Helena Schmitz-Morkramer and Lifestyle led Germany to the team gold medal at the 2022 European Junior and Young Riders Championships in Hartpury, Great Britain, on 27 July 2022.
The Young Riders team championship competition began on Tuesday 26 July with the first group of riders and concluded on Wednesday 27 July with the last group. While Germany captured the team gold after taking the first, second and third place in the individual ranking, the silver team medal went to Denmark, while bronze was for Sweden.
The 2022 European JR/YR Championship at Hartpury college should originally have taken place in 2020 but were postponed because of the corona pandemic. The Hartpury team, led by Philip Cheetham, and British Dressage pulled out all the stops to make this event a memorable one. The arenas are well laid out on high quality footing and the scheduled is properly adhered to. Also the prize giving ceremony was well done with plenty of space for the team horses to wait far behind the podium and not get wound up by the cheering and clapping
Schmitz-Morkramer Makes an Impression
German team member Helena Schmitz-Morkramer made an outstanding impression on Tuesday as the high scoring pair of the day as she became the overnight leader with 75.206%. None of the riders competing today were able to best her score. The judges' panel, consisting of Stephen Clarke (GBR), Jane Weatherwax (USA), Evi Eisenhardt (GER), Alice Schwab (AUT), and Maarten Van Der Heijden (NED), rewarded Schmitz-Morkramer with marks between 74.412% and 76.029%, which ranked her between first and third place.
There was no doubt that Helena and her 12-year old Brandenburg gelding Lifestyle (by Lord Fantastic x Samba Hit) had produced the best test in the field of 49 combinations. No other pair matched her level of accuracy, lightness and textbook presentation, especially in trot and canter. The bay gelding carried himself well, was quiet in the contact, had proper bending and was unshakeable in his rhythm in trot. Also in canter the pair produced straight tempi changes and well ridden half pirouettes, although the onset of the right one was big. The walk part, however, was not the greatest with the collected walk coming close to lateral, although the quality of walk improved in between the turns on the haunches. The extended walk had limited overtrack and was not so clear in the rhythm, but the horse stretched into the contact (scores between 6.5 and 7.5). Albeit, Schmitz-Morkramer undoubtedly rode the best Young Rider team test of the pack and had set herself on individual medal course later this week.
Germany Back to Gold
The Young Riders team competition in Hartpury proved once more that a country needs one star rider to lift the performances of the group. Last year in Oliva Nova, The Netherlands grabbed the gold, spearheaded by Marten Luiten on Fynona, and in 2022 Team Orange also got gold with Daphne van Peperstraten leading the way. After having won gold two years in a row, the Dutch team did not make the podium (6th) in Hartpury despite good rides. The way was clear for Germany to storm back to the top.
The second best German score came from team routinier Jana Lang on the 16-year old KWPN gelding Baron (by Johnson x Krack C), who also rode on day one and got a generous 74.382% from the panel. The judges were highly divided on the ride as the low score was 71.765% (Weatherwax - 13th place) and the high score was 76.029% (Clarke - 1st). Lang's Baron does leave you wondering how this horse's trot gets assessed as in my opinion Baron has a hitch in his hind leg which sometimes gives an impression of a few uneven steps, even though he moves with cadence and forward energy in trot. The gelding's canter is very uphill and ground covering with big flying changes and it consistently earns him high points. Lang could not present Baron in the same frame of lightness and effortlessness as team mate Helena, but still had a strong test.
Germany's third team score came from Lucie-Anouk Baumgurtel on her 10-year old KWPN gelding Hugo (by Spielberg x San Remo). The pair won the 2021 European Junior Riders Championships in Oliva Nova last year and raised the bar this year by moving straight into the Young Riders division, even though the 18-year old Lucie is in her last year as a junior. As last pair to go for her team today, Baumgurtel rode her horse in a nice bridle contact and produced lovely half passes with good crossing of the legs. The transition to collected trot out of the second extension was abrupt. The walk pirouettes were small, the collected walk ok and the tempi changes were straight and correct but maybe a bit conservative. Also the extended canter lacked some oomph and uphill tendency, but it was a clean correct ride that earned them 73.706% with marks going from 72.206 (Weatherwax and Van der Heijden, 11th and 9th) up to 75.882% (Schwab - 1st).
Germany totalled 223.294 points for gold. Their scratch score was 70.118% achieved by Jana Schrödter on her 14-year old Oldenburg Der Erbe (by Dimaggio x de Niro).
The Danish team followed in the distance on second place for silver with 217.382 points.
