Raphael Netz navigated Ferdinand BB to the high score of the day and led Germany to team gold at the 2022 European Under 25 Championships in Pilisjaszfalu, Hungary on Thursday 25 August 2022.
The team championship came to a conclusion today with the second group of riders contesting the Intermediaire II in sunny, 27 ° C temperatures. The ground jury consisting of Hans Voser (Sui), Orsolya Hillier (Hun), Christof Umbach (Lux), Thomas Lang (Aut), and Ulrike Nivelle (Ger) did the final sorting today and rewarded the German riders with the highest team total of 222.853%. The Danish team followed in the distance for silver with 217.471 points. Bronze went to The Netherlands with 213.559%
Germany is Golden
In the seven-year history of the European Under 25 Championships - first held in 2016 - Team Germany has won the gold six times and was only once bested, by The Netherlands, in 2020. With a first, second and fourth place in the Intermediaire II this year, they were solid for gold.
The victorious campaign was spearheaded by Raphael Netz aboard Beatrice Burchler-Keller's 13-year old Hanoverian gelding Ferdinand BB (by Florencio x Lanciano). The slender bay gelding is Olympic champion Jessica von Bredow-Werndl's second horse to prima donna Dalera but as she recently gave birth to a baby girl, she passed on the ride to her assistant rider, Raphael Netz. Last year he piloted Elastico to team and individual gold at the Europeans, this year he is on another winning path with the fully established Grand Prix horse Ferdinand. The pair showed quite conservative trot lengthenings, but the half passes were controlled and easy going. The passage was nice, regular and straight and in the first piaffe the horse had a good rhythm, but leaned on the forehand, crossing in front. There was a smooth transition into the second piaffe and the pair showed a very good extended walk. The flying change after the extended canter was early to the marker, a challenge for many riders in Pilisjaszfalu. The pair executed smooth canter half passes, nice pirouettes but both a bit big. There was several blips in the two tempi changes (4.2) and in the ones the horse sometimes got short behind and swooshed the tail. They had a good final centerline to post a winning 75.294%.
Yesterday's overnight leader Helen Erbe and Carlos (by Carabas x Weltmeyer) only moved one spot down on the ranking to place second with 74.853%, while Germany's third team member Alexa Westendarp slotted in fourth. Aboard her 11-year old home bred Hanoverian mare Four Seasons (by Furstenball x Fidertanz), long-time team routinier Westendarp rode good trot extensions and a very strong zig zag in trot, in which the mare really crossed the legs, especially in the half pass to the left. The mare broke into canter in the first passage and lost the rhythm in the first piaffe, but was one of the few horses clearly displaying the willingness to take the weight on behind. The second piaffe had better rhythm but less sit. In the walk the mare was visibly short - long behind, but there was good relaxation and overtrack in the extended walk. Four Seasons was very secure in the canter work with strong two tempi and ground covering one tempi changes. The pirouettes were more small voltes though. They posted 72.706% althiugh the judge at E (Voser) had her at 70.441%, while the judge at C (Umbach) rewarded her with 74.559%.
Germany's drop score was 71.324% ridden by Alina Schrader on Paola.
Silver for Denmark
Denmark landed on the silver medal step of the podium with team with team debutante Thea Bech surprising all with a 72.971% earning test. Bech and her 14-year old KWPN gelding Dionisos (by Spielberg x Sir Sinclair) rode with conviction and executed some of the better piaffe-passage work seen at the show.
Karoline Rohmann and her own and American Kyle Kuvalanka's 13-year old Jakas Don Louvre (by Don Romantic x Lauries Crusador xx) ranked fifth with 72.559%. The pair produced a confident test with ground covering half passes, a clear extended walk, secure two tempi changes and big ones. In passage the horse could be more closed and carrying from behind as he tends to swing. There was a smooth transition into the second piaffe .
Team fixture Josefine Hoffmann and Anna Kasprzak's 18-year old Danish warmblood gelding Honnerups Driver (by Romanov x Don Schufro) are performing in their fourth Europeans at Under 25 level and their fifth in total (one at YR level). The tall liver chestnut scored 71.941% for a sixth place. Driver showed a lot of shoulder freedom and leg flash in front with nice even striding in the trot extensions, but there needed to be more overtrack. The half passes were smooth. The horse has a lightfooted passage but could stay straighter, in piaffe he stays small and goes very wide behind. The extended walk had sufficient overtrack but there needed to be more V-moment in the rhythm. The pair produced secure canter work with good extensions, half passes, balanced pirouettes, and straight two tempi. There was a mistake in the ones.
Denmark's fourth score was 71.882% achieved by Laura Thorup on Blue Hors Veneziano.
Bronze for Holland
The Dutch team captured the bronze team medal with Febe van Zwambagt and the 9-year old Hanoverian gelding Fernandell MS (by For Compliment x Londonderry) leading the way. The competed on Wednesday and rode the top score for Holland with 71.441% (9th place).
Jessica Poelman and the 15-year old Dutch warmblood gelding Chocolate Cookie RDP (by Johnson x Livingstone) were Holland's pride at last year's Europeans, capturing double bronze there. In Hungary the pair still needed to find their stride. There was a break into canter in the first trot extension and the half passes were hurried. The collected walk was nicely ridden, the passage fresh footed. The left pirouette had a loss of balance, the right one was better. The test looked rushed despite plenty of good moments. The total score was 71.147% but it certainly had the judges puzzled as they awarded it scores between 68.088 (Voser) and 74.412% (Lang).
Julia Bouthoorn and the 15-year old KWPN Choice Finch rode on Wednesday and produced the third contributing score for the Dutch team, 70.971%. The scratch score was still a 70.765% which Thalia Rockx and her 20-year old evergreen Verdi de la Fazenda (by Florett As x Sandro Hit) put on the board. The dark bay gelding could no longer hide his age and seemed not as willing to truly take the weight behind (in the piaffe and passage) but he still delivered and did the job and showed a good extended walk and nice energy in the extended canter. Hiccups at the start of the one tempi line influenced the score.
Making Their Mark
While the top 10 was mostly covered by the podium place-getters, Spaniard Alejandro Oliva Lazaro and the 11-year old Hanoverian gelding Decor (by Detroit x Herzensdieb) certainly left an impression. The horse is very expressive in the forehand and showed nice passage with smooth transitions in and out of the piaffes. At times the passage would have been a bit more regular, but it showed good collection. The walk was a bit limited and the flying change at X was in two phases. The pirouettes were small, the second extended canter was uphill, the two tempi's were correct, but there was a bobble in the ones. They scored 71.794% for 8th place but there is more potential in there.
Belgium's Nico Nyssen rounded out the top 10 with 71.324%. His 12-year old KWPN gelding Farrington (by Jazz x Samba Hit) looks very Jazzy and athletic. There was a break in the right half pass though, but the horse showed nice elevation in passage, at times with more right hindleg engagement. The piaffes were nicely on the spot, but could be straighter. The extended walk had good overtrack, but the horse could relax and stretch more over the topline. Nyssen and Farrington, who was previously shown by his American owner Michael Pineo, produced good canter half passes and straight tempi changes.
The action continues tomorrow with the first group of riders competing in the Short Grand Prix test for the individual medals.
Text © Astrid Appels (this article expresses Appels' view on the competition) - Photos © Lukasz Kowalski
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