NOV 2023




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NOV 2023
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A Few Words



Ryan's Rave



Para Equestrian









Off the Track












Para Equestrian









Pony Club


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Mary Hanna and Ivanhoe. Image by One Eyed Frog Photography.

Last month was a big one, especially for our Paris Olympics Australian Dressage Top 10 Leaderboard, with the Australian Dressage Championships at Boneo Park really, really impacting. For the first time ever we have multiple Australian riders who are smashing their way through the 70% barrier simultaneously.

This is new territory for Australia, especially for Australian-based dressage riders. It is almost as if there is a “peloton” forming. Now that is exciting! If we get a bunch of Australian riders bouncing off each other and slipstreaming and interacting, goodness knows where that will go! It has to be good.

My take on it is that these are the beginnings of dressage momentum in Australia. What sort of momentum can this “peloton” reach before the Paris Olympics? Good question and maybe this phenomenon will develop much more rapidly than anyone can guess at. We will see.

Up until now the Australian dressage performances have been championed by outstanding lone Australian gladiators who, against all the odds and in complete defiance of Australian geography, have toiled to achieve dressage excellence for our Sunburnt Country. It has been very tough going whether the riders were based here or overseas. Well, the “tough” is not going to go out of this equation, however a “peloton” will absolutely change the dynamics and Australian excellence in the dressage arena won’t be left to the brave and defiant efforts of the occasional Australian gladiator! Let’s just see what happens here. Dressage Australia coming from ground zero!

The Australian Eventing Top 10 Leaderboard for Paris is looking stoic! Unfortunately, stoic is not good enough for an Olympic medal. Our number one ranking in Shane Rose and Virgil have a whiff of brilliance about them and leave you wondering whether this combination could upset the world and challenge for an individual gold medal. After Shane and Virgil, however, we have 15 or so stoic, solid Australian eventing citizens all with qualifying scores over 30 penalties. Over 30 penalties and under 40 penalties is nothing to be sniffed at, it’s just that this is probably 10 penalties away from individual medals or 30 penalties away from a team medal. Yikes! We are still off the pace at the moment.

“Show jumping rankings still
defy my ability to present an
objective Top 10 in this column.”

Realistically, are we going to see some eventing international scores from our Aussie riders turn up really soon that can make us think that a team medal at Paris is not just something of the past? My opinion? Yes, we do have brilliance smouldering along amongst the stoic. It will be an anxious next eight months for Australia. The qualifying period for the Paris Olympics closes on 24 June 2024. We need these “brilliant smouldering” combinations to shake off the cobwebs and emerge with finishing scores in the remaining qualifying events in the 20-25 penalty range. That is medal territory and that will get us excited.

Show jumping? Um yes… show jumping rankings still defy my ability to present an objective Top 10 in this column. Before you go telling me how slack I am, have a look at a little bit of this Equestrian Australia show jumping selection criteria for the Australian Paris Olympic team! It’s crazy and so subjective. Good luck to the Australian selectors on this one and the riders must be geniuses to understand and be comfortable with this!

6. Nomination Criteria Subjective Criteria  

6.1 The National Federation will nominate the three (3) eligible Athletes as part of a Combination who, in the opinion of the National Federation operating through the Jumping Selection Panel, in its absolute discretion:     

(a) will be most likely to achieve the highest competitive results at the Games; and 

Yes, 6.1 (a) sounds sensible but what criteria are they going to use to evaluate those riders: “most likely to achieve the highest competitive results at the Games”? Why is this part under the Subjective Criteria heading?

(b) are, and will remain until the conclusion of the Games, positive ambassadors for the Sport, National Federation, and the Games

Goodness gracious, that’s a bit scary. So, what does this mean? Is Equestrian Australia suggesting that we have a team of show jumpers who have good manners and can hold their knives and forks correctly at a dinner party and still represent our best riders? Well, good luck with that!

