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Plan your Sydney CDI – three days of ‘Horsy Heaven’

Monday, 23 April 2012


 

By Scott Pollock

Whether you have the time to visit the Sydney CDI for one day or three days there will be plenty to keep you entertained. This event is for all those who love the beauty of the horse. Whether you ride for pleasure or any of the many disciplines, there will be something for you at Australia’s biggest international dressage event. The event runs from the 3 May to the 5 May. This competition attracts the best riders from across Australia, all vying for a personal best or a place on the dais. It also includes riders from Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Germany.

 
The Sydney International Equestrian Centre was built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and offers all spectators a great environment to enjoy what is on offer. There are numerous options for food and beverages. If you’re looking for fine food, coffee, wine and hospitality, the Top Spot Marquee will be the place for you. This is a great spot to enjoy great coffee and refreshments, lunch with Wild Oats wine while watching the competitions taking place in the indoor arena. Bookings for the marquee are essential. But if the shade of a tree with a program in hand is what you are after then that is also available as the Sydney International Equestrian Centre is intertwined with parklands which means there are numerous spots to lay the picnic blanket down. Saturday is popular as the evening program includes The Hamilton Island Grand Prix Freestyle. This is when you get to experience horse and riders dancing to music. The evening dinner in the Top Spot Marquee already has a waiting list but there are still tickets available in the Grand Stand. There is also an exciting Aerial display by “Liquid Rizen” along with a farewell ceremony for all our visitors - Morgan cars and the City of Holroyd Band.
 
Although the energy of Saturday is very exciting, there’s something nice about enjoying the competition on the quieter days. I usually arrive on day one, grab a coffee and program, find a quiet spot and highlight the horse and rider combinations I don’t want to miss. Once I have that done, there’s plenty of time to wander around and soak up the atmosphere. The competitions are great to watch but it’s also interesting to watch the horses being warmed up prior to their big moment. I remember a few years ago I was sitting on a grassy slope and in the distance I saw this magnificent horse being warmed up on one of the outer arenas. Boy could this horse move! Within a few minutes I had made way over to this arena and plonked myself down in the sun and watched in amazement - Bliss! After a couple of questions, I discovered the horses name was Waiiri and the rider, Emmanuelle Josz. From that day on I became a fan of this incredible mare and rider. It’s these sorts of experiences that make the quiet days memorable.
 
There’s also a Trade Village which is known for its bargains. There’s a wide range of products from arena equipment, the best in riding apparel, saddlery, tack, horse feeds, health products, giftware, horse transport and a lot more. It’s in the centre of the trade village where they have presentations for the place getters of all the competitions. It’s a great place to hang.
 
If you haven’t already secured a ticket, there’s still plenty of time. This competition will give you a chance to see Australia’s elite dressage riders and their beautiful four legged friends – the horse! For all information visit www.sydneycdi.com

New Kid On The Block

 
I always laugh when I hear the term, ‘New kid on the block’, because if the truth be known the ‘kid’ has been around for years, working hard to make things happen and when they start to get the results we all act as though they started riding only a couple of years ago.
 
Australian rider Sheridyn Ashwood certainly falls into this category. Her first ride was as a two year old on a Shetland pony at a Christmas party. Thirty years later she is making people sit tall in their seat to see her and her Big Tour stallion Prestige VDL give some of Australia’s top Grand Prix horses a run for their money. It was only in February this year at the Orange Dressage with Altitude CDI that this combination came 2nd in the GP Freestyle and GP Special with scores around the 68% mark. This is quite extraordinary as Sheridyn has only competed in 6 GPs, 2 GP Freestyles and 2 GP Specials. In just a couple of weeks they will be proving they are not just a ‘flash in the pan’ by competing at Australia’s premier International Dressage event – the Sydney CDI.
 
