Power Horses Prevail in 6-year old Preliminary Test at the 2021 World Young Horse Championships

Thu, 08/26/2021 - 00:35
2021 World Young Horse Championships
Charlotte Fry and Kjento at the 2021 World Young Horse Championships :: Photo © Astrid Appels

The 2021 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses started today 25 August 2021 at the Hanoverian headquarters in Verden, Germany, with the 6-year old preliminary test. While the judging was a bit puzzling to follow, the panel of four made a fairly agreeable top 12 to move on to the Finals on Saturday. Today's ground jury seemed to prefer power horses over the more modest yet more submissive ones.

KWPN's most popular young breeding stallion of the moment, Kjento, pushed for power in Verden and captured the first place in the preliminary test with whopping scores and a 94.00 point total. The Rhinelander breeding stallion Escamillo is in pursuit with 92.00 points, while Hanoverian breeding stallion Suarez posted 84.00 points for third place. 

Setting the Tone

The 6-year old preliminary test was the first of an action packed week at the 2021 WCYH in Verden. With the show grounds totally revamped and a bigger stadium arranged to give more "Championship" feel to the event, the show organizers has pulled out the stops to make an impression. Although the flower decorations were minimal to beautify the scenery, the more important conditions for the horses were ideal: good footing, big warm-ups, and the covid restricted amount of spectators was pushed further back from the ring.

Gregory Sims on Waverley Fellini
The sky was pretty overcast all day and while the morning was mild, in the afternoon a windy chill set in and you felt that autumn had arrived in Europe and summer flown away. The wind making the iron fences rattle around the arena did not seem to upset the horses. 

The ground jury for today's class consisted of Peter Storr (GBR), Adriaan Hamoen (NED), Sharon Rhode (RSA) and Jean-Michel Roudier (FRA) and the experienced panel seemed to struggle a bit to set the tone. They began with a high score for the first pair of the day, Gregory Sims on Waverley Fellini, and then had set to tone for the rest of their marks, seemingly making them struggle what to do with lesser moving horses, or better moving ones that had some submission issues. When the two power horses of the day entered the ring - Kjento and Escamillo - they had to fire up their scores to such heights, what you normally see in a generous Finals round, while the last group of horses were strongly assessed on submission and did not seem to get some of the scores they deserved. 

It was all a bit puzzling, even though the top 12 ranked horses were certainly high class and interested. Judging the 6-year old class is not so easy.. While in the 5-year olds you have all these spectacular young movers that are flown through the test to show off their big gaits, the 6-year olds require much more technical riding and submission as they need to perform the lateral movements and flying changes. The quality in general in a 6-year old division is lower than with the 5-year olds. So let's have a look at the interesting horses of the day. 

Kjento Wins

Fry and Kjento
Fresh from winning team bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, British Charlotte Fry is on a high this year raking in one personal best after another and going from highlight to highlight. It is no different at the World Young Horse Championships where she and Gert-Jan van Olst's KWPN stallion Kjento (by Negro x Jazz) were the favourites of the judges today. 

The black stallion has a mega powerful hindleg, stepping under, engaged and pushing hard. He has a long big arched neck and pretty face, forward thinking and going with his energy. Bred by A. van Os in The Netherlands, Kjento showed a trot that is mainly up and not so much lengthening out in front, i.e. Dutch breeding style. There is incredible spring in his step. In the half pass right he trailed in the hindquarters and overall was slightly hurried in the trot work, which was ground covering and active. The rein back had short steps. Although the overstep was always good, the medium walk had some tension, but that was filtered out in the extended walk in which there was a good V-moment in the rhythm. The medium canter had a lot of scope and was much off the ground, but in the regular striding the topline stayed quite horizontal. Especially in the left extension the three-beat rhythm could have been a bit more pronounced. The flying changes were big, but the end halt not immobile. Fry did an excellent job bolstering all this power and energy in the test. 

The panel had rave scores in store for Kjento:  8 for walk, 10 for trot and canter, 9.5 for submission and 9.5 for general impression (which they call "perspective"). They finished on an 94 points and this was just in the first round. 