6.2 For the purpose of assessing Combinations against the criteria in clause 6.1 (a), the Jumping Selection Panel will consider the following competition, objective and discretionary factors in its sole and absolute discretion:  

So, that is good. Following is a list of shows which the selectors are going to use “For the purpose of assessing Combinations against the criteria in clause 6.1 (a),”. Surely you would think at this stage you just switch over to results which would, in my opinion, dominate who is and who is not selected. Well, ah no: “the Jumping Selection Panel will consider the following competition, objective and discretionary factors in its sole and absolute discretion:” Well, ah, what do you mean “objective and discretionary factors” relating to the competition results? What discretionary factors? And worse still, these “discretionary factors” are in the Australian Jumping Selection Panel, or in other words the Australian Show Jumping Selectors “sole and absolute discretion”. That’s crazy!

a. Competition Factors  

i. performances and results achieved by the Combination at European and North American shows at CSI3* or higher (CSI4* or CSI5*) during 2023 and 2024. Greater emphasis may be placed on results achieved at CSI3* of 1.55m or higher. 

ii. Performances and results achieved by the Combination in the Grand Prix or World Cup (CSI1*-W) at the following competitions; 

A. Shepparton (CSI1*-W) 18 March 2023; (won by Sarah McMillan and Tyrone VDL)

B. Werribee (CSI1*-W) 25 March 2023; (won by Tom McDermott and Cooley Gangster)

C. Larapinta (CSI1*-W) 29 April 2023; (won by Amber Fuller and CP Aretino)

D. Australian Show Jumping Championships (GP) 5 November 2023; 

E. Sale (CSI1*-W) 26 November 2023; 

F. Sydney Summer Classic (CSI1*-W) 9 December 2023; 

G. Shepparton (CSI1*-W) 16 March 2024; 

H. Werribee (CSI1*-W) 23 March 2024; and… 

Well, that’s great. At least there is a bit of structure which we onlookers can follow, but God help us trying to evaluate the worth of Australian riders who win these competitions. The whole thing is so subjective and as the criteria says, the Australian Show Jumping Selectors have “sole and absolute discretion.”

iii. performances and results achieved by the Combination at CSI5* level prior to 2023 may be considered to demonstrate the experience of the Combination, 

So what’s this? A rider can go really badly in a big competition like a CSI5* and it can just be written off and “be considered to demonstrate the experience of the Combination”? Okay. This is why I am not game to put a list up because this is way beyond anything I have ever thought of.

For the avoidance of doubt, performances and results achieved at CSI5* competitions and European and North American competitions may, in the absolute discretion of the Jumping Selection Panel, have more significant weight attached to them.

I am so glad the Australian Show Jumping criteria added this final paragraph. It clears everything up and satisfies any doubts I was having!

Holy smoke! Who wrote this? It really does my head in.

Please understand that this is just an excerpt from the Australian show jumping nomination criteria and you can find the whole document on the Equestrian Australia (EA) website under Selection Policies.

The next show in Australia on the selection list above for show jumping which counts for Paris selection is the Australian Show Jumping Championships from 31 October to 5 November 2023 at Sydney International Equestrian Centre. If Equestrian Life does not report on this show elsewhere in the magazine next month, I will try and include some results and commentary.

Okay, now on to the…


1. Shane Rose and Virgil have a magnificent 28.5 penalties from Adelaide CCI5*L on 20 April 2023. This combination at the moment is the only Australian eventing combination that gives off threatening vibes in terms of a potentially outstanding result at the Paris Olympics next year.

2. Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend have 32.2 penalties from Kilguilkey House International Horse Trials CCI4*S in Ireland on 29 July 2023. Kevin is based in England and is an Olympic silver medallist from Tokyo in 2021 riding Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam. There is no question Kevin is a top rider. Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend did do a 29.7 score back in 2021 at a CCI4*S and a 30.2-penalties also in 2021 in a CCI5*L. Getting Kevin under 30 penalties on this horse is possible but will represent nearly a personal best performance. All of the stars will have to align. I don’t think Kevin is about to win an individual medal at Paris on Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend but he may be a serious option as a backstop for an Australian team medal. We still have time as in eight months; however, we would certainly like to have an Australian team capable of what Kevin can produce as in 32.2 penalties or better. We really need to get under the 30-penalty mark.

