Husband and Wife Helgstrand Stake their Claim in 7-YO Preliminary Test at 2021 World Young Horse Championships

Fri, 08/27/2021 - 23:30
2021 World Young Horse Championships
Andreas Helgstrand and Jovian won the 7-year old preliminary test at the 2021 World Young Horse Championships in Verden :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Danish horse dealer Andreas Helgstrand and his wife Marianne Yde Helgstrand staked their claim at the top of the leaderboard in the 7-year old preliminary test at the 2021 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany, on Friday 27 August 2021. 

Today's 7-year old class saw 2019 World Young Horse Champion Jovian return to the arena to compete for a second, consecutive World title. The power horse thrilled the judges and got the highest score of the day, while stable mate Elverhojs Raccolto was put into second place. Gestut Sprehe's Quando Unico broke Helgstrand's total grasp on the top five by ranking third. 

Autumn in August

The 2021 edition of the World Young Horse Championships returned to its original grounds at the Hanoverian headquarters in the small town of Verden, Germany, after a four-year layover in Ermelo, The Netherlands, and one cancellation due to Covid-19 in 2020.

The organisation supersized the main stadium, creating more room around the arena to raise a bigger grandstand for spectators (although only 500 tickets per day were allowed to be sold), a huge VIP tent for the sponsors and their entourage, tents on the short side for the press to take shelter from the sun or rain and the rider teams to stand in as kiss-and-cry corner. There was a lot of attention to detail to make it convenient for all and that is German gründlichtkeit (thoroughness). Bravo! I will not complain about the lack of flower decorations, maybe I'm just obsessed by it. 

Pouring rain today in Verden
While the first three days for the horse inspection and arena familiarisation, as well as the 5 and 6-year old preliminary tests, were blessed with clear mild weather, today the floodgates opened and the weather gods announced that autumn has arrived in August.  The first few horses had dry conditions to compete it, then it started to drizzle and half way through the class it began to pour. Some riders rode in a torrential downpour and it was commendable that most horses remained unfazed by these malign weather conditions.

By the end of the 7-year old preliminary test even the excellent footing could not drain the water away quickly and when the prize giving took place the arena glistened like a mirror with all the water lying on top. 

Hail to Helgstrand 

Helgstrand trailered a truck full of young horses to Verden, competing for several nations such as Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden, while his clients were also well represented in the event, of which he is the class and title sponsor. In the 5-year old division his horses were able to make their presence count with two favourites for the medals. In the 6-year old age category it's open field with only Suarez making a push for power. In the 7-year old division, however, he's wielding the axe of power with his quality horses and the judges eagerly reward that quality no matter the accuracy in riding or presentation. 

Andreas and Jovian
The judges' panel for the 7-year old preliminary test includes experienced international judges Isabelle Judet (FRA) , Kurt Christensen (DEN), Ulrike Nivelle (GER), Mariette Sanders van Gansewinkel, and Annette Fransen Iacobaeus (SWE). The former and later sat on the long side and assessed the technical qualities of the rider, while the middle three judges looked at the quality of gaits, submission and perspective. 

As penultimate combination to go, Andreas Helgstrand and his gigantic KWPN stallion Jovian (by Apache x Tango) were the measure of all things today. The dark bay stallion, owned by Norwegian Grand Prix rider Cathrine Rasmussen in partnership with the rider, is such a ground covering and strong mover that he only needs a few strides to cross the 60 meter distance from one side to other. He's such a massive mover with a trot that can not be pictures better. In the right volte he lost the balance a bit as he needed to shorten the strides, but overall the trot work was very impressive and the lateral movements flowed. In walk, the stallion does not impress so much. The collected walk was clear in rhythm but a tiny bit shorter with the left hind, the extended walk was mediocre with the horse barely achieving overtrack and the required relaxation. In canter, however, he amazed with his good ability to collect, good four tempi changes and uphill canter extensions. Throughout the test, the rider had the tendency to lean to the left in the saddle instead of keeping his seat centered. 

The judges were in awe and their was hardly a limit to their high scores. Jovian deservedly got a 10 for trot and 9.8 for canter, but was generously rewarded 8 for his walk. He further received 9.3 for submission and another whopping 10 for perspective. Added to that were 81.071% and 79.107% for the technical part of the test, which totalled 87.145% for the day's victory. 

Couple Goals

Marianne Yde Helgstrand on Elverhojs Raccolto
Andreas' wife Marianne Yde Helgstrand ranked second with 81.886% aboard the Danish warmblood stallion Elverhojs Raccolto (by Sezuan x Sandro Hit), probably the (second) most talented horses of the class for the future. In Verden real couple goals were achieved as the twosome impressively dominated the top of the ranking. 

