1700 spectators flocked to the magnificent Willinga Park over the weekend to watch International dressage.
The award-winning equestrian centre at Bawley Point on the South Coast of New South Wales, opened its doors to give the community a taste of both elite equestrian competition, and local indulgences such as seafood, chocolate, cheese, berries, and wine. The architecture, currently shortlisted for the World Architecture Awards, and stunning botanic gardens were also on show.
There’s never been such an event held in the South Coast region before. It was internationally recognised by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). There is only one other dressage event of this ranking in NSW, (in Sydney), and only a handful across Australia. The 99 competitors included the best in the sport from Australia, travelling from as far as Northern Queensland and Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular.
Dressage athletes were seeking a boost in their training in the lead up to the World Equestrian Games (to be held in America next year), and they certainly got this. Big crowd gathered around the Grand Prix arena for the Grand Prix Freestyle finals on Sunday (dressage choreographed to music). Here Willinga Park saw the best results ever achieved in Australian Dressage, with nine combinations being awarded scores of over 70%.
Congratulations to the 2017 Grand Prix Freestyle Champion, Shannan Goodwin and ‘Aristede’ who did a fabulous performance that scored her 74.35%. In second place was Brett Parbery on board ‘DP Weltmieser’ with 74.15% and in equal third place, local Shoalhaven rider Alycia Targa with ‘CP Dresden’ and Rozzie Ryan and ‘Jarrah R’ both earning 73.03% from our judges. Winners of the international competitions included Sue Hearn and ‘Remmington’ who took home the Grand Prix CDI 2* title, along with Charlotte Waterman with ‘Northern Xanthus III’, Tanisha Ryan and ‘Quizzical’, and Angus Fripp with ‘Foxwood Remy’, who were the Under 25, Young Rider (16 – 21 years old) and Junior (14 – 18 years old) Freestyle winners.
A local spectator said, “We saw a poster at Bawley point IGA and booked tickets online. My children had the “best day of their lives!”. All (competitors) let our children pat horses and then show them prep and cool-down after event. We were talked through all stages of prep, shown different horse’s personalities, just fabulous. A highlight was when we were watching presentations and one of the girls receiving an award asked my daughter to hold her horse! Now they all want lessons, which they shall get. We will return to (future) events.”
Willinga Park owner Terry Snow described what is in store for the future, “We want to change the sport in Australia to give our Aussie athletes the best chance to succeed on the world stage. There’s a long way to go but the secret is spectators. If we can increase the support from spectators, we can attract more sponsors. If we can get more people following equestrian sport, I have no doubt that we will see an increase in equestrian participation rates, which will only boost the sport across the country. We want to see Equestrian sports on television like you would find in Europe and the UK. Thanks to the sponsors of this Dressage event, and the community who came along, we are getting closer to that goal.”