Prestige VDL (also known as MR P) was bred by VDL stud and initially trained by Edward Gal. He is a beautiful bay stallion 16.3 hh with four white socks and blaze, with the most amazing paces and temperament to match. He is by the Olympic Stallion Silvano N.
Sheridyn’s bubbly personality bubbles over. “My parents are very supportive. They do whatever they can to help me achieve my best. And in the spirit of keeping me busy and focused they’ve helped me purchase (and import) this great horse. He truly is the most wonderful horse I have ever had the joy of working with.” Over the years, Sheridyn has had strong connections with some of Australia’s best trainers and riders. I was interested to know who was the most influential. “I would have to say that when I lived in Sydney that Judy Dierks was the most influential trainer for me but since moving to Queensland, Ben Conn has been the one who really understands me as a rider and pushes me. He expects "Perfection" and being a bit that way inclined myself we get along great from a trainer /rider relationship.”
 
Sheridyn is no different to many elite riders in regards to her background with horses. It’s varied. She has competed in eventing and show jumping. Has taught beginners, trained numerous dressage horses and broken in horses for a pre-training centre. It was at this thoroughbred facility she worked with a man who became the biggest influence of her life (not including her mum or dad of course). His name is John Bourke.
 
John is that rare breed of a ‘True Horseman’. There are many fabulous riders, trainers, teachers or even competitors but a true Horseman is far and few between. They are the people who have that amazing gift of getting into the horses mind, assessing and addressing their issues and within a short period of time they manage to get the horse to do what no other has managed to achieve. Sheridyn told many amazing stories of her time with John. “I was a girl in a man’s world. All the guys bagged me out for being a princess. They couldn’t understand why or how I could help them break in all these youngsters. It took a while but I proved them all wrong and earned their respect. I had to work harder than all of them and be as brave as I could. John was the most amazing man I have ever had the privilege of working with. We had completely wild horses that we had to herd on trucks like cattle and try to do something with them. To catch them they were lassoed from horseback as it was too dangerous to be on foot. John could fix "ANY" problem with a horse by getting into its mind. If a colt needed gelding or if a leg was damaged and needed to be stitched it was all done by "The Boys." It was a real eye opener, sometimes offensive, but that’s how it was done out there so I respected that.
 
All John's horses NEVER bucked regardless of how long they had off and they were tough and hardy. I learnt so much from John. It was such an invaluable experience. I still use what I learnt then on all my dressage horses. He was like a dad to me, always making sure I was alright. I was lucky to have that time. It was great!”
 
Although Sheridyn has moved on, it’s great to see that she hasn’t forgotten her roots and still treasures those wonderful lessons from a good old Australian Horseman. I’m sure those special skills of communication have helped her with her dressage career.
Sheridyn will be competing at the Sydney CDI which commences on the 3 May through to the 5 May. Tickets are still available. For all information and results visit www.sydneycdi.com

Sydney CDI - Just one wish

The Young Horse competitions are always great to watch, especially at a CDI. It gives the riders and owners a chance to see how their horse rates in regards to movement, rideability and confirmation. They also give the spectator the opportunity to see what level of training a young horse is capable of and at the same time it gives you a sneak preview of the possible champions of the future. I remember clearly when the stallion Northern Simba consecutively won all three Young Horse classes at the Sydney CDI in 2004, 2005 and 2006. I became a fan from the beginning and followed him through the ranks. He is now being ridden by Hayley Beresford and competing Grand Prix internationally.

After watching the results of a number of recent Young Horse competitions, I’m looking forward to seeing the beautiful mare by Heath and Rozzie Ryan’s athletic stallion, Jive Magic and out of a Coriander/Rocadero mare. This special mare, Just One Wish (aka Jag), is ridden by Denise Rogan who would have to be one of the most respected and friendliest competitors in the Australian Dressage scene. The mare was bred by Denise’s mum, Robyn, so you could say she’s part of the family.

