Thompson wins CDI FEI Grand Prix Special
Unrelenting overnight rain ground most of the Saturday HOY action to a halt, but the dressage continued in the oval and the CDI FEI Grand Prix Special was a close fought battle.
After making the trek through the slush from the warm-up to the arena the horses did look like they’d just finished a winter steeplechase, with riders to match, but the competition went on.
John Thompson and JHT Antonello again rose to the top of the seven-strong field, managing to crack into the 70s with a winning test of 70.235.
“He’s feeling the best he’s ever felt,” Thompson enthused. “We made a few easy mistakes that can be corrected.”
He didn’t have it all his way though, Abbie Deken and KH Ambrose were on fire and it was a tense wait for scores as she chased him all the way, coming in second place, just one percent behind on 69.216.
“He was much more rideable today,” Deken says. “I was a bit disappointed with myself, I was off balance going into the one [time changes] but overall I’m happy with how we went – much more settled.”
All combinations will go through to tomorrow’s Freestyle, which, along with today’s Special, counts toward the coveted Dressage Horse of the Year title. At this point Thompson and the uber-experienced JHT Antonello have it in hand but if today is anything to go by, he won’t be letting his guard down until the scores are up.
The pair is looking for their qualifying scores toward the World Equestrian Games in Tryon next year and says there is great team spirit among all the Grand Prix competitors. “We’ve nearly got four of us cracking 70 [percent] and the camaraderie between all of us wanting a team for WEG is so cool.”
Waikato’s William Millar and Raukura Satori MH took third place (66.118) while Portuguese stallion Ali Baba and Jody Hartstone were just behind them for fourth.