From January 17-20, hundreds of dedicated riders aged eight to 25 from Victoria, South Australia and NSW descended on Fiona Selby’s breathtaking Boneo Park Equestrian Centre for the 2019 Ellenbrae Park Victorian Youth Dressage Championships. Despite having everything from sweltering heat to torrential rain and lightning, all riders put their best foot (and hoof) forward with many sensational up-and-coming combinations shining through the clouds. Paired with Olympic and internationally accredited judges, it surely was a competition to watch, and with a vibrant and fun trade village, spectators had much to enjoy.
Day one kicked off with the Interschool classes, sponsored by Toorak College, which allowed the younger kids to participate and get a taste of what the world of dancing on horseback is really like. The Overall Interschools Preliminary Championship went to the exciting new combination of Charlee Martin and Ellenbrae Jupiter, and with a massive score of 76.346 per cent in the preliminary 1.2, there is certainly a bright future in store for them.
The competition on day two was fierce! At the end of the day, with many riders soaked through, there were extra big smiles on the State Championship winners’ faces, including Charlie Welsh, who won the Advanced Championship on the talented Horizonte de Jeu; Dana Krause and Taittinger VDS, who won the Elementary Championship; Louisa Inge and her lovely Road to Jamieson, who took out the Pony Elementary Championship; and Indi Officer and super Devlin Park Time Will Tell, who won the Overall Interschools Novice Championship.
Day three saw the sun start to shine again, and with the early morning sound check signifying the start of freestyles to music, riders were eager to get out and showcase the movements in the way they designed. This class always draws a crowd as riders and their dancing partners showcase their talent to some of their favourite music, creating an exciting and distinct atmosphere. Charlie Welsh and Horizonte de Jeu danced their way to win the Advanced Freestyle, while Skye Wright and the stunning Kamber Meryn won the Elementary Freestyle. With the Championship classes continuing, Isabelle Luxmoore and Linus WK’s faultless tests secured them the Medium Championship while South Australia’s Kaitlin Petney and the gorgeous Jazz Fusion R took out the Novice Championship. The day’s participation classes allowed riders to compete under the guidance of Australia’s top judges on young or new horses that haven’t yet qualified to compete at State Championships. Gabriella Officer and Radnor Fantastic won the Participant Preliminary Junior Championship and Victoria Meyer and Almania Matrix won the Senior Championship.
Day four’s final presentations were emotional for many because this was their last time competing at this event. Nicole Berry and the exceptional Christos won the Preliminary Championship; Eliza Harvey and Heatherton Park Surprise took out the Pony Preliminary Championship; Jasmine Abernethy and Royal Diamond Jubilee won the Participation Novice Championship; Claire Nitschke and Tassas Taboo jived their way to success winning the Novice Freestyle; and Tamara Campain riding Bon Chance had a blast winning the Medium Freestyle. The overall Championships for the FEI classes were announced. The FEI classes are internationally recognised with the three tests run over three days. The final day consisted of freestyles, ensuring all riders finished the competition with a smile. Paige Koliba and Loriot Skyes the Limit won the FEI Pony Championship with Sophie Taylor and Raven Lodge Aura getting Reserve Champion. Jessica Dertell and the dashing Valerius Waltermeyer won the FEI Junior Championship with Reserve Championship going to Dana Krause and Taittinger VDS. Lindsey Ware, riding the incredible Aristede, won the FEI Young Rider Championshp with Amy Bachmann and Silverdene Pharaoh getting the Reserve Champion. Mary Nitschke, of NSW, riding Utopian Cardinal won the FEI Small Tour Championship; Jessica Hivon and Greenoaks Weltmann won the FEI Medium Championship; Fern Wright and fabulous Kamber Pryderi won the Big Tour Championship; and the FEI Overall Championship was won by Mary Nitschke and Utopian Cardinal.
The final day concluded with the awarding of the perpetual trophies in honour of young riders who lost their lives doing what they love, with the Briana Judge Memorial and the Taylor Farley Memorial awarded to the grateful Emily Yeoman. Past superstar dressage horses were also remembered, with the Highborn Baden Trophy won by Nicole Berry, Lindsey Ware receiving the Kevin Hitchins and Deb Hamid award for the most successful rider in the FEI Championships; and Taleah Cameron winning the Macedon Ranges Encouragement Award recognising her efforts.
Jan Smith, Donna Desmet and many others worked tirelessly to make sure this competition went off without a hitch. Judges came from all over Australia and New Zealand to give the riders a true gauge on where they are heading, and without our sponsors we would have no events to participate in. Thanks to all these people and many more, it is without a doubt that many riders will have this competition marked on their calendars for next year.
For more information on sponsorship opportunities for next year, please visit our website vydc.org.au