3. Andrew Cooper and Hey Arnold have 32.9 penalties from Tamborine CCI4*S in Australia on 19 February 2023. Andrew is such a consistent top-of-the-range 4* rider. We so need Andrew to get his dressage scores under 30 penalties. In dressage language, 30 penalties is 70% or better. Andrew is a superstar when it comes to cross country and is a super professional in the show jumping arena.

4. Sophia Hill and Humble Glory have 33.5 penalties from Werribee CCI4*S on 2 February 2023. Again, another Australian rider who needs to get the dressage score under 30 penalties. Humble Glory and Sophia are definitely capable of brilliance in the cross country and show jumping. It’s all about dressage scores for these top riders to move into a position where they can seriously contribute to an Australian team medal at the Paris Olympics.

“The Australian Eventing
Top 10 rankings for
Paris are looking stoic!”

5. Sammi Birch and Finduss PFB have a score of 34.4 penalties from Blenheim CCI4*L in England on 13 September 2023. This was a fabulous performance. They sailed around the cross country clear of jumping penalties and clear of time penalties. They backed this up with a clear show jumping round. Sammi and Finduss PFB finished on their dressage score, which is a magnificent effort and they were one of only seven competitors to achieve this amazing performance. There were 93 starters in this event. Sammi is the same as Andrew and Sophia in that we so need her to get below 30 penalties in the dressage phase.

6. Shenae Lowings and Bold Venture have 34.7 penalties from Adelaide CCI4*S on 20 April 2023. Shenae is one of our “brilliant smouldering” combinations who needs to shake off the cobwebs and emerge! Shenae and Bold Venture did win Melbourne International 3DE CCI4*L in 2022, which no longer counts as a qualifier, but at this event she scored 25.3 penalties. Now this is individual Olympic medal territory. We so need Shenae and Bold Venture to return to form.

7. David Middleton and WEC In The Money have 35.3 penalties from Wandin CCI4*S on 18 March 2023. David is a very interesting character. He has ridden for Australia at the World Equestrian Games back in the day in 2002 in Jerez, Spain. David is so competitive. As a baby when he was 15 to 18 years of age, he was also very involved in sailing and was on Australian youth squads, won state championships and was runner-up at the Nationals; without question he was a budding Olympian before throwing everything he had at the horses. One of the guys that David used to compete against, Tom King, is today a sailing gold medallist. David is “hell bent” on getting back to the top in eventing. “Hell bent” is again a term from back in the day and something that the young up-and-coming eventers of today would do well to be very wary of! David thinks that his top horse is WEC In The Breeze  not WEC In The Money  which has David ranked as the No. 7 Australian heading for Paris. WEC In The Breeze has three wins and a second in her last four CCI starts! Holy smoke! Her best score at the moment is 40 penalties on the dot at Werribee CCI4*L where she was second. This is just outside the scores needed to get on our Top 10 leaderboard. I think it is fair to say, look out for David Middleton. Here he comes and he is seriously tough.

8. Olivia Barton and Hollyander HG have 35.5 penalties from Melbourne CCI4*L on 8 June 2023. Olivia is another of our young “brilliant smouldering” combinations. This posted score of 35.5 penalties is actually Olivia’s dressage score. Yep, not yet Olympic medal good enough but let me just hold for a moment and point out that I don’t think there will be more than 10 riders at the Paris Olympics who have ever in their life finished on their dressage score at a CCI4*L or a CCI5*L. This is such an impossible achievement. It is a super, super special achievement from Olivia Barton and Hollyander HG. This performance did win the Melbourne International 3DE CCI4*L this year.

