Young Kiwis on fire in Melbourne

The Young Rider competition at the Oceania Championships is neck-and-neck after dressage!

New Zealand’s Young Rider team “all rode their pants off” today, according to team mentor Jock Paget, and made dressage coach Penny Castle really proud, finishing the day just 0.6 points behind the Australian Young Riders, who finished with a best of three scores on 145.2 penalties to the Kiwi’s 145.8 penalties. How close can it be? 

Vicky Browne-Cole, the baby of the team at just 18, and her charming grey thoroughbred Eli, delivered a stunning test to score 47 penalties and be the best of the New Zealanders at the end of the day, holding fourth place in the Horseware Ireland CCI2* class.

Vicky Browne-Cole and Eli are the best of the NZ Young Rider team in Melbourne (Image: Julie Wilson)

They were almost foot-perfect until the final extended trot across the arena, when Vicky asked for the ultimate and Eli broke momentarily, but as Jock said, “The picture was beautiful, and it was great riding.” Vicky says: “I just got greedy in that last trot, but he was great.”

Jackson Bovill and Visionnaire did a lovely test for 13th place (Image: Julie Wilson)

Team anchor Jackson Bovill and Visionnaire scored 50.7 penalties to be 13th overall. Jackson said as he came out to enthusiastic applause: “Was that all right?!” After the bit check he relaxed and added, “It’s been a long time coming, waiting round all day, but I’m really happy with the test.”

Overnight rain made so many pools in the sand arena at Werribee that the dressage started half an hour later than scheduled, so sponges could be used to soak up as much water as possible! But the sun was out by midday and it was a beautiful afternoon, with some high-class dressage for the appreciative supporters to applaud.

First to go for New Zealand was Abigail Long on Enzo, and they produced the best test they could have for 48.1 penalties, to sit in eighth place. Abby says: “It was definitely one of the better tests he’s done, especially in the atmosphere, as he’s not usually good at that.” He certainly exploded when he left the arena to enthusiastic applause from the Kiwi contingent, who congregated on the bank to watch.

Second team rider, Renee Faulkner on Rubinstar HH, had a difficult ride, with Rubin unsettled from the start and delivering unscheduled changes after losing the counter canter, but as Jock said, “She never gave up fighting for every mark.”

Renee Faulkner and Rubinstar HH fought for every mark (Image: Julie Wilson)

Renee was composed throughout, and said afterwards, “He can’t wait for the cross-country, and neither can I!” Theirs is the discard score of 64.8 penalties.

Leading the CCI2* class is Andrew Barnett on Bradgate Park Fonzie, who scored 41.9, with Emma King second on DVZ Chevalier.

Australia Young Rider team member Gemma Tinney is third on Annapurna, just 1.3 ahead of Vicky and Eli.

Jackson and his three female team-mates will walk the cross-country again tomorrow while Jock concentrates on his own dressage. Jackson has already walked it twice, once with Jock and once on his own, and says: “Jock has been awesome. I haven’t trained with him before, but he’s been really helpful.”

He added, “It’s really different, going through the gardens, but it will be fun to ride. It’s beautifully presented, but you need to keep focused and stay on the ball as the time will be tight, and the last water splash is quite tricky.”

The NZ Young Rider team is being sponsored by Bomber Bits NZ and Hidez, and we are sure that the support is appreciated.