The Longines FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses at Ermelo in the Netherlands marked a watershed moment for Australian dressage.
26-year-old Simone Pearce became the first Australian rider to win a qualifying test at the prestigious event with Feodoro in the six-year-old class. He wooed the judges in the preliminary test with his impressive walk and scored a perfect 10 for that gait.
“I think the weekend was a very exciting step forward for Australian dressage in terms of global recognition and respect within the sport. Getting these great scores and finishing at the top of the world ranking has set a much higher standard for all Australians competing internationally,” said Pearce.
Her fellow Australian rider Briana Burgess also qualified prominently in the six-year-old class landing in fourth position on the Mary and Rob Hanna owned Gerion.
“I was super happy with ‘Gerri’. He gave me everything he had to offer on both days and also handled the atmosphere in a very good way. He is a fantastic horse,” said Burgess.
“Naturally a big thank you to Mary and Rob Hanna who have entrusted me to train and develop him since he was a four-year-old and it’s so rewarding to have it come together in this way.”
Both Pearce and Gerion finished 7th and 8th in the six-year-old final on Sunday.
Simone Pearce who rides for Helgstrand Dressage based in Denmark was also campaigning her five-year-old bay mare Casablanca at the World Breeding Dressage Championships across the weekend and enjoyed great results with her in the arena.
Casablanca placed fourth in the five-year-old qualifier after scoring a perfect 10 for her extravagant trot and held fourth spot in the final stage on Sunday.
It was an outstanding effort by both riders to finish in the top 10.
“We had a fantastic weekend for Australian Dressage. It definitely shook up the whole place having two Aussies in the top spots after the first round of the six-year-olds,” said Burgess.
“Simone Pearce is such a good professional and Australia can now be proud that we have riders that can produce horses to this level. I hope the championships in Ermelo encourage Australians to dream big and continue to engage in our wonderful sport,” she added.
Rebecca Rooke also represented Australia at the weekend with commendable performances aboard Muschamp Royal Black.
The performances of these three young riders was a hugely positive turning point for Australian dressage.
“It was a wonderful group of riders all proud to represent their country. If this is what the future of Australian dressage looks like then I think future is looking very bright,” said Pearce.
Simone Pearce’s proud father Chris, himself a highly accomplished and respected Australian based jumping rider and Equestrian Australia Member said:
“What happened at the weekend opens the door for a lot of other young people in the sport and proves to them that if you’ve got the will you can do it,” said Pearce.
“I am very proud of my daughter and what she’s contributing to the future of Australian dressage.”