Interestingly, Sammi Birch and Finduss PFP also finished on their dressage score of 34.4 penalties at Blenheim in England last month. We have some very fancy Australian riders in the wings operating at a very fancy standard. Olivia Barton actually has another horse at 4* called Henrik APH who is posting better dressage scores than Hollyander HG. Just at the moment, Henrik APH is not quite as reliable cross country… yet. We are banking on Olivia to shake off the cobwebs and emerge much as we are banking on Shenae Lowings. Both of these girls have the potential to move the Australian event team into an Olympic medal chance. We actually need both of them.

9. Bill Levett and Huberthus AC have 35.5 penalties from Montelibretti CCI4*S in Italy on 9 March 2023. Bill is based in England and renowned for having some of the best horses in his team of eventers. Bill has already ridden for Australia and does from time to time put in a breathtaking performance. Bill Levett and Huberthus AC have to be watched very closely.

10. Shane Rose and Easy Turn move into the “death seat” with a score of 35.8 penalties at the Willinga Park CCI4*S 7-8 October 2023. This is the most beautiful mare and is by the show jumping stallion, Casall. So, Shane Rose has the No. 1 position in the Top 10 leaderboard on Virgil and the No. 10 position on Easy Turn. Easy Turn has a clear record of scoring under 30 penalties in the dressage. On paper, she certainly looks like having the potential to work her way right up this leaderboard and be a very serious team consideration come June 24 2024, the end of the qualifying period for Paris.

Moving out of the Eventing Top 10 rankings is our one and only West Australian representative, Kenya Wilson and Sandros Salute. Kenya and Sandros Salute had a score of 36.7 penalties from Brigadoon CCI4*S on 1 April 2023. There are a couple of WA riders who are currently just off the pace but definitely still within striking distance of updating their scores and again putting pressure on selection consideration for the 2024 Olympics.

The next really big event on the horizon for the Australian eventers is the Sydney International Three-Day Event CCI4*L on 9-12 November in Sydney. This will be mega!


Well, the Australian Dressage Championships at Boneo Park have been and gone and the impact on our leaderboard was mega. Here we go:

1. Mary Hanna on Ivanhoe with a score of 72.413% at the Australian Dressage Championships CDI-W on 13 October 2023 keeps Mary Hanna in the No. 1 spot. Mary is unstoppable. To stay in the top spot, Mary had to improve on the score she posted four weeks beforehand at Brisbane CDI3* 14-17 September, and she did. Honestly, I think this 72.413% is a mighty score and does have the potential to stay in the lead all the way through the next eight months to the end of the Paris qualifying period. If this score gets challenged, Australian dressage has definitely changed and changed forever. Super exciting and I have to say that after the Nationals I feel that Australian dressage history is on the brink of reinventing itself. So exciting.

2. Jessica Dertell on Cennin with a score of 71.587% at the Australian Dressage Championships CDI-W on 13 October. This score would have put Jessica and Cennin into the No. 1 position four weeks ago but the whole game is on the move. Jessica Dertell and Cennin are part of a huge change in Australian history. Previously, Jessica and Cennin were sitting on a mighty score of 69.522% from the Brisbane CDI3* on 15 September 2023. This had Jessica ranked No. 4 on our leaderboard. Well, none of that for Jessica and her score of 71.587% was a mighty charge at the top spot. Right now, she is still being held out by Mary Hanna and Ivanhoe, however, she is just a cat’s whisker away. No one needs to be super smart to know that Jessica Dertell and Cennin will land on their feet, regroup and charge again. Oh my goodness, this is Australian dressage hitting turbocharge.

3. David McKinnon on Forlan with a score of 70.804% at the Australian Dressage Championships CDI-W on 13 October. Well, it was all action and David McKinnon on Forlan had his first CDI-W start and answered lots of questions. David and Forlan have been going really well in national competitions and the question was, could he maintain this form at an international show with top-of-the-range international judges? Yep is the answer, and not only that, he got in amongst the top end of the fiercest of competitions ever in Australia in Grand Prix. Can David improve on this score? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Just where is this amazing battle going to end up? Well, certainly way, way beyond any performances that have ever been seen in Australia. I think for those of us looking on, we need to appreciate how lucky we are to be witnessing the reinvention of Australian dressage and the emergence of new Australian superstars.