The team best score came from long-time tea rider Frederikke Gram Jacobsen aboard her 12-year old Danish mare Ryvangs Zafina (by Zack x Come Back II). After having ridden at three European Junior Riders Championships, Gram Jacobsen was now at her first Young Rider Euros and immediately promoted herself to team anchor despite having been chosen to ride on the first day. Her trot tour showed much consistency and rhythm, although the bay mare could have marched more in the extended walk instead of getting quick. In the left canter half pirouette the mare lost some stride but overall the test was very smooth and easy looking. They scored 73.353% which placed them fourth individually.
Denmark's second contributing score was delivered by Alexander Yde Helgstrand, who rode last for his team as the expected team high scorer. Aboard Isabell Werth's former Grand Prix horse Belantis (by Benetton Dream x Expose), Helgstrand began with a crooked halt, but then recovered with lovely trot work in which the 13-year old grey gelding showed off his shoulder freedom, but did not achieve sufficient overtrack in the second trot extension. The rhythm was smooth and the contact steady and quiet. The left trot half pass was the better one. Alexander struggled with both turns on the haunches, losing impulsion in the collected walk. The canter pirouettes were lovely and unforced. The tempi changes were ridden without pressure and also the extended canter was nice, even though the horse lost a bit of clarity in the three beat rhythm. The test was pleasant to watch, and earned him a 72.059%. The judges on the long side were the lower scoring ones (71.618 and 68.824%).
Sophia Ludvigsen produced the third team score for Denmark with a 71.970% that placed her 12th. Her tall and powerful bay gelding Blue Hors Elliott, an 8-year old Danish warmblood by Erlando x Romanov and bred by Danish Grand Prix rider Agnete Kirk Thinggaard, is a very interesting horse to watch. The trot work had good cadence even though at times he needed to be more open in the throat latch. The walk was good, even though he moves the front legs wide open with each step. He changed lead after the left half pirouette, which made them lose many points, but the four tempi changes were really wonderful.
Denmark's scratch score came from Sara Aagaard Hyrm, who did not ride her long-time partner Skovborgs Romadinov, but her younger horse for the future, Atterupgaards Cooper (by Charmeur x Gribaldi). They posted 68.500% (28th).
Bronze for Sweden
The Swedish team edged out the home team from Great Britain with a fraction of a point for the bronze medal. Sweden finished third with 216.764 percentage points, while Team GB landed off the podium in fourth place with 215.971 points.
The Swedish team was spearheaded by brand new Swedish Young Riders' champion Hedda Thunberg on Lyndal Oatley's former Grand Prix horse Diva, a 14-year old Swedish warmblood mare by Richfield out of Olympic mare Deja (by Silvano x Don Schufro). They were the penultimate pair to go today and the pressure was on their shoulders to secure the bronze. The halt at entry was not immobile and showed slight resistance, but the trot work was even with good half passes. The mare is quite dry in the mouth and could foam a bit more, accepting the contact. The walk part earned her between 6 and 7.5. The right canter pirouette was lovely, the tempi changes straight in the body although at times the canter stride got a bit short. Their pair posted 73.088% for a fifth place (marks from 71.912% to 74.412%).
Hot on their heels was team made Linnea Holmgren on the 12-year old Oldenburg gelding Sir Dennis (by Sir Donnerhall x De Niro), who rode a forward, energetic trot tour with good ground cover in the half passes, even though the onset of the left half pass was a bit messy. The canter work was very solid and they posted 73.029% to place right behind Thunberg in 6th place. Her scores also ranged between 71.176% and 74.412% (both judges on the long side).
Sweden's third score was ridden by Ellen Hedbys on the 14-year old Swedish bred gelding Quentin SV (by Quaterbacl x De Niro). Her appealing gelding stayed nicely up in the frame in trot, showed ground covering extensions but got stiff in the back in the collected walk and the extended needer more V-moment in the rhythm. They scored 70.647% (18th).
Sweden's scratch score was 68.441% achieved by team come back kid Blanca Bosson on the 15-year old KWPN gelding Cardon M (by Lord Leatherdale x Sandro Hit).
Britain's Surge in the Team Ranking
While British Grand Prix riders have been key players in high performance sport, their junior and young riders have been struggling to find connection with the podium at the European Youth Championships for years. In 2021 the British young riders' team was 7th in Oliva Nova, in 2020 they didn't even have a team, in 2019 they were 12th with an average score of 64.706%, in 2018 they were 6th. One has to go back to 2017 to see the British Young Riders' team in the top five, that year in Roosendaal they were fifth with now Olympian Charlotte Fry as team anchor.
