- Text and Photos © Astrid Appels (this article expresses Appels' eye-witness account and opinion about the competition).
Cathrine Dufour fulfilled her favourite's role and lead Denmark to a historic team gold medal on home turf at the 2022 World Championships Dressage in Herning (DEN) on Sunday 7 July 2022.
In a battle that went down to the wire with the last rider of each team deciding the final ranking, Dufour delivered the goods and brought Denmark's team result to 235.451 points, good for gold. The crowd were in a delirium, jumping to their feet, clapping and cheering as if the world title in soccer was won.
The Table Was Set
Years in advance the stage had been carefully set by Denmark to come to this historic result: The Danish Equestrian Federation and the city of Herning joined forces to stage this event and with heavy sponsorship from Denmark's three leading horse companies - Ecco Shoes (owned by the Kasprzak family), Helgstrand Dressage, and Blue Hors stud (= Lego) - as well as the careful support of its top Grand Prix combinations, the country had laid the table for this achievement.
The point difference with the silver medal winning team of Great Britain was minimal though as not Dufour, but Charlotte Fry produced the ride of the day on Glamourdale and brought Britain's team result to 234.223 points, just 1.23% short of gold.
Unable to crack the 80% barrier this year with its team of four, title defender Germany finished in the bronze medal position with 230.791 points.
The team competition featured 92 combinations in the end, although 95 were officially on the definite entry list, and was split over two days. This year the race was particularly thrilling as the final ranking was up to the riders in the last rotation, keeping the crowds on the edge of their seats until the end.
The weather in Denmark has been atypically cold this week. While West Europe has been crunching under a heat wave, in Herning rain, clouds and cool temperatures were on the menu. Although it brought some relief to the summer heat, the weather gods exaggerated a bit too much with their cold front and brought all four seasons to the table. Especially on Sunday 7 July cold wind swept through the soccer stadium, regular rain showers dampened the spirits, and the majority of Scandinavian spectators had to bring hats, scarves, mittens, and blankets (as well as hampers to pick-nick while watching dressage) to stay warm. The merchandising store must have made a fortune selling purple ponchos to the unprepared visitors.
But after rain there is sunshine, and by the late afternoon, the sun came out and the medal ceremony took place in normal weather conditions.
After winning the 2022 CDIO Aachen at the beginning of July, Cathrine Dufour and Sarah Pidgley's 10-year old Westfalian gelding Vamos Amigos (by Vitalis x Hotline) arrived in Herning as the hot favourites for team and individual gold. It initially appeared that she would be unchallenged for the title as the only rider in Herning having scored 80% in a Grand Prix test this season. However, insiders knew that the secret challenger would be Charlotte Fry on Glamourdale with an 80% Grand Prix Special result at the CDIO Compiegne in May. Lotty rode two riders before Dufour and put the pressure on. More in Fry's test later in this article.
The crowds in Herning have been very empathic with the riders and did not curb their enthusiasm when they saw a ride they liked. They would start clapping in the final bit of passage after the piaffe at X in support of the pair. Dufour, however, launched a message on social media that she did not want any clapping in her test as her hot-to-trot Vamos Amigos might get too electric. It was funny to hear the crowds group-controlling each other. Some could not contain their excitement and begin to clap. This was immediately nipped in the bud by a lady screaming very loudly "Nej" across the stadium, like a prison guard, to stop them from putting their hands together.
Anyway, Dufour had a very interesting ride on Vamos Amigos. The halt at entry was square but stretched, the medium trot was conservative and in the half pass right the horse dropped behind the vertical, but the left one was very smooth and ground covering. There was barely any overtrack in the extended trot (7.5 - 8), but the passage was very rhythmical and soft footed. The extended walk had good relaxation and the collected walk was very carefully and quietly ridden. The second passage was like a metronome and the transition into piaffe was exceptional. However, what needs to be noted is that Vamos' piaffe is not a true piaffe coming from collection. The horse does not take the weight on the hindquarters, there is no sit, and he goes wide in the frontlegs (lack of balance), often skipping the right hind out from under the body. In all fairness, Vamos' "piaffe" is superb in the rhythm and the horse displays incredible eagerness to perform, but his piaffe is a passage on the spot. The judges still generously reward it with marks between 7.5 and 9. The canter strike off had a double beat behind (7 - 7.5). Dufour rode the canter work very carefully and there were no mistakes, not in the tempi changes, not in the zig zag nor in the pirouettes. Overall the canter stride gets quite short and there could be more ground cover and elasticity in the back. The final trot extension had plenty of leg flash but no real lengthening of the frame and barely any overtrack. Dufour and Vamos are a true joy to watch though. Cathrine rides with such feeling and the horse looks very happy with himself, strolling out of the arena totally at peace with himself while the stadium erupted in a roar. The pair displays a lot of "lightness" but one could question this bridle contact as the horse does not stretch into the contact, a basic requirement in the training of horses, but instead often curls himself or seems to evade a connection. The overall silhouette is beautiful though and certainly a far fry from the heavy curb contact and the kick and pull riding that was celebrated as the world's best a decade ago.
