A blazing success for day one of the Dressage NZ Equestrian Entries Youth Dressage Festival

Sunshine and smiles were the order of the day at the Dressage NZ Equestrian Entries Youth Dressage Festival – from tiny tots in the lead rein classes through to composed U25 riders showcasing the most advanced moves in the Grand Prix class.

At the top end of the field, the current crop of young riders did themselves proud, providing the audience with confidently ridden tests in the FEI Grand Prix and Advanced level musical freestyles.

Rocking the impressive indoor arena at NEC, Taupo; choice of music varied from The Beatles through to Star Wars and Grease movie soundtracks – but without exception the competitors presented themselves and their horses beautifully for some exciting competition.

Lucarne Dolley riding Ardmore took the win in the FEI Grand Prix musical freestyle with 69.33%, followed by Amy Sage (RM All About Me) on 66.88%, then Rebecca Williamson (Don Amour MH) on 64.60% and Caitlin Benzie (Stoneylea Lancelot) on 63.60%. Not everything went to plan (as is often the case at this level, even for riders with decades more experience), but the level of professionalism of these young riders was notable.

It was a smoother ride for Rebecca Williamson in the U25 Tour Championship winning on 72.81% aboard Don Tobio, followed by Nicole Sweney (Flute Noir) on 68.75% and Bella Small (Lord Louis) just a smidge behind on 68.37%.

Brina Carpenter was the sole representative in the FEI Intermediate Freestyle scoring 67.95%.

It was a tightly fought class of two in the Advanced 6B with Madison Schollum (Kinnordy Golda) on 67.02% just edging out Morgan Beere (Redwood Furst Affair) on 66.21% for the win, while Stephanie Baker (Popstar MH) took the win in the Advanced 6A with 69.40%.

Convincingly leading the Advanced Medium competition after day one is 17-year-old Lucy Cochrane on her distinctive Gymanji, winning both classes.

Belinda Greenfield (L’homme du jour) had a good day at the office taking a win and second in the Medium classes, with Tannah Johnson (Minobie) just ahead in the 4A and Caitlin Benzie (GC Lucius) chasing closely in the 4B.

Caitlin Benzie (Archie) stamped her mark on the Level 3 classes, leading both tests for the day, with Emma Dickons (Belmont Bedsox) and Samantha Belsham (Delta Duet) hot on her heels, promising close competition in tomorrow’s deciders.

Samantha Belsham proved her consistency again at Level 2, this time with Dolcetto II, convincingly winning the 2B on 71.47%, ahead of Hannah Lewis (Rata Mill Dali) and Iris Hut (Vollrath Lilac). In a strong class, the Level 2 musical freestyle saw Amy Sage (HPH Furst Welcome) top the leaderboard with 73.87%, ahead of Samantha Belsham, Iris Hut and Kate Potter (Decoy Dee).

Level 1 was a tussle between Alexandra Hope (Wonda Why) and Stephanie Baker (Papanui Just Downtown) with a win and a second apiece, and Nicole Sweney (World Cup MSH) keeping the pressure on to take third in both classes.

Pony Classes

Morgan Abel-Pattinson (Pioneer North East) heads up the Pony Level 4 classes, winning both tests of the day, followed by Samantha Wells (Gangnam Style) in second spot in both, and Mikayla Wildermoth (Thumbellina II) thirds in the FEI Pony Team class.

12-year-old Grace Purdie (Firebird Five) pulled off a cracker musical freestyle at Level 3 to win on 70.76%, ahead of Emily Shepherd (Rakaunui Grace N), Claudia Younger (Sandhill Trussardi) and Piper Crake (Glenvar Bramble). The tables were turned in the 3B test, with Piper taking the win this time, and Frankie Lawn (Pied Piper Trick or Treat) in second.

It was another Lawn sister setting the pace in the Novice Pony classes, with Zoe Lawn (Rifesyde Firefly) winning the 2B in front of Maiah Kitcheman (Calliste Knight) and Emily Archer (Linden Fun and Games). The sisters had to battle it out though in the Novice musical freestyle, with Zoe Lawn just pipping sister Frankie Lawn, and Maiah Kitcheman again hot on their heels for third spot.

Just a fraction of a percent separated the first and second placegetters in the Gateshead Equestrian Pony 1B, going to Riley Chase (Asti) on 68.75% ahead of Morgan Abel-Pattinson (Lancewood Coppers Delight) on 68.12%, then Zara Cowen (67.5) and Katy Payne (67.41%). Riley Chase took the win again in the 1A, this time with Mindy Malone (Lugar) placing second.

Auckland-based Natalie James (Zee Bee) was the sole entrant in the ParaEquestrian Class, scoring 65.25%

Non Graded Classes

It was equal placings all the way in the Non Graded Junior Classes, with the same riders placing 1-4 in both classes: headed up by Beth Condon (Kozee), Lachlan Murray (Inova You Wish), Ella Cooper-Levin (Logan PSH) and Taya Le Normand (TRS Sharpshooter).

A strong turnout in the AR Dressage Non Grader 12yr and under saw Charlee Halewood (Ty Gwyn Riviera) win OB, and Alexandra Kenny-Schlup (AD Dennache) place second and.

And prize for the cutest of the day went to the Lead Rein competitors – Briar Herries (Valrosa Indian Summer) winning both of her tests, with Harriet Hogan (Montello Aria) second in Test 2.

Equitation Classes

Wrapping up the day was the Fiber Fresh Equitation Classes, designed to assess the riders more than the horse. The Junior classes saw impressive winning scores, with Piper Crake (Glenvar Bramble) on 94.26% and Kate Potter (Decoy Dee) on 90%; while the Fledgling Class was won by Zoe Lawn (Rifesyde Firefly) on 79.28% and Olivia Younger (Gundagai Zoringa) on 70.71%.

With such fierce competition across all levels, the leaderboards are tightly stacked and championship results ride on the success of tomorrow’s classes.

It is exciting to see such strong representation and enthusiasm across the grades, and the event offers a unique opportunity for riders of all ages to experience the atmosphere of a national competition, and mingle with their peers, coaches, sponsors and supporters.

Full results are available at equestrianentries.co.nz

All photos copyright Libby Law Photography

NZL-Eva Van Den Brink rides Royal Dream. Class 202: Whakatane Dental Young Rider/U25 – Novice Musical Freestyle 

NZL-Piper Crake rides Glenvar Bramble. Class 312: Ribbons Plus Pony – Elementary Musical Freestyle 

NZL-Emma Dickons rides Belmont Bedsox. Final-2nd. Class 302: Young Rider/U25 – Elementary Musical Freestyle 

NZL-Lucarne Dolley rides Ardmore. Final-1st. Class 901: Young Rider/U25 – FEI Grand Prix Musical Freestyle 

NZL-Charles Halewood rides Arrandale Royal Salute. Final-4th. Class 911: AR Dressage Non Graded 12yr & under –