British Charlotte Fry is on a roll. After sweeping the 2021 CDI Grote Brogel with Glamourdale two weeks ago, she continued her string of success at the 2021 CDIO Compiègne on Friday 28 May 2021, winning the 3* Grand Prix aboard Everdale.
Blessed Show Grounds
The 2021 CDIO Compiègne has been blessed with mild spring weather: nice sunshine and not too hot temperatures bless the show ground and re-confirm this highly celebrated international dressage competition in France as one of the best CDI's in the world. Year after year, Compiègne brings top level competition, perfect show conditions, and the best ambience, even behind locked doors because of the on-going corona pandemic.
The competition kicked off on Friday with the team championship tests for ponies, juniors and young riders in the B and C arena. However in the main stadium, a 3* Grand Prix was packed to the roof with 40 competitors. The class took all day with just short 10 minute breaks to drag the arena. There was barely a lunch to be had, although those minutes sufficed to stuff a quick French loaf of bread with local cured ham and cheeses in your face and provide anyone with the calorie bomb needed to survive the day. This is how I made it through the day.. and one Nespresso and two Perriers to stay hydrated.
Aside from the winner, the scores in today's Grand Prix were at a more realistic level instead of the inflated marks seen in the U.K., Hagen, and at other European shows the past two months. It was refreshing that for the majority of the class a more accurate scoring palette was used. (Let's see what happens tomorrow in the CDIO 5*. Brace yourself)
Fry Finishes First
This season Dutch based Charlote Fry has been on peak form with the three (!) Grand Prix horses. Glamourdale scooped up all trophies in Grote Brogel after making an impression at the CDI Hagen, Dark Legend won the GP Special at the CDI Exloo in May, and with Gert-Jan van Olst's 12-year old KWPN licensed stallion Everdale (by Lord Leatherdale x Negro) she won the Exloo Special. Today in Compieègne they held the favour of the judges and won the class with a very clean ride but generous score of 76.674%.
The 3* Grand Prix was judged by Maria Colliander (FIN), Susan Hoevenaars (AUS), Elke Ebert (GER), Annick Dauban (FRA) and Maarten van der Heijden (NED). They unanimously placed her first although opinions differed with Van der Heijden at a more realistic 74.022% and Hoevenaars slightly carried away with 78.478%.
The 25-year old Fry is an incredibly talented rider. The petite Brit masters the power and quality of her stallions tremendously and with Everdale produced a very strong ride here in France. They produced good trot extensions, big half passes and a solid rein back. In the passage the horse stays croup high and needs to move the hindlegs more under the body. The same can be said of the piaffe, which is always butt high and not really showing proper sit, while Fry does a good job getting a steady rhythm out of it. This issue of the horse not yet taking the weight from behind also prevailed in the pirouettes, which were correct but rather flat. The extended walk put sevens on the board, but collected walk was almost lateral (7 - 7.5!). The pair scored big notes in the canter work with a good zig zag and big one tempi changes. Fry produced a clean ride, but overall the horse is too tight in the neck and in the final piaffe at X he got really wide behind. It was probably the most fault-free and solid round of the day, but the 76.674% was a bit benevolent.
Vamos au Parque
Eight years after winning the European Young Riders Champion's title in Compiègne in 2013, Danish Cathrine Dufour returned to the equestrian park with Annabella Pidgley's 9-year old Westfalian gelding Vamos Amigos (by Vitalis x Hotline x Sandro Hit), her third Grand Prix horse in the barn.
The bright bay gelding is new at Grand Prix and has plenty of talent in store, but this young horse is still too hot to trot and has lots of inner tension. He is not always accepting the connection with the bit in the trot and pi-pa work. This lightness is more an evading of the contact. The gentle connection with the hand of the rider is much better in the canter work, in which the horse is more accepting the bit and taking the rider's hand. Vamos is super electric, which will certainly benefit him in a few years time with more maturity. He generates good overtrack in the trot extensions and good crossing in the half passes, but his body as tight as the strings of a bow. While the passage is impressive in being quick off the ground and light-footed, he needs to seek more connection with the bit. The piaffe is still problematic as he leans on his butt and gets wide in front. Dufour, however, beautifully guides her horse through the test with the utmost patience and a lot of feeling. The zig zag was good, the one tempi changes straight, but short and the pirouettes small but there could be more lift in front. Definitely one to watch for the future.
