The chase is on for New Zealand’s top dressage riders to gain FEI Olympic rider ranking points with the Paris Olympic Games in their sights.

World Champs representative Melissa Galloway with Windermere J’Obei W and former World Cup final rep Wendi Williamson on Don Vito MH are at the Sydney CDI: Australia’s Premier Dressage Event, with the horse inspection this afternoon (Wednesday). Both will compete in the FEI Grand Prix CDI3* tomorrow, followed by the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* on Friday and the Freestyle on Saturday evening subject to qualifying in the Special.

Also at the event is Madison Schollum (newly named on the HP Talent Development Squad) aboard Kinnordy Golda who will compete in the FEI Prix St Georges CDI1* and Intermediate CDI1*, with an eye to qualifying for the Freestyle on Saturday.

Melissa, who just last month broke two New Zealand records on her way to being crowned national champion, is excited to be at the event for the first time. “Sydney CDI is a competition I have always wanted to compete at so it is very exciting to be over here doing it with Joey (Windermere J’Obei W),” she said. “He’s travelled really well and is happy, but it is a big trip for him given it took us three days to get here.”

NZL-Melissa Galloway rides Windermere J’Obei W during the HAVENS Horsefeed-Prize –
CDI4* FEI Grand Prix. 2022 CHIO Aachen – Weltfest des Pferdesports. Wednesday 29 June 2022. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

In late March, the Marlborough combination won the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music with a score of 77.035%, the Grand Prix on 73.457%, and the Grand Prix Special on 72.872% at the Taupo CDI3*
The New Zealand warmblood gelding was bred by Rania Todd and David Woolley and has been with Melissa his entire career.

Right on Melissa and Joey’s tail throughout Nationals was Wendi aboard Don Vito MH, who were second in each of the classes, scoring 74.13% in the freestyle, 71.043% in the special and 70.370% in the Grand Prix. “We decided to come over to see how Don Vito MH would travel and handle the atmosphere at a different venue,” said Kumeu based Wendi. “We love competing here so it is a known quantity in terms of the venue and organisers.”

She’s certainly ridden the ups and downs of the world of horses and says she has crossed the Tasman with no expectations. “I will just ride what I have on the day.”

NZL-Wendi Williamson rides Don Vito MH. Final-2nd. Brett Kendall & Rosemary Carter -Test FEI Grand Prix Special 2022 CDI 3*. 2023 NZL-Bates NZ Dressage Championships. NEC Taupo. Friday 24 March. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

Don Vito MH was bred by Matthews Hanoverians and only started its international career this year but has quickly shown it is one to watch with not a score under 70% in six CDI3* starts, and last year won the national crown.
Wendi is no stranger to chasing Olympic qualifiers. It was her, aboard Don Amour, who qualified New Zealand for the Tokyo Olympic Games after an extensive Australian campaign but didn’t make the trip after failing to meet the very strict NZOC criteria.

Key to New Zealand qualifying for the Paris Olympic Games are the FEI Olympic Group G rankings. There are two individual places available for Group G combinations, but each country can only have a single rider represent it. The Kiwis are sitting solid after two events, with Melissa in sixth, Wendi in seventh and Gaylene Lennard in eighth.

Performances at CDSI3* and above count with the best score from each of four events to count – the Grand Prix, Special and Freestyle are all eligible but the latter points are allocated slightly lower.

Don Vito MH – owned by Jon and Wendi Williamson
Windermere J’Obei W – owned by Anne and Rodney Parkes and Melissa Galloway
Kinnordy Golda – owned by Madison and Lynley Schollum

WHAT: Sydney CDI: Australia’s Premier Dressage Event
WHEN: April 25-29, 2023
WHERE: Sydney International Equestrian Centre, Horsley Park, Australia


By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