 
From day one, Jag has not been the easiest of mare, Denise explains. “Jag was born at my parents’ property on a super-hot summer’s day. Because Mum was at home when Jag was born, she managed to get a photo just minutes after she got up. The photos of the little filly looking around from behind the broodmare was one of shock - Oh My God! Who are you? What are you? And please put me back inside!” This photo sums Jag up perfectly – she’s not too sure about the human race. It took quite a bit of time to convince her that humans were going to be involved in her life”.
 
A few years later not a lot had changed. “Jag spent a good six months with my groom, Luke Craddick, doing a lot of in hand work together. I remember telling Luke when she arrived at the stables that this one is a bit precious and I had no idea how in the heck I was ever going to be able to ride her unless he works his magic and gets to know her inside out. Well Luke worked his magic and had me on the lunge on Jag around November 2011. By January 2012 we competed at Boneo Park CDI - winning the 4yo championship. Since then, there has only been Boneo Park Autumn Championships, Bradgate Park CDI and Dressage With The Stars for her to compete at. Next is the Sydney CDI!”
 
This young mare seems to have everyone rapped around her little finger (hoof). Luke is called her husband because they admire each other so much. Denise’s mum and partner spoil her rotten with treats and Joe who cleans her stable is only allowed in because he gives her scratches. Denise tells me, “Jags bond with this team of people is incredibly close and anyone outside the team is most definitely trespassing! She’s quite amazing!”
 
Denise rides and trains Jag with one level in mind and that’s Grand Prix. “Do I think she is capable of Grand Prix – who knows until I get there! I certainly do understand that horses have different capabilities and limits but you discover that during the journey. Right now she is only 4 years old and I am trying to create a mould for Grand Prix in the future – there are so many factors as to whether we will make it to be a competitive Grand Prix horse. Until I think or am otherwise told, Jag is a future Grand Prix mare”.
 
As far as Denise is concerned, the Young Horse competitions can be treated as a stepping stone to Grand Prix. “It is a chance to get a young horse like Jag (who is slightly fragile) out and about in an environment that is more forgiving. We come out saying to each other, fancy that, only two months ago we were on the lunge, now we have walked, trotted and cantered our way around that arena with all of those scary pot plants and spectators and not only have we survived but I stayed on as well! All jokes aside, that is how Jag got her show name. I was out at my coach’s place having a lesson on another horse, when he asked how ‘the black mare’ was going since arriving at the stables… my answer was “I just have one wish - to stay on!” Hence her show name was born – Just One Wish.”
 
So what is it that judges are looking for in the Young Horse classes? “Sure there’s always a lot of discussion over what the judges are actually wanting in a young horse class - up, down, round, out, long, short, slow or fast. But from where I see it, the judges want to see the best possible paces in walk, trot and canter – simple as that. And when I think of Grand Prix, the horses with the best possible paces will get the best scores for each movement – keep it that simple and you will always appreciate young horse classes as a measurement for how you are travelling for Grand Prix – whether you do well or not well.”
 
Like so many Australian up and coming Big Tour riders, Denise is also trained by Roger Fitzhardinge “I’m lucky enough to have Roger as my coach. He constantly challenges me as a rider, I’m also lucky enough to have the support from my partner to have started my own corporate training company “The REMI Group” so that I can afford the sport.” Like all of us, Denise is grateful for her Mum and Dad and all those around her. “My team are my eyes, my profession is something that I work hard at to get ahead in life and my horses are my passion. At the end of the day what I do know from having taken a young horse through to Grand Prix, is that it takes a complete team to get there, lots of perseverance, patience and what I call ‘bounce back’ and a large sprinkling of luck.”
 
