New Zealand rider scores ‘emotional’ personal best as nation fields first dressage World Championship team in 24 years

  • Melissa Galloway scored a new personal best on her senior championship debut to strengthen New Zealand’s hopes in the nation’s first team appearance at a World Dressage Championships in 24 years.

    Melissa and Windermere J’Obei W were second into the arena on day two of the team competition at Blue Hors FEI World Dressage Championships in Herning (Sunday, 7 August), scoring 70.98% in the grand prix.

    “I’ve had him since he was a rising two-year-old and we have just done everything together,” said Melissa, 29, who owns the Johnson TN gelding with Anne and Rodney Parkes.

    “We’ve won a few championships in New Zealand and have slowly built our way up through the grades together. It makes me a bit emotional. It’s crazy to be here and I’m overwhelmed, actually.”

    The bouncy 12-year-old chestnut set the tone with a solid start, springing comfortably through the trot half-pass and showing off his huge, elastic walk. The pair kept their cool through a minor blip in the canter strike off and from here on, the duo showed some of their best work. Their neat changes were a highlight, rewarded with 7.5s by the judges, and their final trot work upped a gear in power and activity.

    The huge smile that grew on Melissa’s face as she soaked in the atmosphere and the achievement after finishing her test spoke more than words.

    “I’m so happy with him, he was amazing,” she said, her voice choking with emotion after her test.

    “He just felt so easy and peaceful and it was such a nice feeling. I was really happy with all of it, I felt an overall peace and harmony with him, I thought ‘it’s all good, he is in tune with me’.”

    New Zealand last fielded a dressage World Championship team in 1998 and Melissa spoke of the significance of what it means to be riding as part of a squad in Denmark.

    “It’s the best,” she said. “The whole team spirit, being able to do that for our country and actually to think about what we are doing for the future – for other young people that want to be on a team, I just think it is amazing.”

    There was an anxious moment earlier in the week when the side’s third horse, Jax Johnson ridden by Gaylene Lennard, was not presented at the initial trot-up. They had the opportunity to present yesterday (Saturday) morning instead, and passed.

    “Everyone is so supportive of each other,” said Melissa, adding they are “so excited” to watch Gaylene compete later today.

    Japan’s Shingo Hayashi kicked off the second day with his Tokyo Olympic ride Scolari 4, scoring 67.87% in the World Dressage Championships results.

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