Louisa Hill sets the pace in the dressage oval

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Horse Of The Year

Louisa Hill met crowd expectations today, convincingly taking the win in the FEI Grand Prix dressage title class at Horse of the Year, with a score of 68.61%. Hill (Clevedon) and her starry Bates Antonello had the crowd in awe as they pulled off the test of the day, with their trademark passage and piaffe wowing all those watching – including the judges.

International judge Mary Seefried (Aus) said Hill offered plenty of expressive work, particularly in the canter, creating a lot of energy and impulsion. In her third visit to New Zealand as a HOY Judge, Seefried sees a definite improvement in the overall quality of horses she is judging. For Hill, today’s score on the back of yesterday’s 68.68% is reassurance that she is on the right path for the London Olympics, where she is the sole New Zealand dressage rider to have met the NZ qualification criteria so far.

Taking second spot to Hill today was Nicky Pope (Whitford) and Fabarchie. Pope was one of the four team members who travelled to Australia last year, making history in earning New Zealand the right to field its first team at the London Olympics. Today’s test marked a personal milestone for Pope, in her battle to break the 63% barrier, with a final score of 64.48%. “I’m absolutely thrilled with him,” she said. “My game plan today was to ask for a little more of him and he delivered.”

The result is even more rewarding given that Pope had to retire from the class at the past two Horse of the Year Shows, with Fabarchie reacting strongly to the atmosphere and ‘losing the plot’. “I think a lot of it comes down the experience of going abroad with him. He felt really relaxed today and there’s still plenty more in the tank.” Absent from HOY this year are Vanessa Way (Taranaki) and Jody Hartstone (Raglan), both currently based in the United Kingdom with the aim of qualifying for London.

Horse of the Year CDI*** FEI Grand Prix (title):

1: Louisa Hill, Bates Antonello, 68.61%; 2. Nicky Pope, Fabarchie, 64.48%; 3. Bill Noble, Airthrey Highlander, 61.83%; 4. Hannah Appleton, Fiber Fresh Zactac, 61.78%; 5. Christine Weal, Spielzeit, 60.38%; 6. Debbie Barke, Mzungu, 58.80%