Wendi Williamson Rides Dejavu MH to World Cup Pacific/Asia League Final Victory to Become 1st New Zealander to Ever Earn Start at Final
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FEILDING, New Zealand, Feb. 4, 2017–Wendi Williamson rode her Dejavu MH to victory with a personal best Grand Prix Freestyle score to win the World Cup Pacific/Asia League final Saturday night and become the first New Zealand rider to qualify for the global championship in 32 years of the event.
The 45-year-old rider on the New Zealand-bred Hanoverian gelding (De Niro x Anamour) scored 75.725 per cent that surpassed their previous high of 73.675 set in Hastings a year ago to earn an invitation to the World Cup Final in Omaha in the American heartland at the end of March.
John Thompson and JHT Antonello, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, were second on 73.700 per cent, just 0.100 per cent shy of their personal best.
Vanessa Way on NRM Arawn also logged a personal best score of 71.000 per cent on her 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding to place third.
Missing from the competition was Julie Brougham whose Vom Feinsten, 14-year-old Rhinelander gelding was injured days before. The pair was the sole Kiwi representative at the 2016 Olympics and hold the Australasian Freestyle record of 76.300 per cent.
All combinations in the league final were from New Zealand as no Australians took part.
But Kristy Oatley, a four-time Olympian for Australia and based in Germany, is seeking to qualify in the Western European League where she is ranked No. 4 with just three more events scheduled. If invited, it would be her third Final
Wendi and the 12-year-old Dejavu, who won the Grand Prix Friday, competed in the horse’s first Big Tour exactly a year ago, and have never competed outside New Zealand. If Wendi decides to go to Omaha, Dejavu will fly 30 hours for the 11,500 miles/18,510km to Amsterdam to connect with a chartered flight of dressage and jumper horses for almost another 10 hours for the trans-Atlantic leg of 4,450 miles/7,160km.
A total of up to 18 combinations can start in the only annual world championship in dressage based on the freestyle with nine from Western Europe, two each from Central Europe and North America, the titleholder that this year is Hans Peter Minderhoud of the Netherlands, one from the Pacific/Asia League and the others wild cards.
Pacific/Asia is the only one of the four geographic leagues–Western Europe, Central Europe and North America are the others–to hold a regional final, a decision made by the PAL federation countries of Australia and New Zealand. Western and Central Europe qualification is based on points from the four best finishes while North America applies the average of the top two scores.