This exciting combination is only one of the top class competitors in the Young Horse competitions. There is many more to see. The Sydney CDI commences on the 3 May. All information can be found at www.sydneycdi.com

The Sydney CDI Young Guns Part II

After deciding to do a couple of stories on the Young Guns of Australian dressage, I then had to decide who was to be included. Number one, they had to be competing at the Sydney CDI and secondly they had to have a proven track record. The guys were pretty straight forward but for the girls it wasn’t that easy. There are quite a number of young female riders who fit the bill. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to go with Megan Bryant and Alexis Hellyer as they are two riders out of the five that have qualified to compete in the Under 25 Grand Prix (along with Jodie Newall, Stephanie Spencer and Victoria Welch). Last but not least I decided to include Robbie Soster (image below) as she has been selected for the 2012 National Futures Squad which is part of the National High Performance Dressage Program.

Robbie has been going to the Sydney CDI for many years. Initially it was as a spectator and then as years passed Robbie ended up in the arena instead of the stands. In her short 22 years she has achieved a lot. She has been on the NSW State Dressage Squad four times, been the NSW State Young Rider twice, on the National Youth Development Squad three times and now the National Futures Squad. Robbie’s highlight to date is winning the Inter 1 and the Inter 1 freestyle at the 2012 Bradgate Park CDI*** on her Small Tour horse Robali Razzamatazz. “It was really exciting! Some of the horses we beat, I’ve admired for years. It was great fun!” The on the other hand her most embarrassing time was cantering in a Prep Test – oh well, you have to take the good with the bad.
 
Like most elite riders, Robbie has a good team around her. For ten years, she has been training with one of Australia’s most respected trainers, Miguel Tavora. Her other eyes on the ground are Grand Prix rider Sue Hearne, Robbie’s boyfriend David McKinnon who is also a Young Gun. Then, of course, there’s her mother, Ali. “Mum’s great. She has a good eye for a horse and has always put me on horses that are talented.”
 
At this years CDI, Robbie will be competing in the Prix St Georges and Intermediate I on her very impressive Robali Razzamatazz. I have a feeling it won’t be long before this combination makes the move to Big Tour. “I am taking my time with him and I am sure we will get there. I hope all my horses might have the potential to get to GP, but lets face it, you never know their potential and you never know what might happen in the mean time. It’s a long journey.”
 
Our second and youngest Young Gun is 20 year old Megan Bryant (image below) who in 2010 represented Australia at the FEI Young Rider World Cup Final in Germany on her mare Donnabella. Megan is quite extraordinary as she is not only part of the 2012 National Elite Youth Squad for dressage but also for Eventing. “When I was younger I did more Eventing until my horse got injured and was left without a horse, so I started riding my Mum’s Novice dressage horse. He couldn’t really jump so I just did dressage with him and within a year we were competing Inter 1. Now I have a team of dressage horses which take up all of my time but I still enjoy the Eventing which is always a nice break from Dressage.”
 
Like all the Young Guns, Megan has aspirations to compete internationally at Big Tour. Megan is one of the lucky ones who owns most of the horses she competes on. “Horses are very expensive and usually to buy one I have to sell another, when I bought Donnabella I had to sell one of my very good eventers. I also breed a few horses. Who knows, maybe one of them might take me all the way. The most exciting foal we’ve breed so far would be Donnabella’s embryo transfer colt. He’s a stunner!” As Megan lives a few hours from Sydney, regular lessons are not easily accessible. So who keeps her on the right track? “I would like to say my Mum but she is very busy and doesn’t get to watch me at home much, but I try to get lessons from Roger Fitzhardinge every few weeks but it is hard when your coach lives over 4 hours away, so a lot of the time I have to be my own eyes on the ground and work things out for myself.” Roger Fitzhardinge is known for having a great eye for what the judges are looking for. On many occasions it is Roger who is at the side of the warm up arena calling last minute adjustments for some of Australia’s top performers.
 
At this year’s Sydney CDI, Megan will be competing on two horses - Northern Xanthus III in the Under 25 Intermediate II and the Grand Prix. She will also be competing on Donnabella in the Prix St Georges and CDI-Y. Last year at the CDI, Megan and Donnabella won the International Prix St Georges which was one of the highlights of her riding career. This young lady seems to be destined for the international stage but will it be in dressage or eventing?
 