“How lucky we are
to be witnessing the
reinvention of Australian dressage…”

4. Simone Pearce on Immerdale with a score of 70.717% at the Ornago CDI3* in Italy on 29 September. Simone has piloted Immerdale to this score at this horse’s very first international dressage show. Simone was very quick to reinstate herself as one of Australia’s best ever performing dressage riders after giving up the ride on Fiderdance when she moved on from Gestüt Bonhomme. Well, the Australian-based riders have also really responded, and Simone has incredibly found herself slipping down the leaderboard from No. 2, which she claimed just four weeks ago, to No. 4 this month. Simone will, of course, respond and she does have some big cards up her sleeve, including Destano with whom she is the Australian record holder of the highest Grand Prix score ever of 76.261% at Brno CDI3* in the Czech Republic on 28 August 2020. Holy smoke! What will the Australian dressage team look like if Simone comes back with a score something like that? The best that Australia has ever done is sixth place as a dressage team at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. I think beyond any glimmer of rational hope six months ago, Australia just might line itself up for a fifth or even maybe a fourth team place at the Paris Olympics. That would be 100% not even dreamt about until maybe now. With the 2032 Brisbane Olympics on the horizon, a Paris performance of this magnitude would definitely make the thought of Australia medalling in nine years’ time doable! That so changes everything.

5. Jayden Brown on WillingaPark Quincy B with a score of 69.804% at Hartpury CDI3* in England on 7 July 2023. Jayden and Quincy B do have a score of 70.957% in a national-level Grand Prix which does not count for Paris qualifying or Australian team selection. It does, however, indicate that Jayden is on the move. Right now, Jayden has moved from No. 3 to No. 5. Whoops! The wrong way. The Australian momentum has taken everyone by surprise, and this was so unexpected. This will be so healthy for Australia if Jayden can respond and become part of what looks like a hurtling Australian momentum where the top group of riders are banding together and creating a peloton-type effect.

6. William Matthew on Mysterious Star with a score of 69.174% at Exloo CDI3* in Holland on 4 May 2023. Will is out and about doing very well in really big CDI4* competitions in Europe. Last month Will was ranked No. 5, however, he has slipped one position this month. As I explained last month, Will has so far adopted a bit of a different approach to his Olympic campaign for riders based in the northern hemisphere. Ordinarily, our Australian riders based overseas tend to seek out smaller international competitions where it is thought that maybe it is a little easier to get higher scores. However, Will and Mysterious Star have mainly competed at the bigger shows. This will take extremely careful analysis at the end of the day by the Australian selectors. This subjectivity is not something that this column is dealing with, however, it is a very interesting point.

7. Jayden Brown again, this time on WillingaPark Sky Diamond, who have a score of 68.609% at Hickstead CDI3* in England on 13 May 2023. Jayden riding WillingaPark Sky Diamond did represent Australia at the FEI World Championships last year in Denmark so this is a very serious combination. To qualify for the Australian team last year, Jayden and WillingaPark Sky Diamond had a top score of 69.674%. This was gained about 20 months ago and was good enough to make the Australian team. This is amazing how fast Australian dressage is changing right this moment. All four of the top Australian riders as of this moment are above 70%. Now I am sure Jayden will respond and that is also super exciting.

8. Elliot Patterson and Del Piero ZF with a score of 68.522% at Brisbane CDI3* on 15 September 2023. Elliot and Del Piero ZF have rocketed out of nowhere and at their very first CDI have scored well enough to make our Top 10 leaderboard. We had hoped that just maybe Elliot and Del Piero ZF would maintain their momentum and improve again at the Australian Dressage Championships, but this didn’t happen. There is no question that Del Piero ZF is mighty talented and the judges really like him, scoring lots of 7s and some 8s. He did also have a couple of moments when he lost balance and made some mistakes and this was penalised with 5s and even a couple of 4s. Once competing in amongst this sort of company, you just can’t have baby oopsies. Del Piero ZF will have his day in due time and that might happen before the Paris Olympic qualification has come to an end. We will see.