Escamillo in Pursuit

Manuel Dominguez on Escamillo
While with Kjento you can see a Grand Prix future for sure, with the second place horse, Kimberly Davis-Slous' Rhinelander stallion Escamillo (by Escolar x Rohdiamant) one saw a very well trained young horse but whose longer back and softer mid-section could raise some doubts. Still, Escamillo has excellent gaits in which there is a very good differentiation between collection and extension. The stallion's attitude is not always set on dressage and more focused on the surrounding, screaming regularly in the test, even though he also had one ear pointed to his rider.

Spaniard Manuel Dominguez Bernal, who took on the ride on the testosterone fuelled Escamillo from his employer Helen Langehanenberg, rode the horse very forward with the trot always ridden in medium tempo. One wished to see a bit more collection overall in trot. The medium trot was an extended trot. There was a good rhythm in the shoulder in left. The medium walk was also an extended walk; a bit rushed and with the horse distracted. The nose needed to come more out and forward. The medium canter right was outstanding and stayed dead straight, as well as the flying changes. 

Bred by Carolin Langhorst from Gestut Tenterhof in Ratingen, Escamillo received 92.00 points with 8.4 for walk, 9.5 for trot, 9.6 for canter, 9 for submission and 9.5 for general impression. 

Suarez Third

Mette Sejbjerg Jensen on Suarez
The third ranked horse in the end was Danish Mette Sejbjerg Jensen on the Hanoverian stallion Suarez (by Sezuan x Desperados). Bred by Judith and Sönke Schmidt and owned by the WCYH title sponsor Helgstrand Dressage, the black stallion was presented right after Escamillo and Kjento and rode on their wave of high scores. 

Suarez is quite a compact stallion with a hindleg that always reaches under, but with big unflattering curbs on his hocks. He has a lovely big neck and expressive face, painting a lovely picture in front. The trot was forward and engaged from behind with good crossing in the half passes, in walk there was lots of overtrack and a good clarity of rhythm. Also in canter, the horse kept listening to his rider, always doing his best, but the first flying change was better than the second one. The end halt was very good. Suarez is a very functional mover, but overall was quite compressed in the frame and the topline never really elastically stretched forward into the hand. It would be nice to see the horse a fraction more open in the throatlatch in the next round. 

The judges loved him and rewarded the cute stallion with 84.00 points, quite far behind the two power movers at the top. He received 8 for walk, and 8.5 for trot, canter, submission and general impression. 

Top Five

Simone Pearce and Dancier Gold
Australian Simone Pearce and Gestut Sprehe's Hanoverian stallion Dancier Gold (by Dancier x Weltmeyer) finished fourth with the same amount of points as the third placed rider, 84.00.  Bred by Georg Strübig, Dancier Gold is another compact black stallion with a lot of cadence on trot, like Suarez. This stallion is a bit more floaty in the rhythm and although appearing light in the bridle, he needed to stretch more into the contact and be elastic in the top ine. One saw very little bending in the body on the half voltes and corners. The walk was good with two hooves overstep and a clear rhythm and in canter he was active and working with his rider, but lost the three beat rhythm in the medium canter and got croup high at times. He received 8.3 for walk, 8.5 for trot, 8.4 for canter, 8.3 for submission and 8.5 for general impression.

A very interesting horse ranked fifth and completed the top five in the preliminary test: For Magic. Bred by Friedhelm Kühnen in Germany and owned by Polish Sylwia Ruta's company Equesta, For Magic is a Hanoverian gelding by For Romance x A Jungle Prince. Ridden by German based Polish grand prix rider Beata Stremler, the liver chestnut showed a very scopy trot with much airtime in the rhythm. The half passes had a lot of crossing, the walk was big and clear and also in canter the horse gave a very solid impression, although the trot was the highlight. He finished fifth with 83.80 with an 8.8 for walk, 9 for trot, 7.8 for canter, 8 for submission and 8.3 for general impression.

Good Riding

Jessica Michel-Botton on Djembe de Hus
The question at the World Young Horse Championships is each year: should submission and classical dressage training get better rewarded instead of powerful and spectacular movements. What one often sees at these Championships are mega moving horses with legs flying all over the place, but a contact that is not perfect, or the ability to really swing relaxed through the back missing. 