The third Young Gun is Alexia Hellyer (image below). Alexis has had a very successful coulee of years with her Weltmeyer gelding, Waca W. She has placed and won numerous Small Tours and also a couple of the FEI World Cup Young Rider Final qualifiers. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I chatted with Alexis about competing in the under 25 Grand Prix. “I’ve had such a hard time because of all the rain. I haven’t yet had the chance to compete Waca in Grand Prix. We have to get a score of 60% to qualify. We’ll do our first Under 25 GP in a couple of days. We’ll see how go?” I kept my eye out for the results and was very pleased to discover Alexis scored a 64.953 for her first outing with Waca W. Well done!
 
As a result this CDI is very special to Alexis. “I’ve had Waca W since he was 4 years old, so
competing in the under 25 Intermediate II and under 25 Grand Prix is pretty cool. I’ve had two other horses compete at Grand Prix level but Waca is the first horse I have produced from a young horse with some awesome help along the way from Tor van den Berge, Christine Crawford and the list goes on... This is the first year the Sydney CDI has offered these classes. It’s going to be a great help to make the transition from Small Tour to Big Tour.”
 
The Sydney CDI runs from the 3rd to the 5th May at the Sydney International Equestrian centre. To see these ‘Young Guns’ in action you can get tickets and all information at www.sydneycdi.com
 
The Sydney CDI Young Guns
 
As in all sports it is always interesting to watch new champions being made. When I say champions, I don't mean the winner of a competition, what I am talking about is watching competitors that may be the ones to dominate the sport in years to come.
 
At this year's Sydney CDI, there are quite a number of 'Young Guns' who have been diligently working away under the eye of some of Australia's best riders and trainers (and some traveling overseas for tuition). As a result they have become extremely hard to beat. They have lots of ambition, lots of energy and the world is their oyster. Over the next ten years, some of these riders will become Australia's champions. It may also be one of these riders that will represent Australia at the 2020 Olympics or WEG. Time will tell.
 
I have decided to give a short overview of six of these 'Young Guns'. This article will highlight three of 'The Lads' and the next one will highlight three of “The Girls”.
 
Our first rider is 22 year old David McKinnon (image below). David is relatively new to the scene and in this short time has made his presence known. David was Novice and Elementary champion at New South Wales State Championships in 2011 and then he also secured Elementary Champion at the Bates Australian Championships in the same year.
 
The Sydney CDI will be a new experience for this young rider. “I’ve been going to the CDI for a few years as a spectator, and like everyone else have always admired the horses and riders, but this year I will get the chance to compete”. David is employed by Brett and Melinda Parbery and as Brett is in Europe contending for the London Olympics, David has been given the rides on Brett’s horses – QEB Good as Gold, owned by Brett and Caroline Lieutenant and DP Weltmeiser owned by Susan Duddy. “I’m so lucky that they have entrusted me to ride their horses. I have to say I’m pretty nervous as they are big shoes to fill”. Both horses will be competing in Small Tour.
 
Although new to the game, David obviously has some great people around him – past and present. So, how does he find competitive horses to ride? “I’m lucky enough to be involved with some very experienced people who have a great eye for talented horses, such as my girlfriend Robbie Soster (another Australian Young Gun) and her mum. I also have Brett who knows what to look for in a Grand Prix horse”. David has also been competing on Bradgate Park Jatzz who is owned and bred by John and Bev Healy. “They have a fantastic breeding program which makes finding top performance horses a bit easier. I have some great horses at the moment and they all have their strengths and weaknesses but I guess I’m lucky because the all have one thing in common, a great brain”.
 
Our second rider is, 20 year old, Elliot Patterson (image below). He has now competed at three Sydney CDI’s but this will be Elliot's first year competing in the Open CDI Small Tour. This young man is quite aware of the degree of difficulty. “Usually every competitor brings with them a plan of attack so it's tough and you have to work for your marks.”
 