9. Robert Schmerglatt riding Quando Queen with a score of 68.239% at Willinga Park CDI3* in Bawley Point on 24 February 2023. Clearly this mare is super talented, but I have noticed that she competed in an Intermediate 1 class in Sydney on 29 October with Tori Luxford in the saddle. I can’t help but think that the focus for Quando Queen has changed a little bit. There is still time for Tori to qualify and then start campaigning Quando Queen for Paris. That would be very unexpected but definitely doable. We will all have to just watch what develops here.

10. Lyndal Oatley on Elvive with a score of 68.087% at Herning World Cup CDI3* in Denmark on 21 October, 2023 now moves into the death seat at No. 10. We had expected and hoped that Lyndal would come back on the competition scene with her beautiful horses. We are also very aware that Lyndal and Elvive have historically scored as high as 73.718% and so do have the potential to move from the bottom of the leaderboard to the top. Lyndal just tacking onto the bottom of the leaderboard simply means Lyndal is back and Elvive is moving up into Grand Prix competition mode. This does make everyone hanging onto their rankings further up the ladder a little bit nervous! Very healthy for Australian dressage.

So, dropping off the leaderboard from the No. 9 spot from last month is Jemma Heran on Total Recall. Jemma has a high score of 67.783% which she achieved in Florida, USA. She is now in Europe competing and I am sure she will be very interested in posting scores that will reinstate her in our Top 10. We will wait and see. The No. 10 spot, the death seat, also dumps its combination from last month which was Alinta Veenvliet and Desperanza who have a score of 67.717%. We had hoped that Alinta was also going to have an outstanding Australian Dressage Championships and maybe move up with a higher score. The Grand Prix just didn’t go right for Alinta, however, she did go well in the Freestyle with a score over 70%, so regaining a Top 10 ranking is definitely something that this combination could do in the not-too-distant future.

I have been diligently avoiding the results posted by the New Zealand rider at the Australian Dressage Championships. Melissa Galloway and her horse Windermere J’Obei again belted the heck out of all the Australians. She won the Grand Prix with a score of 73.152%. Then she went on to win the Grand Prix Freestyle with a score of 79.865% – an NZ freestyle record, although not the highest posted on Australia soil (that accolade belongs to Mary Hanna and Calanta, who broke the 80% barrier at Willinga Park back in 2020).

To make things worse, Melissa also competed in the Prix St Georges and Intermediate 1 classes on her young horse, Windermere Integro. Melissa and Integro won the Prix St Georges class with a score of 71.421%. They came fourth with a score of 69.853% in the Intermediate 1 and sixth with a score of 72.317% in the Intermediate 1 Freestyle. Melissa had a wonderful, wonderful show. This sort of contribution to Australian dressage at the top end increases the interaction and development of this peloton-type effect which seems to be impacting so positively on Australian dressage right this moment. These results have to be very exciting for New Zealand as well and are definitely history changing for both countries.

That’s it for this month. The Paris theme I find very exciting. EQ



Pressure Builds in Olympic Stakes – Equestrian Life, October 2023

Tracking Our Paris Contenders – Equestrian Life, September 2023

Let the Qualifying Games Begin – Equestrian Life, August 2023

Live Wire Sparks Coaching Debate – Equestrian Life, July 2023

It’s All Happening Overseas – Equestrian Life, June 2023

Exciting Times for All Of Us – Equestrian Life, May 2023

Will Enzinger a Potential Game Changer – Equestrian Life, March 2023

A Dressage Adventure – Equestrian Life, February 2023

The Big Picture for 2023 – Equestrian Life, January 2023

Heads Up Next Gen, Brisbane Awaits – Equestrian Life, December 2022

Planning for Paris, Leading to LA, Building for Brisbane – Equestrian Life, November 2022

Eventing Results: Disappointing but Promising! – Equestrian Life, October 2022


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