Bred by Berith Nielsen out of former international Grand Prix horse and former WCYH silver medal winner Polka Hit Nexen (by Sandro Hit x Temple Wind xx), Raccolto has a brilliant canter, a very good trot and a limited walk. His hindleg is engaged and reaches under, but in trot he got uneven in the rhythm in the extension and at times looked a bit sour as the rider was always very busy with her half-halting hands instead of keeping them quiet on the withers for a more steady bridle contact. The collected walk was clear, but Marianne released the reins early before turning onto the diagonal for the extended walk in which the horse barely gained ground. The canter was superb with lovely uphill flying changes and a mega, right extended canter, followed by an unscripted flying change at the end of the diagonal. Marianne was quick to correct it and executed another good change on the marker. 

The judges correctly scored the trot 9.3 and canter 9.8, but were again forgiving for the walk with their 7.8. Another whopping 8.7 followed for submission and a  9.5 for perspective. The technical judges differed in opinion and scored the test 75.179 and 71.964%. The total of 81.886% placed them second. 

Pearce Breaks Helgstrand Hold

Simone Pearce and Quando Unico
Australian Simone Pearce, a former employee at Helgstrand Dressage in Denmark and now head dressage rider at Gestut Sprehe in Germany, broke the firm hold of teal Helgstrand on the top five by moving into third place aboard Sprehe and state stud Moritzburg's Hanoverian stallion Quando Unico (by Quantensprung x Fidertanz). 

Bred by Silke Groeneveld, the black stallion showed a very big engine in the trot extension but looked a bit rushed and lost some self carriage in the lateral movements. The collected walk was ridden in a medium tempo, but the extended walk was very good with a clear V-moment in the clarity of rhythm. Pearce piloted this pocket rocket well, although the curb contact could be lighter. The canter was engaged and springy, althought there could have been more bending in the left canter half pass. The four tempi changes were straight, but the last flying change was unbalanced. The left pirouette was well prepared and small. 

Quando Unico, who had quite a rollercoaster ride to get officially licensed in Germany. Sprehe and Moritzburg acquired the premium colt for 280,000 euro at the 2016 Hanoverian Stallion Licensing, but then he twice failed the stallion performance test, only passing it by being shipped to the Czech Republic to get his scores there. Under Pearce the black has developed into a competitive sport horse and first earned his WCYH ticket in 2020 and again in 2021. 

Queenparks Wendy

Andreas Helgstrand on Queenparks Wendy
Andreas Helgstrand also placed fourth aboard the high quality Danish warmblood mare Queenparks Wendy (by Sezuan x Blue Hors Soprano), bred by Kurt Gosmer and owned by Danish Bolette Wandt's company Chateau de Fontaine in France. 

The 2019 WCYH bronze medal winning Queenparks Wendy is a very talented mare, but gets hectic in front in trot as soon as she is pushed a bit too much. Unfortunately today she struggled to find a slower, swinging rhythm in trot and had several losses of rhythm on the extended trot diagonal as well as on the voltes and in the shoulder in. She has no problems with the lateral movements per se, but just did not find a smooth flow. The collected walk was well ridden and clear, the extended walk could have had more overstep despite good relaxation. Wendy's canter is really nice with a lot of engagement from behind and upward jump. The right half pirouette was better than the left one and in the four tempi the changes to the right appeared bigger than those to the left. They finished with a square but slightly stretched end halt. 

The judges continued to high score the power horses that came from Denmark and also Wendy posted huge scores on the board. She got 8.5 for walk, 8.8 for trot, 9.5 for canter, 8.8 for submission and 9.3 for perspective. The technical scores were 73.214% and 72.143% so she finished fourth on 81.240%.

Strandby and Eternity

The top five was completed by Danish Anne-Mette Strandby Hansen aboard the Westfalian gelding Eternity (by Escolar x Sir Donnerhall x Laurentianer x Artwig). The 2020 European Under 25 Kur champion Strandby only took over the reins of Eternity in the spring of 2021 as a catch ride from Cathrine Dufour. 

Anne-Mette Strandby on Eternity
Bred by Franz Remmersmann in Germany, the bright bay gelding was first competed as a 3-year old by Pascal Kandziora and Eva Möller, who won the 2017 Bundeschampionate with him. In 2018 Hannes Lütt rode the horse to bronze at the Bundeschampionate. As he did not sell immediately in Denmark, Helgstrand sent the horse to Cathrine Dufour in November 2018 and she has trained the horse ever since.