Today's score of 73.435% was certainly plenty. The individual marks ranged between 72.065% and 74.891%.
Zack in Pursuit
Danish Nanna Skodborg Merrald is on a campaign to qualify herself as the third rider for the Danish Olympic team for Tokyo. Today she finished in third place on the 17-year old KWPN stallion Blue Hors Zack (by Rousseau x Jazz) with 73.174%. She also has a second iron in the fire, Atterupgaards Orthilia, with whom she won the silver medal at last weekend's Danish Grand Prix Championships (with a GP score of 73.860%).
Nanna really becomes Zack. The combination looks really nice, with her length and female body matching the powerful, muscled stallion. The horse does not have the best mouth and should be lighter in the contact, often tauting his lips and showing tongue, but the pair showed lovely movements together. The trot extensions were with scope, the half passes sweeping and the one tempi changes were the best of the day. In piaffe the horse stays quite timid in his steps and rhythm and today the passage was not entirely regular with the left hind leg trailing. There were also two small hiccups in the walk passage transition and canter strike off. Otherwise the score would certainly have been higher.
They received 73.174% from the judges with 71.739% as low score and 75.109% as high score.
Zonik Gets First MER score
This week Glock Horse Performance Centre announced that Hans Peter Minderhoud had taken over the ride on the 13-year old Danish warmblood stallion Zonik (by Zack x Romanov). Remarkably, without having competed at a single show, the Dutch equestrian federation has already nominated the pair on their long-list for Tokyo, before Compiegne; a questionable action that caused much frustration amongst Dutch riders who tamely fulfil the requirements, selection procedures and many show miles for the Dutch federation and do not get the same privileges.
Zonik is a proven Dutch team horse, under Edward Gal, having competed at the 2018 World Equestrian Games and 2019 European Championships. With Minderhoud, Zonik is now in full pursuit of its two required Minimum Eligibility Scores (MER) for Tokyo consideration. After Compiegne there are only a very few options left before the 20 June cut-off date to get that second MER score (e.g. Ornago, Le Mans, Achleiten).
In Compiègne the duo easily fulfilled their first MER of 66% by scoring 73.152% and placing fourth in the 3* Grand Prix. Hans Peter is known for riding his horses with a lot of energy and forward activity and he did exactly the same on Zonik. The pair showed big trot extensions, lovely half passes and the piaffes were well ridden on the spot, even though from a classical perspective the horse did not truly taking the weight behind as the hindlegs moved up and out from under the body. The extended walk had sufficient overtrack, but could have had even more ground cover and relaxation. In canter the horse tensed up in the back and lost the clear 3-beat rhythm. Throughout the test Minderhoud was visibly spurring the horse forwards, which Zonik often reciprocated with a sour look. The extended canter was uphill and the zig zag solid. The right pirouette was the best one. A mistake in the two tempi changes affected the total score.
Australian Lyndal Oatley returned to Compiègne for the first time since 2015, this time with her new heart horse Elvive, a 12-year old Dutch warmblood mare by Tuschinski x Don Schufro) which she has owned since 2017.
After winning a national Grand Prix with 76% and scoring a double victory at the CDI-W Mariakalnok at the beginning of May with two 73% score, the expectations were high. It has to be taken into consideration that this tall bay mare has very little ring mileage and it showed in a lot of tension and some big eyes in today's Grand Prix test. The extended trots were big, the half passes had huge overtrack but she was tilted in the one to the right. The extended walk had lots of overtrack, but there could be a better marching over the back. The second passage was hurried and the transitions into piaffe are still hectic, but the mare shows much potential in piaffe with very good lift, although the balance is still shaky as she does not put the front legs down vertically but in a declined angle. The one tempi changes were awesome, but the right pirouette still big. Ideally the mare should be ridden more off the curb bit. Oatley and Elvive scored a proper 71.457% for fifth place in a tough field of competitors.
