder and Sophie Taylor.


Show horse: Ariele Stellar, Ayda Paterson, Charlie Wright, Charlotte Richardson, Ella Doherty, Grace Humphries, Shae Latimer, Sophie Belcher, Sophie Falckh and Stella Paterson.


Eventing: Briony Deeker Fradd, Bronte Bravo, Chloe Brooks, Darcy Vinecomb, Evie Kamevaar, Hannah Bird, Jasmyn Beesley, Sophie Carrol, Taleah Cameron and Tess Morrow.


Showjumping: Alexandra Laker, Arienne Holdsworth-Rose, Ashlee Magusson, Caleb Bertram, Cohen Wade, Danni Blismas, Isabella Lloyd, Mikaela Hogg, Miranda Darby and Molly Lawrence.


The awards dinners will be held later this year, along with the rest of the state equestrian awards.