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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Dressage stars danced in the rain at championships

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

ABOVE: Betty Kopetzky on San Sebastien won the Elementary 3C class for ponies. Picture: ANGIE RICKARD

THE young riders showed the way at the Australian Dressage Championships at Boneo Park last week.

Jessica Dertell, 18, rode Cennin to victory in all three competitions to win the Australian Big Tour Championship.

Jessica and the 15-year-old stallion won the Grand Prix on 70.370 per cent, Grand Prix Special on 69.575 per cent and the Freestyle on 73.765 per cent.

She was too young to compete on the horse at adult Grand Prix level when he arrived in Australia early this year because rules say a rider needs to be 18 to do so, but since Jessica turned 18 in July they won at the Brisbane Dressage CDI before competing at the Australian Championships.

ABOVE: Jessica Dertell and the stallion Cennin. Picture: DEREK O’LEARY

The young rider was busy at the event with rides on each day. She rode Cennin in the Grand Prix with 70.379 per cent, Eskara De Jeu in the CDI U25 Inter II with 69.559 per cent, Gladstone MH in the CDI Y Teams Test with 71.274 per cent, Kilimanjaro in the CDI J Team Test with 73.030 per cent and the lovely buckskin pony mare, Gleniph Tiramisu, in the FEI Inter I pony with 69.363 per cent.

Jessica was not the only youngster making their presence felt, with many performing really well with good placings in strong championship level competition.

There was no one more delighted about this than the Victorian Young Rider Coaching coordinator Jan Smith.

“In the CDI Grand Prix 3* Tour, three young riders Jessica Dertell, 18 years of age, Lindsey Ware, 20 years of age and Charlotte Phillips, 21 years of age - her birthday was on Sunday – filled three out of the first four placings in the Grand Prix and the first three placings in both the Grand Prix Freestyle and the Grand Prix Special,” she said.

“This is not a coincidence, there are clear pathways that have developed the squads system, in particular through the Dressage Victoria Young Rider Squad system and the Senior Squad.

“Young Riders especially are catered for at all levels, from entry level to the Young Rider A Squad who work with Olympians Mary Hanna and Lone Joergensen at training weekends.”

It’s hard not to mention the hideous weather and constant downpours. The first days were held in very ordinary conditions, but the arenas were safe and if the mud and splash were things the dressage horses were not used to, they showed their good manners and danced in the rain.

The pony classes continue to grow in quality and many adults are realising you don’t need a 16 hand giant to do good dressage. Justin Worthy’s Tamlyn Farm Calamity Jane, the Novice Pony championship winner, Augusta Muir’s Mystic Shadows Cinderella, the Medium Level Pony champion, and Nicole Donald’s Mithril Samwise, the Advanced Pony Champion, are all worthy of their titles.

Chris Milvain, breeder of Samwise, was one of the earliest to see the potential of dressage ponies and her Mithril prefix shows up in the winner line-ups of almost all pony dressage events.

ABOVE: Para winners were Claire Skerman, Kylie Christian, Maddison Cooke, Stella Barton and Melanie Diplock. Picture: ONE-EYED FROG PHOTOGRAPHY

Para rider classes are fairly light on at present at championship level but the scores in this section continue to improve.

The winners included, Stella Barton in grade one, Maddison Cooke in grade two, Ella Newbery in grade three, Claire Graham and Kylie Christian in grade four and Melanie Diplock in grade five. At the end of the event, Jan said that in her capacity as FEI chief steward she was impressed with what she saw at the championships.

“Not only did I witness great performances from an outstanding group of young riders, but also their sporting behaviour to their fellow riders, officials and the organising committee,” she said.

“I also congratulate event director Jade Woodhead and her wonderful team on running a great championships under trying conditions early in the show.”

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