French dressage rider Jessica Michel-Botton continues to present very well trained and classically well ridden dressage horses, year after year. Not all of them are the flashiest movers and maybe this year her Djembe de Hus underwhelms a bit in canter, but the darling chestnut (by Damon Hill x Argentinus) is such a lovely horse, so honest and through in the contact, and so well trained appropriate to his age. Not mechanic gaits from this chestnut with the long stockings. Bred and owned by Xavier Marie of Haras de Hus in Petit-Mars, France, Djembe de Hus is such a genuine, lovely horse with a soft and elegant trot, smooth traversal movements and a good clear walk. In canter he could move more uphill, but he showed the correct frame and level for a 6 year old. The judges placed him sixth with 83.60 points. He got 8 for walk, 8.5 for trot and canter, 8.8 for submission and 8 for general impression. 

Thalia Rockx on Koko Jr de la Fazenda
Dutch young rider Thalia Rockx won team gold and individual silver at the European Young Riders Championships in July and now saddled her father Johan Rockx' homebred KWPN mare Koko Jr de la Fazenda (by Toto Jr x Romanov). The bay mare's trot was not the most expansive but was very functional with a quick hindleg. The walk was clear with much overstep. In canter she could be a bit more supple over the back with a clearer 3-beat but she was very obedient, showed decent flying changes and overall it was just a lovely, well ridden test with a quiet bridle contact. They got 83.40 points with 8.8 for walk and trot, 7.7 for canter, 8.2 for submission and general impression. They were seventh. 

Who Else Caught Our Eye

The top 10 had more interesting horses that could easily have scored much higher.

For instance, the ninth placed Belgian warmblood horse Powerpoint de Tamise (by Dark President x Sandro Song) showed more quality than a Suarez, for instance, yet only got 8 for trot, canter and submission. The rein back was good, the flying changes well executed although the second change was crooked and the walk was outstanding (9).  Overall there could have been a bit more length in the neck. Ridden by German Andrea Winkeler, who got coached at the show by Miriam Henschke, and owned by Belgian Elisabeth Tepper, Powerpoint is bred by former Belgian young rider Kara Bosman.  He scored 82.40%

Germany's Lisa Horler also gave a taste of outstanding riding and training on Margit Eisner's Bavarian gelding Danny Cool (by Danciano de Malleret x Sandro Hit). The tall bay gelding is not yet the strongest in self carriage and balance, which for instance showed in the right shoulder-in, but he was always soft and supple in the contact, moved with great functionality for the future, and had a very nice medium walk with superb clarity in rhythm. He scored 82.20 for 10th place with 8.5 for walk and trot, 7.8 for canter, 8 for submission and 8.3 for general impression. Danny Cool is bred by Christine Sappl.

I like King van het Haarbosch, the KWPN stallion by Spielberg x Krack C, bred by L. van Aaken and owned by Gabrielle Rost. Under former European U25 champion Jeanine Nieuwenhuis the sympathetic bay stallion showed great rideability and temperament. In the half pass right there was a miscommunication and stepped outside of the arena with one leg. The walk was good quality but a bit hurried. Also in canter there could be less rushing, but the horse has three lovely paces and a great expression. He placed 12th with 81.20 points and got 8 for walk, canter and submission, 8.4 for trot and 8.2 for general impression. 

Joao Moreira on Furst Kennedy
Portuguese Joao Pedro Moreira and the Oldenburg stallion Furst Kennedy (by Fursten-Look x Don Kennedy) is a very attractive black stallion with a lot of ability to collect in trot, but he appeared a bit too passegey and lost the rhythm a bit in the half voltes and turns. Bred by Paul Schockemöhle and owned by Moreira in partnership with Roberto Pedrosa, Furst Kennedy had plenty of overtrack in the mediul walk. He scored 80.40 for 15th place with 8.2 for walk, 7.8 for trot, 8.5 for canter, 7.7 for submission and 8 for general impression. 