Dufour's refined training with a clear focus on lightness, elegance and throughness was very visible today in his preliminary test in Verden. The trot was elegant and scopey. In the collected walk, whoever, he came close to being lateral and also in the extended walk the clarity of the rhythm could have been more pronounced. The canter was exceptional. The left half pirouette was a bit big but well ridden, the tempi changes were not entirely straight and landed a bit on the forehand, but the extended canter was very uphill and expressive. Overall the horse was presented in a very smooth rhythm and nicely in the frame 

Eternity scored 7.5 for walk, 9.5 for trot, 10 for canter, 8.5 for submission and 9.5 for perspective. He got 73.214% and 70.179% for the technical aspect of the test, which totalled 80.849% for fifth place. 

Where's Germany and Holland?

The 7-year old preliminary test was a bit weird. Maybe the horrendous weather dampened the spirits a bit. The format of the WCYH, officially titled the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Dressage Horses, also leads to plenty of confusion with riders from different nations starting for countries represented by the breed. 

Kira Laura Soddemann on Senor Charming
Danish Helgstrand and Jovian started for The Netherlands as the stallion is KWPN bred, Danish Strandby Hansen rode for Germany on the Westfalian Eternity, Australian Simone Pearce rode for her home country on the Hanoverian Quando Unico, etc etc. However what was very remarkable this year was that both Germany and Holland were completely unable to be force to be reckoned with in this 7-year old class. 

The best placed German was "only" 7th if you don't consider Strandby/Eternity a German combination. Kira Laura Soddemann rode Christine Schreiner's Westfalian gelding Senor Charming (by Stanford x Furst Piccolo). The sympathetic chestnut appeared well trained and good in the contact, but movement wise could not come close to the higher ranked horses. In trot he was a bit phlegmatic and in walk limited in ground cover. Soddemann did a lovely job presenting him, but he was no answer to the Danish armada today.  Much was expected from German Olympic team rider Helen Langehanenberg on the popular Hanoverian breeding stallion Zoom (by Zack x Don Schufro), but the stallion was completely out of synch with his rider, looking more like a cross 5-year old, strong in the hand and behind the aids. How can it be that such a developed dressage nation as Germany was not able this year to select five (!) 7-year olds to rival the big boys?

Yara Reichert on Springbank II
Ambitious German dressage rider Yara Reichert is only at the beginning of her international dressage career and this spring acquired herself two Ferrari's to make the leap to sportive greatness happen. She got WCYH participants Valverde and Springbank II, two outstanding horses. The partnership, however, is so new and based on the rides today Verden really seemed to have come too early for these new pairs. Interesting that they were selected on the German and Swedish team, nonetheless.

The same can be said of The Netherlands, which has such a massive dressage breeding programme going by the KWPN society. In the 5-year old division they probably have the best horse of the pack, but in the 7-year olds the training seemed to fail. Renate van Vliet-van Uytert brought two high quality KWPN licensed stallions to Verden - Johnny Depp (by Bordeaux x Jazz) and Just Wimphof (by De Niro x Riccione) - and finished 9th and 10th with them. These horses have the gaits to rival the top scorers, but they were just not as much advanced in their training. They both struggled with self carriage, contact and all together being closed and balanced in the frame, despite three outstanding basic gaits. Maybe 2021 was too soon for them.

Dutch power house stallion Jameson (by Zack x Negro) once again did not show the rideability required to score at a World Young Horse Championships. In the 5-year old finals in 2019 he appeared overwhelmed by his surroundings and got too tense and today the testosterone levels affected his brain and the horse was screaming throughout the ride and just did not focus on the task at hand. It immediately again by resisting in the halt. Rider Marieke van der Putten was pretty helpless on top as he refused to relax in the walk and jogged. He also got tense in the topline in his otherwise magnificent canter, changed behind in the pirouette and was not on the aids in the flying change to the left. Such a pity that Jameson did not deliver despite his extraordinary trot and high quality canter. Hopefully tomorrow he'll have his ducks in a row. 

Nicky Snijder on Jongleur STH
One of Holland's most interesting pairs was Nicky Snijder on Jongleur STH (by Expression x Furst Heinrich). The lean bay, bred by the Nekeman family, competed during one of the biggest downpours of rain, so the conditions were not ideal for him. He was tense and spooky in the trot, but showed much elevation in front and a good hindleg. The canter was always uphill despite the tension and the pirouettes were laboured. The collected walk was nice, the extended could have had more overtrack, probably in better weather. They finished 14th with 75.957%.

The 7-year old consolation finals is on Saturday morning and hopefully better weather conditions will create new chances for some of these pairs to shine. The top 12 ranked combinations from the Preliminary test directly qualify for the Finals. The top three from the consolation finals will earn a ticket too to Sunday's finals. 

Photos © Astrid Appels - No Reproduction allowed
Eurodressage is all week in Verden taking photos of all WCYH riders. If you are interested in using out photos for social media or prints, send us an email FIRST.

Related Link
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2021 World Championships Young Dressage Horses