Dufour scored 81.864% to top the board and bring team Denmark to gold. Five of the second judges had her first, two second. Her individual marks ranged from 80.109% to 83.043%. As this is an (inter)continental championship the class is judged by seven instead of five judges and a Judging Supervisory Panel (JSP) oversees the scoring to ensure that no grave errors have been made (for instance when a judge does not spot a mistake, but all the others do).
JSP Correction to Dufour's Score
The ground jury in Herning includes Anne Gribbons (USA), Susanne Baarup (DEN), Peter Storr (GBR), Christof Umbach (LUX), Elke Ebert (GER), Mariette Sanders - v. Gansewinkel (NED), and Raphaël Saleh (FRA), while the JSP has David Hunt, Henk van Bergen and Mary Seefried controlling the scores. In Dufour's case they intervened and corrected Christof Umbach's score, who had Dufour at 74.348%. The JSP called in the following rule: "if a judge’s final score for a Horse/Athlete combination varies (above or below) by six (6) % or more from the average of the scores of the other judges for the same combination, the JSP may, by unanimous decision, change that particular score to be the same as the next closest score." The JSP corrected Umbach's score to an 80.109% to even out his results with the rest of the flock. This is a very interesting fact, as it makes you wonder if it could have affected Denmark's winning team result. In the end, no ! With Umbach's original score her mark would have been 81.040% and it would still have placed her first and Denmark in the gold medal position (234.627 points it would have been). This still leaves the question whether Umbach assessed Dufour's test more strictly (and/or correctly) and the others were more generous for the home favourite?
Denmark's confirmed team score of 235.451 points was further boosted by the 76.863% that Carina Cassoe Kruth and the 76.724% that Nanna Merrald Rasmussen scored on Saturday. The Danish scratch score was 76.584% produced by Daniel Bachmann Andersen on Nicola Ahorner's 10-year old Danish gelding Marshall Bell (by Don Romantic x Michellino) who placed 10th in the ranking. Although Marshall Bell looked more fine-tuned in the contact than in Aachen, he was not always regular in the rhythm, overachieving with his hindlegs in the passage and trot extensions. The walk was very even and relaxed, but there could have been more V-moment in the rhythm. The piaffes were on the forehand, but the highlights of the test were in canter with exceptional two's and a super extended canter.
Silver for Great Britain, Watch Out for Glamourdale
Team Great Britain was hot on Denmark's heels and has brought a not so secret weapon to Herning with which they will put a lot of pressure on Dufour for the individual medals: Glamourdale.
The 2018 World Young Horse Champion as a 7-year old is now 11 and has come of age as a Grand Prix horse. In Herning he showed what he is capable of and has not yet reached full potential. As the head rider at Gert-Jan van Olst's stallion stable and with Anne van Olst coaching her, Lotty Fry currently is competing no less than five Grand Prix horse (Glamourdale, Everdale, Dark Legend, Inclusive, and Don Joe). While with the others it's often a bit of an arm wrestle, with Glamourdale she presents a much more harmonious picture. The tall black stallion is such a powerhouse, but it doesn't like he needs that much muscle to be controlled. Fry really shines on Glamourdale and produced a ride that could easily have made her win the Grand Prix.
Glamourdale has three outstanding basic gaits and is just mind-blowing in all the extensions. Despite all that power and ground cover, he never appears hectic. He had a confident entry in canter with a square halt, ground covering trot half passes with super cadence, huge extensions and a regular passage. The extended walk had relaxed striding and the collected walk was clear. The two tempi changes were huge, but in the ones he still gets deep and is not as ground covering. The extended canter was out of this world, the zig zig sweeping. The "problem point" with this horse is the collected work: the piaffes have no real sit, he stays quite straight in the hindlegs and leans a bit on the forehand. In the pirouettes he also needs to sit more. Both these movements have a double coefficient so it affects the end result. Fry still rode them tactfully and her test was one of the highlights of the day. She scored 80.838% with 79.674% being the low score and 82.283% the high score.