Elliot’s career highlight is winning the CDI-Young Tour at last year’s Sydney CDI. “The other highlight would have to be working and riding with Wolfram and Brigitte Wittag in Germany for three months.” “My aspirations in the not too distant future will be to have a Grand Prix start with my FEI horse Leandro. Of course the goal is a WEG or Olympics. I also have a mare in training with Tor van den Berge (one of Australia’s top riders and trainers) that could just take me there. This mare is by Lord Sinclair out of the same mare line as Maree Tomkinson’s Diamantina. She has the breeding to do special things but for the moment my main focus is university with the goal of a veterinary science degree.”
 
Elliot’s girlfriend is another ‘Young Gun’, Alexis Hellyer. Although Elliot has been trained by Tor van den Berge for four years, he has Alexis at home to ensure he is on track.
 
Our third Young Gun is Queensland rider 23 year old Jayden Brown (image below). Jayden has a bit more experience than Elliot and David as he won the small final at the 2008 Young Rider World Cup finals in Frankfurt with his horse Widelo. His score of 70% wold have put him in fourth place in the A Final (but as we all know, that's the name of the game). This was the highlight of Jayden’s career. “Experiencing a real European prize giving was pretty amazing.” Jayden is working hard to ensure he has a team of good horses behind him. Horses that will hopefully keep him in the sport for a long time. “It can be really difficult to make sure you have some talented horses coming through to follow on from your top competition horse. In the past I have always sold my top horses when I believe that are just reaching their peak, it's always sad to see them go but the reality of running a business makes it impossible to keep every horse forever. I have been quite focused on making sure that over time I can build up a base of talented younger horses. I am also very fortunate to have the support of a great group of enthusiastic owners. They have 100% trust that I will make the right decisions in terms of the
training and management of their horses, so my job is a lot easier.”
 
At the Sydney CDI, Jayden will compete on his 8yo gelding, Furst Friedrich (Furst Piccolo x Angelo xx) in the small tour. He will also be competing on two horses owned by Beau and Linda Dowsett - San Andreas (Sandro Hit x Walt Disney) in the 5yo class and the imported gelding Waitano (by Wolkantanz) who is entered for the Advanced Tour. San Andreas is currently a member of the National Future Squad. All three horses, Jayden hopes to train to Grand Prix.
 
Stay tuned for more on the female Young Guns, Alexis Hellyer, Robbie Soster and Megan Bryant.
The Sydney CDI runs from the 3rd to the 5th May at the Sydney International Equestrian centre.
 
To see these ‘Young Guns’ in action you can get tickets and all information at www.sydneycdi.com
 
The Sydney CDI - A Rider’s Profile – Maree Tomkinson
 
In just 5 weeks the Sydney CDI flags will be flying at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre to signify the beginning of Australia’s biggest International dressage competition is about to commence. Riders from New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and across Australia will treat this great equestrian centre (built for the Sydney 2000 Olympics) as home for the duration of the event.
 
Dressage in Australia has experienced a significant improvement over the past few years. A number of Horse and Rider combinations in the Grand Prix have consistently broken the 65 % mark and are now scoring in the high sixties and occasionally achieving a score of 70 plus. There are also a number of experienced riders in the wings with the ability to challenge most competitive Big Tour combinations. Some have the calibre of horse to be the future stars of Australian dressage and be competitive on the international stage. One such rider is Maree Tomkinson and her mare Diamiantina.
 
Initially Maree was a very successful show rider and then due to her passion for training horses changed to dressage in 2002. In 2006 Maree represented Australia on her imported Rotspon stallion, Rodrigo III, at the World Young Horse Championships (Rodrigo is now competing at Big Tour level and has recently been gelded). Later in 2007, Maree represented Australia again, at the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Dressage Horses on her magnificent Diamond Hit mare, Diamantina who was purchased as a four year old by Maree and Lyn Sultana. Together they came second in the small final. They then secured sixth place at the World Young Horse Championships in Verden. They also were 5 yr old Champion Young Horse at the Sydney CDI in 2007.
 