Femke de Laat's KWPN gelding Kind Pleasure (by Governor x Blue Hors Zack) is also one to watch for the future. He has a lot of upward spring, but needs to stretch more forward and lengthen the gait, something he is able to do as proven on the second medium trot diagonal, but overall the rider kept him too compressed in front, with a tongue coming out in front as a result. Kind Pleasure excelled in the cadence in the shoulder in, showed a clear walk, and a good canter, but the horse struggled with the changes today. He placed 15th too with 80.40 points. The bay gelding, bred by Wouter Plaizier, got 8 for walk, 8.5 for trot, 7.8 for canter and submision and 8.1 for general impression. 

Marieke van der Putten on Keano
A definite star for the future, and maybe one of the highest quality horses in the pack, is Saskia and Jacques Lemmens' KWPN stallion Keano (by Governor x Krack C), ridden by Marieke van der Putten. The top quality trot has incredible spring and elasticity, the walk had ok overtrack but could cover more ground, and the canter is springy and engaged, but the horse was not relaxed and obedient. He resisted in the halt at entry, the flying changes were tense and short and he spooked in the medium canter left and made an unscripted flying change. Van der Putten stayed calm, brought the horse back into trot to continue in the right canter lead again. Hopefully the bay stallion will be more settled in the consolation finals. Today he scored 80.20 points for 17th place with 7 for walk, 9 for trot, 8.7 for canter, 6.9 for submission and 8.5 for general impression. 

Italian Rocco di Pierro and Petra Wessels' Oldenburg gelding Bellissimo's Bob (by Belissimo Mx Delatio) rode a lovely test in which the horse's beautiful freedom in the shoulder in the trot stood out. Owned by the rider and his wife Marsha, Belissimo's Bob needed to show more bending in the corners and voltes. The walk was good, but could be clearer in the rhythm and in canter the horse was obedient, although one flying change was short behind. He scored 79.80 points for 19th place with 7.7 for walk, 8 for trot, 8.2 for canter, 7.8 for submission and 8.2 for general impression. 

Silje Bakken on Sweetnes
I would have liked to have seen slightly higher scores for Norwegian Silje Bakken on the Danish warmblood mare Sweetnes (by Blue Hors St. Schufro x Sir Lancelot M). Although the mare is a bit long and hollow in the back, she has a scopy trot. Also in the canter there was so much quality, but overall the nose was too tucked in and the mare needed to relax a bit more. She was 22nd with 79.40 points. 

The two Spanish riders brought lovely PRE horses to Verden and had to scrape for points. Pedro  Hernandez Trivino's bay Fuego TG (by Vetusto x Opium del Lago) showcased a scopy trot with a lovely frontleg, but often tilted a bit to the left. The walk was clear with sufficient overtrack in the medium and the canter was nice with the first change uphill, the second short behind. They did not get more than 77.20 points with 7.5 for trot and 7.7 for walk and canter. The small sized horses might look a bit petite compared to the big bulldozers at the top, but they were beautifully shown, correct and showed enough scope for their size.

Trapalo de Indalo
The same can be said of Alejandro Sanchez del Barco's grey PRE stallion Trapalo de Indalo (by Esbelto VII x Bandolero LXVII) who was so well presented with a steady contact. The trot was uphill oriented with a good rhythm and beautiful half passes. The rein back didn't come immediately, but the rider waited patiently for the horse to respond to his aids. The walk, which used to be a weak point of PRE's, was now ground covering and clear in the rhythm. The canter was solid, maybe not the biggest or most elastic, but the changes were good. Trapalo's score ground to a halt at just a mere 74.60 points with 8 for trot, 7 for walk and canter and just 7.8 for submission. Not enough!

The judges were probably on point with their score for Swiss Philine Brunner and the Danish warmblood gelding Gaston (by Grand Galaxy Win x Furstenball), but the horse was still an eye-catcher, especially in trot. The long-legged black had such an elegant silhouette, he was lightfooted and forward in trot, even though there was a break into canter in the medium trot and he tilted in the traversal movements. In canter he got a bit short behind and needed to jump more under for more supple striding in the gait. He was 25th with 78.60%. 

Photos © Astrid Appels - No Reproduction allowed
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Related Link
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2021 World Championships Young Dressage Horses