Britain's second best score was produced by double Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin who is presenting the fourth horse which she has produced to Grand Prix level and ridden onto the British team (Valegro, Mount St. John Freestyle, and Gio). Her new toy boy is the 9-year KWPN gelding Imhotep (by Everdale x Vivaldi) which is owned by Carl Hester and Coral Ingham. The liver chestnut has only done two CDI's so far, Compiegne and Wellington Heckfield, and in Herning he presented himself as a piano that is being tuned at the moment. The halt at entry was square but a fraction crooked to the right. The trot extensions were ground covering, but in the collected trot he got a bit slow in the tempo. The half pass right was tight in the neck but had a nice balance and soft-footed rhythm. The passage was lovely with good bounce, but at times the hocks were high and the hindlegs more out than under which gave a croup high impression. The first piaffe travelled a bit forward. The walk was well regulated. The transition into the second piaffe was superb.
The piaffe itself had an excellent rhythm and "Pete", as Imhotep is know in the barn, really has the ability to sit behind, but he is still fairly unbalanced, going wide in the frontlegs. The canter strike off went wrong. In canter Imhotep showed big tempi changes with the ones to the right appearing bigger and more uphill. The pirouettes were small. On the final centerline Imhotep swayed a bit in the hindquarters. There was a lot to like about this promising young Grand Prix horse but the overall silhouette would improve with more length in the neck and a lighter bridle contact, as he often opened the mouth because of the hand aids. The pair scored 77.407% for a fourth place.
Britain's third score came from Gareth Hughes and Briolinca, who placed 13th 75.978%. The British team dropped a little bombshell at the press conference after the prize giving ceremony, explaining Hughes' absence from the conference (but not the prize giving ceremony with lots of kissing and hand-shaking). He had tested positive to Covid. The FEI's policy for riders competing with Covid depends on the rules of the country the competition is held in. Denmark has no law at the moment but the "recommendation" to go into self-isolation when infected. It sparked much debate again about covid policies. Interestingly, Japanese team rider Akane Kuroki withdraw from the team two days before the horse inspection because she was positive.
Britain's scratch score was Richard Davison's 68.851% aboard his 16-year old KWPN bred Bubblingh (by Lingh x Picandt).
Bronze for Germany
The team title defenders Germany landed the bronze medal in the absence of stalwarts Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (pregnant) and Dorothee Schneider (horse not fit). Germany travelled to Herning with three team newcomers - Ingrid Klimke, Benjamin Werndl, and Frederic Wandres - backed up by fixture Isabell Werth.
The team's best score was ridden by Isabell Werth on Victoria Max-Theurer's 12-year old Brandenburg bred Quantaz (by Quaterback x Hohenstein). The pair has been having a roller coaster season with mixed results. The bay stallion and his rider have not always found common ground. In Compiegne he popped his tongue out, in Balve his walk was the weak spot. It is always incredible to see how Isabell can manage to make a compromise in the test on a work-in-progress horse. It is fascinating to see how she can ride a faultfree Grand Prix ride, even though there quite a few snags in the overall presentation. The entry looked busy but the halt was square. The trot extensions were good, but the half pass right was more elastic than the left one. The passage is bouncy but the hindlegs did not properly come under the body and the horse was hollow in the back. The extended walk was well ridden, even though there could be more V - in the rhythm. The collected walk had several lateral steps (4 - 6). The piaffes stayed quite small today. In canter, Werth was really working at it, swinging in the saddle in all the flying changes, but she rode them mistake free. The right pirouette was a bit big. The judges rewarded the ride with 77.127%, the high score for Germany, which put Werth fifth on the board. The fact that the ride was so laboured was also proven in the results with marks going from 73.696% (Storr) to 78.587% (Sanders).
Benjamin Werndl and Flora Keller's Famoso (by Farewell III x Welt Hit II) rode on day one and his 77.003% carried him to a 6th place overall. This pair probably produced the most harmonious ride of the pack that was classically correct and friendly to watch.