Fiontini at Grand Prix
After winning a historic team bronze medal at the 2008 Hong Kong Olympics, Danish horse dealer Andreas Helgstrand has the horse power again for Olympic contention and he's been giving it his all this 2021 show season with the 11-year old Danish warmblood mare Fiontini (by Fassbender x Romanov) which Spaniard Severo Jurado Lopez steered to a triple victory at the World Young Horse Championships.
Helgstrand and Fiontini competed at the CDI Hagen last month where they earned 73.457% in the Grand Prix but had a less polished ride in the Special and still finished on 72.255%. At this second Danish Olympic observation trial in Compiègne the pair's performance was eagerly anticipated. There is no denying the ground quality and exceptional basic gaits of Fiontini. In the trot extensions she nicely moved with uphill tendency and had the poll as highest point, but was pulling in the contact. The right half pass was totally irregular, the left one much better in the rhythm. There was very good collection in the passage and in the first piaffe the mare really wanted to move with uphill tendency but the rhythm should improve. The second piaffe-passage combination was better. There was a double beat at the start of the two tempi changes, the extended canter was good, but the canter stride was lost in the right pirouette. The biggest issue of the test was the very strong bridle contact. Fiontini is not equally elastic on both reins and the rider's right hand is pulling constantly, which results in a gaping mouth. The final centerline was lovely in the rhythm. Fiontini certainly has the quality, but there needs to be more lightness for a more pleasing silhouette. They scored 71.218% for sixth place.
The Best of the Rest
Fiontini's former rider Severo Jurado Lopez is back in the international Grand Prix arena aboard Gert-Jan van Olst's 11-year old KWPN gelding Fendi T (by Negro x Lester), previously shown by Charlotte Fry. The horse is certainly gifted but there was a lot of tension in today's ride. There was a good halt at entry but the half pass right was too passagey and in the left one the hindquarters trailed. The nose was constantly behind the vertical and the horse tight in the neck. In the extended walk the horse did not stretch the nose out. The two tempi changes were good, the extended canter uphill, the pirouettes good and the ones ok. The piaffe is still problematic with the horse leaning on the forehand and getting wide. They finished seventh with 71.109%.
Swedish Antonia Ramel presented her second horse Curiosity, a 11-year old Holsteiner gelding by Clinsmann x Carpaccio, with whom she finished 8th on 70.913%. The pair got good marks for the halt, half passes and collected walk. The piaffe was solid, but the zig zag needed to be more tidy.
British Laura Tomlinson has a new star horse in the 11-year old Bavarian bred mare Rose of Bavaria (by Bordeaux x Florestan) but the pair has not yet found the key to consistency in their performance. They made their international GP debut in November 2019 and their scores have been steadily climbing towards the 73 - 74% internationally. In Compiègne they dropped back to 70.783% with 68.587% as low score and 72.935% as high score. Rose of Bavaria is a top class horse with a super passage, but today the piaffe had some backstepping and there was a mistake in the two's. However it was the far from ideal contact that significantly pushed the score down. The horse was gaping throughout and even had the tongue lolling out in the half pass right. The silhouette would improve if the back-wards working hand would stay quiet on the withers and was more forward thinking. Rematch tomorrow!
British evergreen Richard Davison and his 16-year old home bred KWPN gelding Bubblingh (by Lingh x Picandt) had a lovely test and stayed shy of 71% with a 70.413% for 10th place. The horse today showed very nice half passes, a good rein back, a first piaffe ridden on the spot, although the balance could be better with the frontleg stepping down vertically. The extended walk needed to have more V-moment in the rhythm and the collected walk came close to being lateral. There was a mistake in the ones. Overall, Richard had Bubblingh nicely in the contact and up in the frame.
-- Text and Photos by Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED