Vom Feinsten’s 68.991% in the Grand Prix might not be the score that takes him into the second part of the dressage competition to contest the GP Special, but the performance was one that Julie Brougham and New Zealand supporters can be proud of.
British dressage legend Carl Hester watched from the sidelines, and he thought Julie did a great job. “She did a super-nice test, it was so nice to watch. She was harmonious. Perhaps she needed a little bit more hind leg engagement in the passage, but it was so accurately ridden.”
Dressage NZ chef d’equipe Wendy Hammerton is also pleased with the performance. “She had everything so well prepared. She put herself in a good position to do the best job.” Wendy says it’s “a real privilege” to be in Tryon and she is thoroughly enjoying her experience.
Julie herself was pleased with the test, but disappointed to be under 69%; getting over that mark was one of her many goals. “My first goal was to get in there and compete, and the next goal was to finish the test, and then I had a few other goals after that.
“He was very calm in there, there were a few little tricky little things he did well, that people don’t notice, like the passage to the canter and the collected walk to passage. There were so many who muffed it yesterday, but he did it beautifully.”
Highlights for Julie were the flying changes. “I thought the changes were really good, even though he decided to have a poo, he did the zig-zag very well! I thought that was very even and accurate. He was a little hesitant over the first canter pirouette but I think they were pretty small, and the right one was, as usual, pretty good. I just thought he was really good on all his transitions, like the extended trot back to the collected trot. I hope his first halt was square.
“I was really trying to tick off all those little things; I can’t afford to muck a movement and catch up.”
Julie thought she would have good marks for the changes and the centreline work. “He has got a lovely trot but I just thought he was a bit flat today, so therefore his passage and piaffe was a bit more flat than usual. That is just how it is.”
Now having ridden at both an Olympics and a WEG, Julie believes that having New Zealand riders at these championships is important. She says our riders need to show that they can do clean tests, with no hiccups and correct riding – but having a full team would be make a big difference. “It’s very important to have a team and unfortunately, New Zealand is always going to struggle with that. If they keep seeing New Zealand [on the world stage] more often, it would help [with the marks]. I was very sorry to lose my teammate John Thompson. It just would have made more impact if we had two out there, instead of one.”
Julie was impressed with the arena surface, and says that though she was fortunate to ride early in the day, when the heat was more manageable, it wouldn’t have worried Steiny had they been on later. “He is actually a horse who is very good in hot weather. While we’ve been over here he has competed in over 30 degrees in New York, which was also hugely humid. He did a very good Grand Prix and Special there, well over 70%.”
After this competition, Julie and Steiny are heading back to Lexington where they will again stay with New Zealand show jumper with Sharn Wordley. Julie will stay there with Steiny until he goes into quarantine on the October 3, before catching what will be his 18th international flight back to New Zealand.
The travelling has knocked the horses, in Julie’s opinion. Steiny, and Andrea Raves, Julie’s coach, had to endure a 21-hour trip down to Lexington on their way to WEG. “They were both knackered at the end of it. They had a couple of horses to drop off, and we never knew that. If we had known, we wouldn’t have allowed Steiny and Andrea to go on that truck. He is very robust and does bounce back, and he will bounce back from this.”
It’s certainly not the end of Steiny’s international career, though she has completely ruled out going to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. “I’ll probably compete in Australia again at some stage; this [today] was not the best test he can do, so I just need to travel overseas one more time. But we will probably only have an individual spot for Tokyo, so some other rider and up-and-coming horse needs to fill that.”