Last week (12-15 December), Para-equestrian combinations from across Australia and New Zealand descended on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula to compete at the Victorian Dressage Festival.
The competition ran over three days and incorporated team, individual and freestyle classes, with each grade also naming an overall winner. In addition, for those riders campaigning for a place on the Australian Paralympic Team, the event also gave riders the opportunity to gain their Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games qualifying scores.
Boneo Park’s impressive main arena played host to the Para-dressage competition for the three days, with each combination’s performance evaluated by world-class judges Sarah Leitch (UK), Anne Prain (FRA) and Australia’s Sue Cunningham. These judges are also on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Ground Jury, allowing the riders a unique opportunity to compete in front of the judges before the Games – and an indication of their performance ranking on the world stage.
The quality of the competition seen over the three days was impressive, with 17 riders competing across five classifications.
The overall competition winners were Marnie Clapham with Freedom Spyda in Grade I, Victoria Davies with Andaluka Elegido in Grade II, Emma Booth with Mogelvangs Zidane in Grade III, Zoe Vorenas with Neversfelde Kipling in Grade IV and Stuart Drysdale with Blueberry 20 in Grade V.
“I am very happy with how Kip’s [Neversfelde Kipling] work is progressing,” Vorenas said. “It’s nice to feel like all that hard work is paying off, and the scores are creeping up bit by bit. Kip is so willing to work harder and always wants to please, so sometimes keeping him a little less expressive is the tricky part! I’m really happy to post good, solid scores towards our Tokyo campaign.”
Equestrian Australia’s High Performance Para-equestrian Team Coach, Lone Jorgensen, said: “We are really happy about the numbers of competitors. As we know, we are in the lead-up to Tokyo, and we have had some great scores. We have some good potential combinations for Tokyo.”
By Equestrian Australia