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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

New Zealanders dominate at CDI dressage championships


ABOVE: Elliot Patterson and Selected, the four-year-old champion. Picture: FRANZ VENHAUS

NEW Zealanders Melissa Galloway, riding her 2022 FEI World Championship horse Windermere J’Obei W, and Wendi Williamson on Don Vito MH dominated the top placings at the Sydney CDI dressage championships.


Melissa, a top-class competitor at just 30, won all three elite level tests, finishing with a score of 76.330 per cent in the Freestyle.


Wendi was second in each test not far behind and Alinta Veenvleit, Sue Hearn and Charlotte Phillips all earned a third placing.


ABOVE: Melissa Galloway and Windermere J’Obei, winners of the CDI three-star Grand Prix Freestyle. Picture: FRANZ VENHAUS

Dual Olympian Lyndal Oatley’s Elvive is showing great form in Germany but she was back home in Sydney to watch David McKinnon riding Carol Oatley’s Forlan to win the FEI Grand Prix (CDN) with 70.79 per cent.


What was especially interesting in this class was that Alison Gill’s spectacular bay pony, Hilken’s Denali, placed a solid second with 67.355 per cent, proving good things come in small parcels.


We have some super talented and very ambitious young riders coming through and their scores are impressive.


Rosemary Heagney, Kimberley Webb and Brooke Ellis, top three in the Junior Team Competition (CDIJ) and Kodi Tupper, Jessica Dertell and Bridgette Dalmal in the Young Riders Team Competition (CDIY) are all names that will be well known in dressage circles for years to come. They have the talent, plus the training, support and horses their predecessors could only dream of.


The same can be said of the young horse classes. Elliot Patterson riding Selected (87.2 per cent) was the four-year-old champion and grand champion young horse.


Riley Alexander and Glenhill Vivid (74.6 per cent) was the five-year-old champion, Caitlin Scott and Furstenglanz (76.8 per cent) was the six-year-old champion, Johannes Holtzhausen and Franzisco RW (75.4 per cent) was the seven-years-old champion and the Young Pony Champion was Alison Gill’s Glenhill Mr. Hollywood (71 per cent).


While the Para Riders used to be tucked away in the background at big competitions worldwide, it’s no longer the case.


They take centre stage with the other elite competitors and if the right horses can be found we absolutely have the riders to bring medals home.

ABOVE: Brett Parbery and Iresais, winners of the PSG one-star. Picture: FRANZ VENHAUS

The Sydney CDI was the second chance for our Paras to earn the qualifying scores needed for Olympic selection.


In the Grade IV section Helen Batson and Sharon Jarvis both scored personal bests in the FEI Para Grand Prix Test A.


There were more personal bests in the Grand Prix Test B, with Helen winning with 67.928 per cent ahead of Kylie Christian on 67.297 per cent, Sharon Jarvis on 66.441 per cent and Claire Graham on 65.18 per cent.


In Grade V, Mietta Innes-Irons and Schonherz scored two wins, and there were double wins to Maddison Cooke and Byalee Magic II in Grade II and to Ella Newbury on Avon Magic in Grade III.


Olympic qualification is also firmly on the radar in open competition, and it seems nearly all of the possible team members are already overseas.


Lyndal Oatley is highest placed on the FEI list with Eros at 59, but also has Elvive at 66, and Simone Pearce is between the two with Fiderdance at 63.


Next on the list is Mary Hanna with Syriana (who has been sold to Jessica Dertell) at position 113, followed by Jayden Brown and Willunga Park Sky Diamond at 122.

The Olympic team seems to be within that group but after seeing some of the excellent young horses and young ambitious riders at the Sydney CDI, the teams for the 2026 World Equestrian Games at Fort Worth makes for interesting discussion.


ABOVE: Mietta Innes-Irons and Schonherz.
ABOVE: Tanisha Ryan and Prequel, winners of the CDIU25 Grand Prix. Picture: FRANZ VENHAUS

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