The 2019 outdoor competition season has officially kicked off at the CDI Nieuw en St. Joosland which is located at Equestrian Centre de Kroo in a small town on the Zeeland island in The Netherlands. Swedish Malin Wahlkamp-Nilsson edged out Belgian Laurence Roos in the Grand Prix which took place on Thursday 11 April 2019.
The CDI Nieuw en St. Joosland has been a fixture on the FEI calendar for the past few years and draws a massive field of competitors from pony level to Grand Prix. Always hosted the first weekend of April, the weather at the time is not so predictable but competitors can be sure of one thing: it will windy ! With the North Sea not far off and massive cargo ships sailing the Easther Scheldt, a major river leading to the Antwerp harbour, but hidden by an ocean of grass, Nieuw en St. Joosland is a picturesque Dutch farmer and fishermen's town that normally attracts little attention.
This year the Grand Prix was set in the most beautiful sunny weather. The sun shone brightly all day long but in the afternoon a chilly wind picked up and it made spectators freeze to their seats. The flags flying disturbed the concentration of some horses but overall the Grand Prix with its 35 entries was fortunately quite eventless.
The battle for the victory turned out to be Swedish-Belgian affair. Swedish Malin Wahlkamp-Nilsson overtook Belgian team rider Laurence Roos with a marginal point difference. The judges panel, which included Lehrmann, De Wolff van Westerrode, Halsall, Schwennesen and Baarup, was fairly unanimous in their scores on the winning ride, but Laurence Roos' marks had a 6% point difference between the five judges.
Malin and Masahiro Kosaka's 10-year old Dutch warmblood gelding Eddieni (by Johnson x Negro) topped the board with 72.043% (marks ranging from 70.109% - 73.370%). The chestnut Eddieni is such a sympathetic horse to watch. Ears often forward, a nice little Dutch pinch of knee action to the ingredients, and four white stockings make the gelding an eye catcher. His "Dutchness" is his strength but also his weakness. The horse knows how to pick up its legs, is uphill in the tempi changes, has a nice side silhouette in piaffe and passage and is an eager worker. but because of all this upward power, ridden in collection, he lacks stretch in the frame which limits his scope in the walk, trot and canter extensions. The professional rider Nilsson does a good job on the gelding and rides him with much feeling. While in piaffe and passage he still needs to learn to take more weight on the hindquarters, the rider waited patiently not to disturb the horse's rhythm.
Belgian Laurence Roos and her 14-year old Belgian warmblood Fil Rouge (by Stedinger x Argentinus) had the best starting position as last rider to go in the Grand Prix. Trained by Jeroen Devroe, the combination is known for its accurate test riding and strong trot extensions. While the bay gelding could have been a bit softer in the contact with less curb, Fil Rouge produced very nice tempi changes and is overall smooth from movement to movement. They lost their victory when the horse made an unscripted flying change in the extended canter. In the big Joosland field of professional riders, Roos is a dentist by profession but has been a steady member of the Belgian team at major championships since 2017. In 2016 she represented Belgium at the inaugural European Under 25 Championships.
Marlies van Baalen and the 13-year old Dutch warmblood Ben Johnson (by Johnson x Ferro) slotted in third with 71.217%. The sympathetic bay gelding was one of three Johnson offspring placing in the top five of the Joosland Grand Prix! Like Eddienie also this compact horse is very expressive in front and has a beautiful side silhouette, but the lengthening in the body could be better. This shows in the rather limited extended walk and the collected walk that appeared slightly short-long. The horse does have a lovely sit in piaffe, but gets narrow in front. A mistake in the one tempi changes pushed the score down.
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