One of those winning riders has her own special place in 2019 - Olympian Ricky MacMillan and her horse Crisp still hold the Sydney CDI GP Freestyle records, from 2004 (75.27%) and 2005 (74.70%).
Crisp, who seemed to own the centre line, died in 2016 at the age 28, and this year Ricky will be President of the Ground Jury, joining an elite club who have transitioned from Olympic rider to FEI 4* Judge… and always an amateur owner rider. Now, that really gives us all hope!!!!
The Indoor arena at SIEC creates an atmosphere like no other – a full house with packed standing room looks down on horse and rider entering to a buzz just settling as the last score is heralded by the trumpet peal indicating a winner – so far… In Ricky’s words:
“Saturday at the Sydney CDI is always special - the freestyle music from other competitions can be heard in the stables during the day, but Crisp always knew his freestyle would be later in the evening. He would fidget while being saddled and expect his favourite treats - mandarins and bananas.
“At the time, I rode a difficult program. About one minute into the freestyle, I rode a piaffe pirouette to the left, one handed, on the centreline, three metres in from G, right in the middle of the five judges. No room for error, it had to be well balanced and precisely placed. In the Sydney indoor arena, that also meant being right in front of the tiered VIP area, where a sit-down dinner was being served.
“As I started the piaffe, there was a rustle as some in the standing room started softly clapping. As I held my breath, Crisp looked up, pricking his ears for just a moment and, as I felt him breath deeply, he calmly flexed his haunches even more, and got back to work, completing the pirouette as the clapping continued. I kept the pirouette very small around the inside hind leg, much smaller than I had ever dared before!
“There was a 9 on Stephen Clarke’s sheet, and he said later that the hair on the back of his neck stood up. For myself, after that first moment, I felt a profound sense of trust in my horse, and the rest of the test just flowed - it was a special night.”
Mary Seefried, FEI 5* judge, was judging at H and remembers:
“How perfectly the music and the choreography synchronized that night. Crisp and Ricky were on song, and it came together in a magical whole - controlled yet artistic, Ricky and Crisp enjoying every moment. The crowd was also following the performance intently - like in a theatre - and broke into enthusiastic applause at the final halt, almost not wanting it to finish…”
This year's OTTO SPORT AUSTRALIA Sydney CDI will feature competitions spanning levels from Advanced to Grand Prix, attracting top riders from around Australia. Included in the line-up are CDI 3*, CDI-U25 (for riders under 25 competing at Grand Prix level), CDI-Y for Young Riders 16 to 21 years, CDI-P (International Pony) for riders aged 12-16 years and for the first time, a CDI-J for Junior riders aged between 14 and 18 years. The Kohnke’s Own Young Horse Championships will also be decided, with a special guest rider providing commentary on the finalists.
Tickets for the event are on sale and seats for the ever-popular Saturday evening Grand Prix Freestyle to Music event are selling out fast. For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, visit the event website at: www.sydneycdi.com
Information on OTTO SPORT AUSTRALIA: http://www.bsmsportequestrian.com.au/ottosport/