Biggest win of Deken’s career
Taranaki’s Abbie Deken had the biggest win of her career, riding off with the Dressage Horse of the Year crown at Horse of the Year on her lovely chestnut KH Ambrose.
It hasn’t been an easy road for the pair, but all the hard work paid off for Deken, who did a personal best in today’s Freestyle to clinch the title.
KH Ambrose is a 14-year-old gelding by Anamour and was bred by John McGrath. Deken bought him as an unbroken three-year-old and it hasn’t been all smooth sailing.
“There are so many struggles and doubt along the way and massive setbacks, so when you get something like this the hours and hours that go in are so worthwhile,” she says.
“Early on he would dump me, often, there was a point when I didn’t think I would be able to continue with the horse because it was too dangerous – but we got through it. Then he got laminitis in 2012 and we missed our first Grand Prix season.”
Deken’s goal for the show was to improve on her nationals performance nd ride better. She and coach Vanessa Way had worked hard on the passage piaffe tour, and that paid off today.
“I had a nice feeling throughout the test and a smile on my face. I really enjoyed it. I went into it thinking, let’s try to enjoy it, and I did. To get the win on top of that is the icing on the cake.”
It was a battle between Deken and John Thompson, who won the Grand Prix Special yesterday and looked on track to defend his title.
But Deken and KH Ambrose had a blinder in the CDI*** FEI Grand Prix Freestyle today, scoring 72.9 for the win and sealing the overall Dressage Horse of the Year title for 2017.
Thompson and JHT Antonello, last year’s title winners, were second in the Freestyle today with 71.825 and second overall. Third overall was Penny Castle with Magnus Spero and fourth was Jody Hartstone and Ali Baba.
In presenting the awards dressage convenor Wendy Hamerton said it was Deken’s first really big win, but Thompson had chased her hard.
“Taranaki might be on the edge of the earth for some people, but when it comes to dressage they are right up there.”
Deken paid tribute to her coach Vanessa Way, who was also fourth in the Freestyle and fifth overall. “I’m super excited for my big first win. Thanks to my amazing coach, Vanessa Way, she’s helped me every step of the way, this is for her as well.
“She’s my coach and she lives right next door to me, we are a real team between us. She’s 100% the reason why I’m here.”
It was a great show for Deken, who won her first Horse of the Year title earlier in the show, the Level 3 championship.
Deken says it is an exciting time as it is very competitive at the top level of dressage in New Zealand and all the riders are very supportive of having the country’s first rider to go to a World Cup final, Wendi Williamson.
And she’s not finished with KH Ambrose yet. “We’ll have a solid winter training and keep on trying to get the scores higher and higher – he’s still got more in him.”