SINCE 1995 the Hamag Young Rider Festival has been a proving ground for competitive young equestrians.Conducted over four days at Werribee Park's National Equestrian Centre, the event has grown from grassroots to a prestigious national level show.
The Australian Para Equestrian Championships also were held there this year.
More than 400 riders competed in dressage with competitors aged 10 to 28 riding in levels ranging from novice to Olympic.
Lilah Nieuwland rode a lovely test to win the FEI Intermediate championship riders 21 to 28 on Rangemore Mikado, and Morgan Duell - who had a busy few days - won the junior FEI championship on Florinzz, following it up with a well-constructed freestyle win on the same horse.
There was only one starter in the Pony FEI test, but Chloe Ritchie's Blue Dust Chardonnay's score of 62.95would have placed him in the big horse event.
It was good to see special classes for Thoroughbred horses on the program.
One class was won by Jordon Smith's Corona Gold, by the American horse Made of Gold, with an excellent score of more than 70 per cent. The other was won by Amy Lynch's Animal Co, by Carry the Crown.
The champions in the open novice sections had a real trek to make it to the show where the Young Rider novice champion was Abbie Obrien's Rajah's Rave from Tasmania and the Junior novice champion was Rebecca Apel's Diamontina, which made Rebecca's trip from Queensland well worthwhile.
Equestrian Australia sponsored the classes for Para-Equestrian riders vying for a position on the Olympic Equestrian team.
The Grade one A went to NSW rider Rob Oakley on Statford Mantovani. The Grade one B went to Victorian Joanne Formosa on Worldwide PB.
South Australia's Grace Bowman won the Grade two riding Kirby Park Joy and Queenslander Chelsea Higgins rode Holstein Park Comedian to win the Grade three class.