Antonello is Back
Six short weeks ago Rio hopeful John Thompson thought he may lose his horse JHT Antonello to colic.
Today, the Hamilton combo won the coveted Dressage Horse of the Year at their first HOY after a tight tussle with fellow Rio hopeful Julie Brougham (Palmerston North) aboard Vom Feinsten.
The battle between mates produced some eye watering scores and entranced the crowd with some brilliant dressage displays.
Both riders gained valuable Rio qualifying marks – Brougham now has all of hers that make her eligible for selection for Rio while Thompson has just one to go.
Thompson’s 69.766% for the Grand Prix and 69.9% for the Grand Prix Special were both personal bests. He also scored 73.8% for his musical freestyle which included a nine for his one-time-changes up the centreline.
Just the Grand Prix Special and Musical Freestyle count for the overall title, with the latter worth more points.
“I am just rapt,” he said. “We got personal bests, and you think that just six weeks ago Antonello nearly died. Now we are starting to get some strength and it’s nice to be able to put some power back into the test, and not just survive.”
Thompson heads to Australia in a week to do some coaching, and Antonello will come out a week later with his partner Holly Leach. He has three chances to get his final qualifying mark for Rio.
Thompson and Antonello will compete at Dressage With The Stars in Melbourne, followed by the Sydney CDI two weeks later.
“This show was just super. It was my first HOY and I think it is creative chaos. Antonello loves the atmosphere and the audience. It was amazing.”