For the past few years, Diamantina has been nearly unbeatable in Prix St Georges and Inter I. They recently were selected as part of the 2012 Australian Dressage National A-Squad. A number of dressage fans (me included) in Australia have been watching this dynamic duo for a number of years, wondering when they would do their first Grand Prix test. In January this year, they made the leap into big tour, scoring 68.579 for their first Inter II competition and 65.894 for their first Grand Prix, beating the likes of Heath Ryan on Regardez Moi. “I waited for her to be ready for GP,” said Maree, “but then I got to the point where I thought I would never think she was ready enough so I just had to bite the bullet and do it. It all worked out OK and the judges let me know she was ready (the scores were impressive for a first timer)! She is still far from where she will end up, there is so much that can still be so much better but this is a very good start and a wonderful indication of what is possible with her. She now needs to be a little more relaxed and supple through the movements and more confident in the piaffe. It’s all there. It’s just a matter of time and experience.”
 
You have to wonder if this mare has the ability to win the Sydney CDI Grand Prix even though it will only be her third Big Tour competition.
 
Maree’s recently gelded her stallion Rodrigo III (stable name Ringo) who has been competing at Grand Prix since 2009. I asked why her mare was already scoring higher than Ringo considering he had been competitive at the world young horse championships. “Well, I love my little Rodrigo and he has been such an amazing horse for me, he took me to Germany for the World Young Horse Champs and from there we found Diamantina, he has been trainable and honest and sound all the way through to GP and because I was competing him at Grand Prix, I was able to be patient and wait for Diamantina. She has amazing paces and is fantastic in the test; she just lifts that little bit more. She is very focused and trainable. Ringo on the other hand is a little bit like a stallion and can become a bit earthbound. It’s really not easy for me to compare the two. They’re so different.”
 
So why geld him? “I gelded him in the hope I could find 10% more, he’ll be competitive if the gelding works and I get 10% more!!!” Although I totally understand Maree’s intention I was glad that my boss doesn’t want a 10% improvement from me.
 
When watching Maree and Diamantina it is very exciting. The mare looks very hot, so much energy and yet Maree somehow manages to keep the lid on the boiler. I was surprised to hear that the mare is quite lazy at home. “She always wants to be big and slow so I’m always trying to make her small and quick. But at a competition she can be very noise reactive and yes hot.
 
This is when I love to ride her the most.” You can hear the excitement in Maree’s voice. “She is amazing when she’s hot. All power and grace and as soon as she gets in the arena, she focuses and it’s like is a perfect storm!”
 
All information on the Sydney CDI is available at www.sydneycdi.com. Tickets are still available and the trade village is booked out which means great shopping. What more could you want.
 
Reflecting on the past and looking towards the future
 
The Sydney CDI was the first internationally recognised dressage competition in Australia. It was first held in 1992 in one of Australia's most renowned wine-growing areas, the Hunter Valley. Within two years it outgrew the venue and was then moved to Sydney. Over the last twenty years it has grown to be the highlight of Australia's dressage calendar. The event has won the Event of the Year at the Equestrian Australia Sport Achievements awards three times in 2006, 2009, 2010. Like all equestrian events it takes a team of hard working volunteers to make them successful. What also is needed is an experienced Event Director to ensure all bases are covered. The Sydney CDI has been extremely lucky to have had Toni Venhaus involved since its inception and she took over the helm from her husband Franz a few years before the Sydney Olympic Games. Franz and Toni have been instrumental in shaping the Sydney CDI into the event it is today.
 
This year will be interesting as a number of Australia's elite riders are in Europe battling it out for a place on the London 2012 Olympic team. Recently, Equestrian Australia endorsed seven combinations to compete at the Olympic nomination shows in Europe - Hayley Beresford on Belissimo, Mary Hanna on Sancette, Lyndal Oatley on Potifar, Brett Parbery on Lord of Loxley, Rozzie Ryan on GV Bullwinkle, Rachael Sanna on Jaybee Alabaster and Chantal Wigan on Ferero.
 
