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Jamaica progress in dressage challenge

In an impressive display, Jonathon Vaz, Julian Hyde and Chrystal Peter won the Jamaican leg of the children and adult sections, respectively, of this year's FEI World Dressage Challenge, held last Saturday at the Kingston Polo Club and Equestrian Centre, Caymanas Estates.

Vaz, a 13-year-old student at Hillel Academy, won his first major championship - competing in the children's preliminary section of the international test - in fine style against a very competitive field.

Riding Shabba Ranks, Vaz amassed 62.5 per cent to better Shelby Wildish aboard Comet on 60.8 per cent and the more experienced Jason Walter on Camelot with 59.8 per cent.

Keenly contested

He was a study in concentration, putting his horse through a pre-determined course of movements in the ring. Wildish also competed aboard Matrix, claiming fourth spot. Kelly Nunes finished fifth riding Tsunami, while Adam Lake on Alex rounded out the field, claiming sixth spot.

Riding out of the St Ann Polo Club and Equestrian Centre and guided by coach Yvonne Melville, Jonathon appears to be following in the footsteps of his highly ranked 16-year-old brother, Justin, who dominated this competition in his three years of eligibility and is currently competing as an adult at the WEF (Winter Equestrian Festival) in Wellington, Florida.

In the exciting preliminary adult class, which was keenly contested, Julian Hyde barely outlasted the field on Captain Bligh.

Hyde, son of former national footballer Lenworth Hyde Sr, continued where he left off as a former children and junior champion to score 63.5 per cent on the test, while Susan Wates on Miss Fran finished second at 63.3 pre cent and Brianna Schwapp third on 62.8 per cent.

Chrystal Peter on Camelot was the only competitor in the elementary class adults, scoring 62 per cent.

Defending champions

The next leg of the FEI Challenge is scheduled for Trinidad later this month, before moving to Barbados for the final leg. Prior to the Jamaica leg, competition embraced Bermuda, Haiti and Cayman.

After four rounds, defending champions Bermuda are leaders with a 64.76 average, followed by Jamaica with 62.32, Cayman Islands 60.4 and Haiti 54.2.

As is customary in each territory, two visiting FEI judges from Colombia and Finland, Dr Raul Crux Patlacio and Anders Sucksdoff, respectively, presided over the day's activities.

The FEI has, for many years, been running a programme called the FEI World Dressage Challenge. This is a development programme aimed specifically at developing national federations (NFs).

The competition currently has just over 50 NFs competing, which are divided into 11 geographical zones, made up of between four and six countries per zone.

- Orville Clarke