This year Caitlin Burgess was in the vanguard of the British team effort. As last rider to go, the team competition was a thriller to the very end. Burgess' test on the 15-year old KWPN gelding Chocotof (by Lord Leatherdale x Negro) was a good example of lovely training and presentation. Chocotof is not the most modern looking and moving horse, but he was so correct. Ridden in a snaffle, the dark bay gelding showed good balance in the lateral movements and voltes in trot. The collected walk was a fraction quick, the extended has good rhythm but seemed limited in overtrack. In canter the pair rode straight and expressive tempi changes and a correct extended canter, although Chocotof did not display the most elastic, uphill striding in it. They landed 8th place with 72.765% but her marks ranged from 70.588% (Dutch judge, 18th) to 75.000% (American judge, 1st).
Team mate Jessica McConkey and her 13-year old Danish mare Lady Gaga (by Quaterback x Solos Landwind) were right behind them in 9th place with 72.235%. They were the last starters on Tuesday and benefit from the scores that seemed rising towards the end of the class. The bay mare has lots of suspension in trot, but could cross the hindlegs more in the half passes. The right half pirouette has both hindlegs together, but the tempi changes were secure and straight.
Britain's third score of 70.971% was ridden by Anna Dalrymple on American Maxine Vainio's 13-year old Lusitano bred Vagabond de Massa (by Rieto x Xaqiero). The pair produced cadenced trot work with half passes that were some of the best shown today. The tempi changes were straight and only in the extended canter the bay Lusitano lost the clarity in the 3-beat canter striding. The horse anticipated the change at the end of the diagonal and made it before the aids were given.
Britain's scratch score was still a proper 69.971% achieved by Maddy Frewin on Hannah Dovey's 13-year old KWN gelding Eagle Nouvelle (by Singapore x Burggraaf), a new ride for Frewin who took over the horse from Katherine Bailey.
Making Their Mark
While their countries were further down the team ranking, several riders from different nations made their mark in the Young Riders' team championship test.
Two Austrians put in valiant efforts and landed in the top 10. Austria's best was Felicita Simoncic on the 9-year old KWPN gelding Ivar (by Ampere x Olivi). The very cute bay gelding is a little pocket rocket with very nice flying changes and good ability to sit in the pirouettes. A mistake in the three tempi changes and a short change after the extended canter influenced the end score of 72.794% (7th).
Paul Jöbstl and Josef Wilbers' 13-year old Hanoverian stallion Bodyguard were last year's bronze medal winner at the European Junior Championships in Oliva Nova and today placed 10th at Young Riders' level with 72.059%. The liver chestnut stallion had a few issues in the right pirouette and the final flying change after the extended trot, but the trot half passes were secure and the extended walk well ridden.
Spain's Sergio Moron Basoco and the 12-year old Danish gelding Farnham L (by Furst Rousseau x Hohenstein) were 13th with 71.941%. The chestnut gelding was a bit tense and distracted which led to a few small bobbles in the test, such as an abrupt transition out of the extended trot, a rather large right walk pirouette and a laboured left canter half pirouette. The tempi changes were ground covering and the extended walk was good. Interestingly, the Austrian judge gave him 69.265% (21st place) and the Dutch judge rewarded the ride with 73.382% (4th place).
Holland's best performing duo was Robin Heiden on the 11-year old KWPN gelding Gasmonkey (by Tuschinski x Ferro), who placed 14th with 71.882%. The trot work was sure-footed with ground covering half passes but there was a break in the rhythm in the first extension. The extended walk was very nice, but the right turn on the haunches lacked impulsion. The last change in the four tempi changes was short and the final halt crooked (score 5 - 8). Heiden had Gasmonkey very nicely in the frame with the poll as highest point.
After a very successful spring season with a Kur victory at the CDI Lier, a triple victory at the CDI Opglabbeek, and a second place at the CDIO Aachen at the beginning of the month, Belgium's Amber van den Steen rode strongly today aboard her 12-year old KWPN gelding Fame (by Ampere x Sultano) with outstanding trot work and tempi changes, but lost valuable points in the limited walk and one broken flying change. There is much more scoring potential there, but today it was 71.324% for a 15ht place.
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED (NO SCREEN SHOTS!)
Eurodressage photographed all riders competing at the 2022 European JR / YR Championships. If you are want to use our photos for social media or prints, email us first.
Scores: 2022 European Junior and Young Riders Championships
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2022 European Junior/Young Riders Championships