As last starter to go for Germany, Frederic Wandres and Hof Kasselmann's 15-year old British bred Hanoverian Duke of Britain (by Dimaggio x Rubinstein) had much to live up to. After stellar performances at the CDIO Aachen a month ago, it was expected for the pair to be Germany's spearhead, but the lovely chestnut looked tired. It especially showed in the passage, where he was at times trailing behind, or lacked a bit of impulsion in his otherwise very nice, on the spot piaffe. Wandres stood out with a true rein back and good walk work. The one tempi changes were uphill, even though the rider should sit more quietly in the saddle. The pirouettes were good and the final piaffe at X was lovely. He scored 76.661% for a 9th place.
Germany's fourth team score was still a strong 75.683% from Ingrid Klimke and Wilhelm Holkenbrink's Hanoverian stallion Franziskus (by Fidertanz x Alabaster). Klimke is a double European eventing champion (and double Olympic team champion), but now has a team bronze medal as a dressage rider too. Only one rider in the world has ever achieved that feat before her, an FEI Contintental Championship medal in two different disciplines, was ..... Dr. Reiner Klimke, her late father. He won European team gold in Harewood 1959, at the time when there were no World Championships in eventing, and team and individual gold at the 1982 World Championships in Lausanne.
Six Qualify for Paris
The team competition at the 2022 World Championships carried special weight as it was the first team selection trial for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The top six ranked countries qualify a team for Paris and aside of the medal winning countries, Sweden, The Netherlands and the USA got their ticket to Paris.
Sweden's best score was produced by Patrik Kittel on Sommarkvarn's 10-year old Swedish gelding Touchdown (by Quaterback x Sack) with 76.522%. The trot work was energetic and ground covering with big half passes and extensions, but in passage the horse had a hollow back and the hindlegs out instead of under towards the point of gravity. The extended walk had good ground cover and the canter work was very obedient. Overall it would be nice to see the horse ridden more off the curb. Juliette Ramel and 16-year old Buriel KH (by Osmium x Krack C) delivered another very consistent performance that earned them 76.164% with highlights in the uphill canter work, even though he looked quite sweaty and a bit more high strung today. Therese Nilshagen and the 15-year old Oldenburg Dante Weltino (by Danone x Welt Hit II) went full throttle and really stepped on the gas in trot. The pair always has an exemplary bridle contact, light and easy, but today the piaffes were a bit difficult. They got 74.456%. Sweden was fourth with 227.142 points.
The Dutch team landed fifth place with 225.621 points with Dinja van Liere and Hermes (by Easy Game x Flemmingh) as top scorer on 78.835%, good for a third place. Also her score underwent a JSP correction with Anne Gribbons' 72.8% lifted to 77.174%. The original score would not have had any consequences for her or her team's ranking. Emmelie Scholtens and her gorgeous 9-year old KWPN stallion Indian Rock (by Apache x Vivaldi) charmed many spectators and judges with friendly presentation. The horse is an absolute eye catcher with his knee action and stunning face. The horse lacked bending in the corners and although the passage has much elevation, at this moment it is still more of a shuffle with quite a hollow back, than a true passage in self carriage. The piaffe has a lot of promise as the horse can really lower the haunches, but also this could improve in balance. The pirouettes were excellent, the one tempi's very uphill, but the self carriage in canter is also in a development phase. More to come from this horse. He got 74.410%.
Team USA is not having the best time in Herning. After winning silver at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year, they were "only" sixth here in Herning. The team best score came from Steffen Peters on Akiko Yamazaki's 14-year old KWPN gelding Suppenkasper (by Spielberg x Krack C) with a 74.767%. The tall bay gelding showed great trot extensions with a clear medium trot, sweeping half pass, a well ridden zig zag and uphill extended canter. The passage work was not so regular today though and there was a hesitation in the canter strike off. Adrienne Lyle and Betsy Juliano's 15-year old Hanoverian stallion Salvino (by Sandro Hit x Donnerhall) posted 74.394% which is quite below her usual scoring level. The black stallion looked fresh and fit on the legs, but the passage was not so well carried and collected. The walk part was very strong and the piaffes are lovely, but in canter, the horse fell on the forehand, particularly in the extended canter and he got tangled in the zig zag. The one tempi changes were beautiful.
The action continues on Monday 8 August 2022 with the Grand Prix Special which decides the first set of individual medals. The freestyle finals are on Wednesday evening.
Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED (NO SCREEN SHOTS!)
Eurodressage photographed all dressage riders competing at the 2022 World Championships. If you are want to use our photos for social media or prints, email us first.
Scores: 2022 World Championships Dressage
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2022 World Championships Dressage