NEW ZEALAND (by Sally Reid) The gorgeous German-bred gelding Vom Feinsten (Fidermark - Wellcome x Weltmeyer) and his very proud owner-rider Julie Brougham became the 2018 winners of New Zealand’s coveted Burkner Medal. Their performance at the National Dressage Championships in Feilding has also earned them eligibility for this year’s World Equestrian Games in Tryon.

The championships were held during February, with the Grand Prix as a qualifier, followed by the Special and Freestyle for the deciding marks. Judges included Eddy De Wolff van Westerodde (FEI5*) of the Netherlands and Elke Ebert (FEI4*) of Germany.

The Burkner was a close-run class between Vom Feinsten and John Thompson’s always excellent Anamour gelding, JHT Antonello (Anamour - Flair x Winnebago), with Vom Feinsten winning the qualifier, Antonello claiming victor y in the Special, and ‘Steiny’ taking the win in the Freestyle.

Vom Feinsten and Brougham were New Zealand’s representatives at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where they produced this country’s best Olympic dressage score to date. They’ve scored an impressive list of wins here, including 2015 NZ Dressage Horse of the Year, and also competed successfully in Australia, but have never before won this major New Zealand award.

The 15-year-old Steiny was bred by Rudi Henn of Simmerath in Germany, Brougham during a visit to Ton de Ridder’s stables in Aachen. His bloodlines are regal: his dam, Wellcome, is a Staatsprämie mare and his sire, Fidermark I (Florestan x Werther x Einblick), is well- known in Europe. This stunning liver-chestnut stallion won his performance test at Warendorf in 1995, and in 1996 won the four-year-old Bundeschampionate title. He has sired a number of approved sons, including Fürst Piccolo and Fein Sinn – whose name made Brougham’s ears prick up when she went shopping for a new dressage horse at Ton de Ridder’s and heard about Steiny. Vom Feinsten is chest- nut too, though not liver like his father. He has enormous presence and is very expressive, excelling at canter pirouettes and extended trot.

It’s sad for NZ breeding that such a fabulous talent was gelded. Originally ear- marked as a stallion prospect in Germany, had he been a little less unruly, he would no doubt have remained entire. It was only a week or so after his castration when Broug- ham first rode him, struggling with his boiling-hot temperament for the two years it took for him to calm down, but says that once the hormones were out of his system, he progressed ‘flat out’. These days he adores strut- ting in front of a crowd and is a great favourite among dressage spectators here, especially in the Freestyle, for which he holds the Australasian record with a score of 76.025%...