As these riders won’t be competing at the Sydney CDI, it opens the gate for some of the new Big Tour horses to win one of the coveted Sydney CDI trophies. One combination to watch out for is the very experienced Maree Tomkinson on her delightful mare Diamantina. There are also a number of young adults who have been working hard over the years and are now showing the maturity and skill to give some of Australia’s best a run for their money. This bunch of youthful riders I have nick named ‘The Young Guns.’ Over the next few weeks I will be doing a number of articles showcasing some of these riders.
 
Indications are that the competition will be hot in the small tour with a stronger than ever field. There is an expectation that some horses will be scoring in the 70% range on a regular basis.
 
The Sydney CDI has made many champions and by doing so it has enthused lots of riders to chase their dreams. Winning or placing at this event has become a benchmark to gauge wether these horse and riders have the potential to compete abroad. This year will be no different!
 
The Sydney CDI will run from the 3rd May to the 5th May. Tickets are still available. For all information visit www.sydneycdi.com
 
Celebrating 20 years!
 
Some of Australia’s leading dressage horses and riders will be travelling to Europe to take part in the Olympic Nomination events and will miss the Sydney CDI this year. This leaves the door wide open for other combinations to step up and win one of the coveted Sydney CDI trophies.
 
The competition in Sydney is always tough and a win in Sydney is as good as it can get in Australia. Over $40,000 in prize money and prizes is on offer – the highest for a Dressage event in Australia.
 
Once again we have a top line up of Judges officiating this year. Seven visiting “foreign” Judges will be part of the Ground Jury this year including three foreign FEI 5* (O-Level) Judges: Stephen Clarke (GBR), Maribel Alonso (MEX) and Peter Holler (GER). Other judges making the trip down under include Kurt Christensen (DEN), Victoire Mandl (AUT), Chalotte Bredahl (USA), Jan Bird (NZL). Joining the panel will be Australia’s two FEI 5* Judges Mary Seefried and Susan Hoevenaars, 4* Judge Ricky MacMillan and 3* Judges Jane Ventura and Gisela Nilsson-Harding.
 
An exciting addition this year is the inclusion of the FEI Young Rider Under 25 Grand Prix and Intermediate II test for riders aged 16-25 years. The response from up and coming young riders has been very positive and the Organising Committee is delighted to be able to provide an opportunity for the next generation of Grand Prix riders.
 
Our younger riders will not be left out as a CDI-Y will take place as well.
 
The Hanoverian Horse Society of Australia Young Horse Championships will once again attract a top line of young horses, and we will announce the Guest Rider for the Finals very soon.
 
The International Race Horse Transport (IRT) EA Advanced Tournament is always hotly contested. This year will be no different going by the numbers of horses that are achieving great results at this level.
 
The Sydney CDI is renowned for its great hospitality, and tickets are now on sale for the “Top Spot” Marquee. Bookings for the “Celebration Saturday Evening Dinner” started rolling in as soon as they went on sale before Christmas.
 
Reserved seating tickets for Saturday’s competition and entertainment are available on-line from the website. For a limited period patrons will be able to ‘select their own seats’ - a new initiative this year.
 
Enquires: Ph 0418 686 781
 
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The City of Holroyd Band

Arial act Liquid Rizen

Sheridyn Ashwood and Mr P

Denise Rogan and Just one Wish at Boneo Park CDI RF

Robbie Soster on Robali Razzamattazz

Megan Bryant on Donnabella

Alexis Hellyer on Waca W

Toni Venhaus

Maree Tomkinson

Elliott Petterson accepts theYoung Rider award at the 2011 Sydney CDI

Jayden Brown on Furst Friedrich

David McKinnon on QEB Good as Gold

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