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WEG - Dressage Day 1, Aussie Girls Shine

Maree Tomkinson

WEG – Dressage Day 1 – Aussie Girls Shine 

Aussie Crowd at WEGThere is no doubt that there is enormous pressure on all riders as they take part in the final selection events and then prepare for one of the most important days of their lives.  No horse lover would dispute that sensitive, finely tuned horses are aware that “something is going on” and the unusual sights and sounds which are part of a big atmosphere such as WEG, can be a frightening and worrying experience for our equine partners.

The Dressage medals for the teams competition is decided on the results from the first two days of competition.  The top 30 riders are then eligible to take part in the individual event which begins with the Grand Prix Special. 

Wet WEG GroundsThe top combinations in the “Special” earn the right to take part in the final Grand Prix Freestyle, which is the event that most enthusiasts are keen to see.  The musical ride adds an exciting dimension to dressage that bring the sport alive.  The Freestyle allows the rider to inject some personality and style to their performance and the choice of music often reflects the character of the horse. (left the swet puddles made the rider's job difficult)

4 riders from qualified countries may contest the team event, where countries can put forward a 4 strong team.  The top three scores will be counted in the team score calculations.  Many countries only have 3 qualified riders and must rely on all riders producing a personal best to bring their scores up to a team best.

DiamantinaAustralia fielded a team of 4 riders and it was Maree Tomkinson from Victoria who took the 12th position in the draw, on day 1.  Most Australian fans know that Maree’s talented mare Diamantina is a superstar, but she is also sensitive and reactionary and can easily become frightened of the “big” atmosphere which is so much a part of International events.

Day 1 of the dressage was very wet and only 14 degrees, so not ideal weather to keep horses comfortable and relaxed.  The final entry into the competition area was through a tunnel.   It was predicted that some horses may take offense and the riders may have trouble. 

For poor Maree, her worst fears came true as Diamantina believed that there were goblins at the other end of the tunnel.  The mare spun around and promised to dig her heels in and stay where she felt safer.  A quick thinking Maree realised that the clock was ticking and at this level of competition, the judges would expect her to be ready, exactly on time and if not, the penalty is elimination.

DiamantinaSo, Maree did not persist and jumped off and made her journey up the tunnel on foot, leading her reluctant partner.  She then did not have time to familiarise Diamantina and as she approached the letter A, the bell rang and she had to enter. 

No one would believe this to be the best start, but Maree showed her cool ability to think … and she rode in with grit and determination that put a lump in the throat. Richard Davidson who was commentating, acknowledged Maree’s gutsy effort and the pair pulled of an amazing 69.300% score, which was a truly great start to the Aussie WEG effort.

Maree TomkinsonAt the completion of her test, Maree’s expression said it all; she had “conquered Mt Everest, and lived to the tale.  The huge Aussie contingent exploded in applause.  I am sure Maree will never forget the feeling – what a great ambassador for Australian Dressage.

Sandro BoyOur next team member had to wait until the 39th position in the draw – the nerves must be excruciating.  Lyndal Oatley and Sandro Boy are now a seasoned  combination on the International scene and the German based rider confirmed the accuracy of her recent outstanding results.  It would be difficult to find a more fluent and loose horse than Sandro Boy and his lateral work was sensational. Lyndal was all smiles and acknowledged the support of the hunge Aussie contingent.

Lyndal OatleyWith or most experienced competitors Kristy Oatley riding Ronan and Mary Hanna with her London partner Sancette, still to go, expectations are high for a best ever finish.

Australia finished Day 1 in 9th position on the team leaderboard.

Day 2 Dressage starts at 4PM on Tuesday 26th August, (Australian time) and can be found live streaming at FEI TV.

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Story and Pics from Saddleworld Media