NZL-Melissa Galloway rides Windermere J’Obei W. Final-1st. Class 902: 4CYTE – FEI CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle (2022) – Pacific League World Cup Final.  PHOTO: Libby Law Photography.

When Marlborough rider Melissa Galloway won the FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle competition at the ORO Dressage by the Lake in Takapoto, she earned the Pacific League place for Australian and New Zealand riders in an elite 18-strong field mainly from Europe and America who will travel to the FEI Dressage World Cup Final in Riyadh, on 16-20 April 2024. 

Galloway and her horse Windermere J’Obei W almost broke the 80% mark taking the 4CYTE – FEI CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle Pacific League World Cup Final with 79.24%, with Wendi Williamson and Don Vito MH in second place with 73.63%.  Galloway broke the NZL Grand Prix record in the previous day’s qualifier, when she scored a personal best on 74.218%.  She also competed a second horse, Windermere Integro, in the national Grand Prix classes for two wins – this exciting young horse also looks to have a very bright international future and is predicted to see the Marlborough rider continue her international success.

For both riders, ORO was the last chance to earn critical points that may secure New Zealand a start at the Paris Olympics in Individual Dressage.  Galloway currently leads the Group G (Asia Pacific) World Rankings, however NZL must finish ranking either first or second as at 31st December 2023.   New Zealand has already secured a Teams Eventing start, with the athletes and their horses being announced next June.

NZL-Wendi Williamson rides Don Vito MH. Class 901: 4CYTE – FEI CDI-W Grand Prix. PHOTO: Libby Law Photography

A total of over 600 individual dressage tests ridden by 184 combinations over three very full days and was one of the best spectacles of dressage ever seen in New Zealand. It was the first time a New Zealand Dressage event has been livestreamed, reaching over 40 million households through leading equestrian sports and lifestyle network, Horse and Country TV.  The event was also covered by TVNZ’s 1News.

In addition to the all-important Grand prix classes, up and coming combinations of all levels including pony and young riders and Para-Equestrians had the unique opportunity to experience a world class competition environment.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand Dressage Manager Wendy Hamerton says, “We can be very proud of the standard of competition shown by all levels of riders who competed at the show.  Dressage is not such a well-known equestrian discipline in New Zealand where Eventing has held a global profile for over two decades, but our current position on the world rankings and the recognition that accompanies that is ever increasing. That is due to the commitment from all sectors of our equestrian community as each has a pivotal role that supports the sport.

“Debra Cowen and her team of organisers, the huge input from officials and volunteers are all essential to holding a show of this calibre.  We can’t do this in isolation; it’s got to be a Dressage community-driven project.  That extends to entities such as the Waipa District Council which has clearly recognised the importance of events such as Takapoto being held in their region,” she says.

“We also give our great thanks to the Takapoto Estate and ORO Equestrian for their wonderful support, and to all the other sponsors who have made this wonderful event possible. We would especially like to thank the international judges who travelled from Australia and America to make it possible for the Grand Prix riders to earn their qualifications for the two major international events in 2024,” says Hamerton.