New Zealand’s Julie Brougham and Abbie Deken are today (Saturday) heading to the 2017 Australian Dressage Championships as they chase qualifying scores for next year’s FEI World Equestrian Games.

Rio Olympian Brougham and Vom Feinsten have done well at the championships before but they are coming back into work after an injury. “It is a bit of a start again for us,” says Brougham, who placed second this week in the Grand Prix at Equidays.

The class was won by John Thompson aboard JHT Antonello on 71.9%, with Brougham second on 68.7%, Wendi Williamson (Kumeu) and Dejavu MH third on 68.567%, William Millar (Waikato) on Raukura Satori MH fourth on 67.1%, Abbie Deken (Oakura) fifth on KH Ambrose on 66.3% and Vanessa Way (Taranaki) and NRM Arawn sixth on 65.83%.

Before that outing, Brougham and Vom Feinsten hadn’t really competed for a year. “Steiny has had six months rehab after a strained suspensory in January when we were trying to get organised for nationals.”

She’s looking forward to Australia where the championships are being held on one of her favoured surfaces. “These good surfaces are so key to the future for all of us,” she says. “Boneo Park is known for its good surfaces.” In the build-up to Rio, Brougham campaigned her 14-year-old horse in Germany and the UK.

Deken is heading across the Tasman with KH Ambrose. While it is the first time for the 15-year-old horse, Deken has been a number of times, including as part of the derby team aboard borrowed horses. “It (competing in the derby) was a bit of a disaster,” she says. “I am not sure what happened but I collapsed mid test. We still aren’t sure whether I had a viral thing going on or was dehydrated.”

The current Dressage Horse of the Year title-holder has come a long way since then. “This is something I have wanted to do for a couple of years now, and it seems a good time to go. I have been over and helped Vanessa (Way) a few times, so know the drill.”

The roles are reversed this time – Way, her long time trainer and dear friend, will be there to help her. “After HOY and going into WEG year, it is good timing. It would have been nice to have had a few more grand prix starts beforehand, but we are just coming out of winter.”

The Kiwis fly out today (Saturday) in preparation for the champs, which run October 18-22 at the Boneo Park Equestrian Centre.

Dressage New Zealand sport manager Wendy Hamerton says it is great to have them at the championships. “It is early in the season, but both have WEG in their sights. The Australians are also starting their WEG campaign and are trying to up their game too. Riders there have been qualifying events to be selected for WEG and the Australian championships is one of them . . . everyone will be chasing it.”

Hamerton said New Zealand as a nation had made good progress over the last couple of years in its dressage. “The two countries are as close in standard of the top few as they have ever been. I think both New Zealand and Australia officials have agreed it would be interesting to see what would happen if we had a test event.”

But everyone knows just how tough it is to compete in Australia. “They are always very good and there are a lot of experienced riders with plenty of international exposure. It is always good to go and compete amongst them as it helps us benchmark what those riders have been doing in Europe.”

And it is a star-studded field at the championships. Included in the CDI-W 25 entrants are Olympic silver medallist Spencer Wilton (GBR) aboard Umbro, Brett Parbery aboard the ever-consistent DP Weltmieser as well as his newcomer PPH Zeppelin, Heath and Rozzie Ryan have three horses between them and plenty of others who have notched both impressive scores and results.

New Zealand John Thompson is also at Boneo Park as part of the Aussies Abroad Challenge where he teams up with Maree Tomkinson to ride a Prix St Georges test on a catch ride. He is also on a short list of riders to be part of the Spencer Wilton masterclass.

WHAT: Martin Collins 2017 Australian Dressage Championships

WHERE: Boneo Park Equestrian Centre, Victoria

WHEN: October 18-20, 2017

For more information, head to


By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison