PHOTO: DEREK O’LEARY
SUPPORTING OUR YOUNG DRESSAGE RIDERS SINCE 1988
Equestrian Victoria is proud to promote competition for young riders, specifically with the Victorian Youth Dressage Championships.
In 1998 the Australian Young Rider Dressage Squad was formed with the assistance of a number of people passionately interested in establishing the future of dressage in Australia led by Equestrian Australia Honorary Life Member Mrs. Wanda Nelson.
Under Wanda’s chairmanship, the first Victorian Young Rider and Pony Dressage Championships took place in 2002. This event was so successful that, in 2003, the EFA Stablemaster National Young Rider and Pony Dressage Championships took place at Werribee, directed by Lady Susannah Clarke and assisted by a very experienced committee. Incorporated into this event was the IRT Pacific Challenge in which teams from Australia, New Zealand, USA, South Africa and Japan competed on borrowed horses. It was tremendously exciting to host the overseas riders and their support crew. The event was of a very high standard with Australia winning the Team medal, silver went to the United States of America and bronze to New Zealand.
The individual winner was Brett Davey, riding Mighty Heights and second went to Sara Price and APH Spiegel. Amanda Goldsworthy from New Zealand was third on Sieber. Competition in the national classes was also intense with great scores being achieved. The most striking feature of the event was the atmosphere of friendliness and cooperation encountered everywhere. At the 2003 Championships a number of special awards and classes were established. Tim Stewart and Associates sponsored a special Thoroughbred class to increase the profile of thoroughbreds “off the track” and their suitability for young dressage riders. The inaugural class was won by now international three day event rider and Elite Squad member Katja Weiman on Romper Stomper. The inaugural Zarina Perpetual Trophy for Advanced Champion, in memory of Mrs. Wanda Nelson’s mare was won by Elizabeth Hunt. The Macedon Ranges Dressage Club Encouragement Award was won by Morgan Bennett and the Briana Judge Memorial Trophy for the highest placed EFA and PCAV member was won by Briana’s friend and fellow Pony Club member Joanna Clarke.
The 2004 Stablemaster Victorian Young Rider and Pony Dressage Championships took place under the direction of Mrs. Jackie Woodhead, with the assistance of Lady Clarke and a not-so-experienced committee. Again the event was a supremely successful one, profiling the very high standard of riding achieved by our young riders. The event was again run in a spirit of friendliness and helpfulness by all involved.
In 2005, the EFA Legend Australia National Young Rider and Pony Dressage Championships continued the tradition and Legend Australia again were the naming rights sponsor of the 2006 Victorian Young Rider and Pony Dressage Championships. Victoria hosted the 2007 Horse & Rider National Young Rider and Pony Dressage Championships.
2008 saw the beginning of a remarkable partnership between the event and arguably the most generous sponsors of dressage for Young Riders with the advent of the Hamag era. Hamish and Maggie McDonell, who founded the totally Australian leather goods company Hamag, from their property at Wollert, Victoria, generously supported both the Hamag Young Rider Dressage Squad and the 2008 Australian Young Rider and Pony Dressage Championships, the 2009 & 2010 Hamag Equestrian Victoria Young Rider Festival (which saw the introduction of Young Rider Jumping Championships to the program) and the 2011 Hamag Australian Young Rider and Junior Rider Dressage Championships. The 2012 and 2013 Hamag Victorian Young Rider Dressage Championships brought to a close this wonderful partnership but young riders will be forever grateful for the support of Hamish and Maggie.
2014 saw a slight downturn in the popularity of the event and a number of parents of former young riders and other experienced people rose to the occasion and ran the 2015 NCIS Australian Young Rider Dressage Championships which incorporated international classes at CDI-Y & CDI U25 Grand Prix. The event has gathered some very significant “special awards” over the years and more information can be found at vydc.org.au/special-awards/
The 2016 Equestrian Sports Insurance Victorian Young Rider Dressage Championships was held at the traditional time of the April school holidays at Werribee Park but new opportunities for a move of date and venue arose and the 2017 Ellanbrae Park Victorian Youth Dressage Championships will be held at Boneo Park on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula in January. Strategically placed the weekend before the Boneo Classic (a prestigious international dressage and jumping event) it gives young riders the opportunity to compete at national level then move up to international level across a range of tests. 2017 also saw the introduction of Interschool classes and a great partnership with the iconic Toorak College. Interschool equestrian sport is fast becoming the preferred entry point to official competition and gives young interschool riders the chance to compete alongside those competing up to the highest level. The Championships also promote the FEI tests for Pony, Junior and Young Riders and the under 25 Grand Prix, great stepping-stones to open events, State and National Dressage Squads.
The generous sponsorship from Ellanbrae Park, a leading breeder of performance horses using international bloodlines, continued for both the 2018 Australian Youth Dressage Championships and the 2019 Victorian Youth Dressage Championships. Both events saw record entries and further established the January date and our relationship with Boneo Park.
The 2020 Victorian Youth Dressage Championships attracted a new naming rights sponsor, leading building company, 2Construct and Director, Duncan McPherson OAM. Together with our band of loyal sponsors and supporters, the 2020 event again was a wonderful success. With the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic destroying life as we knew it, Boneo Park itself stepped in and ran the 2021 2Construct Victorian Youth Dressage Championships and continued the tradition of providing a top quality event while adding their name to the proud history of the Championships.