- Text and Photos © Lily Forado
During the first week of June 2023, equestrian centre Las Cadenas in Camarma de Esteruelas hosted one of the most difficult Spanish championships to date. The heavy rain and the electric thunderstorm were the two unwanted guests that turned everything upside down. With two qualifiers and no KUR, a total of 25 riders fought for the national senior Grand Prix champion's title.
There were many bets, but in the end Beatriz Ferrer-Salat continued her supremacy with her 1 title, Juan Antonio Jiménez was on fire and José Daniel Martin Dockx fought like a champ. On the other hand, José Antonio García Mena extended his resumé and won the national title at Small Tour level with Jumeaux
Grand Prix in the Rain
The Senior Championship kicked off with the Grand Prix and the bets were on. Much was expected of nine-time Spanish champion Beatriz Ferrer-Salat who had only returned to international competition with 15-year old KWPN gelding Elegance (by Negro x Monaco) two weeks before the Nationals after a 1.5 year break due to injury.
In the streaming rain, Beatriz Ferrer-Salat put Elegance in the lead with a whopping score of 75,456%. A few tenths away and making his intentions for a medal clear, were José Daniel Martin Dockx with the 13-year old PRE stallion Malagueño LXXXIII (by Joyero XXIV x Dominante XVI). They were second with 75.305%. Routinier Juan Antonio Jiménez closed the podium with the 14-year old Lusitano Euclides MOR (by Riopele) on 74,870%.
The rained out Grand Prix, which had horses and riders wading through pools of water as the all-weather footing could not cope with the amounts, had given an idea of who the big players for the podium places were, but excitement and hype of the first round would be put "under charge" in the next, the Grand Prix Special.
High Voltage GP Special
While the north of Europe is under a dry spell, southern countries like Spain and Italy have been dealing with unusually wet weather this late spring. On Friday 2 June, a bit of lightning was put on top of that special menu that made the Championships more challenging than ever.
The best 25 riders from the Grand Prix moved to the second round, the Grand Prix Special. Close to the third block of rider, the sky took a dark grayish tone and the presence of lighthing started. The loud bang, crack and snaps were stronger and stronger. For an hour and a half, the danger was palpable, but the show apparently had to go on as the officials of the Spanish equestrian Federation didn’t make any decision.
It was former Spanish team rider Claudio Castilla who got the brunt of it when he entered the arena with his 12-year old Hanoverian Lario de Adama de Susa (by Locksley II x Rotspon). He was one of the riders who got involved in all the drama. He was performing the passage to canter transition, when all of the sudden the judge in C rang the bell in order to stop his test. Claudio Castilla was asked to leave the ring and the GP Special was put on “hold", while the action in the two other arenas kept going (young horses and U25). Five minutes later, the entire competition stopped.
Subsequently, all riders immediately met with the technical staff of the federation. More sparks flew in that room, to say the least, compared to the outside weather. Words such equality of conditions, fairplay, a level play of field for all, the welfare of the horse, precaution, safety and quality of the arena were used on several occasions. In the end, the Spanish Federation decided to cancel the Freestyle, which was originally scheduled for Saturday evening (but on Thursday rescheduled for Saturday morning before all the GP special drama started). So the last group of GP Special riders were allowed do their test the next day.
The 14 remaining riders had to finish their Grand Prix Special on Saturday, albeit in much more favourable, dry and sunny conditions. This year two rounds counted for the overall ranking, instead of three.
Saturday's Grand Prix Special
It all felt like a scenario writers not even in Hollywood could have made up. Without a freestyle, the GPS was the final act of the dramatic championships. The fight for the highest honour was heartfelt and like a movie with all its ingredients for suspense.
Beatriz Ferrer Salat, José Antonio García Mena, José Daniel Martin Dockx and Juan Antonio Jiménez were the lead role actors, who all rode on Saturday.
Juan Antonio Jiménez with Euclides MOR were first to go and in their best element. The piaffe and passage part was perfection. The collection of eights and nines from the judges was gigantic. With a 76.021% he set the pace.
Next to go was Beatriz Ferrer-Salat. A great fighter with the cold focus that characterizes her so much, she went for it all. Beatriz raised the bar at the right time. She produced an exquisite part of piaffe and passage with a rhythm that was jaw-dropping. The canter part was no less: energetic and uphill. The marker showed around 75% for long, but on the last center line she made the difference and crowned herself champion by scoring 76,149%, a mark that could not be topped.
After the WOW moment these two combinations produced, the emotion did not stop. The 2022 champions, Jose Garcia Mena and his ballerina, the 13-year old Hanoverian mare Divina Royal (by Desparados x Royal Highness), did not disappoint. As usual, the chestnut mare was marvelous throughout the trot, with superb extensions, overtrack and cadence. However, once in the piaffe, there was a slight loss of rhythm, but the big trigger that made the score drop was in the one tempi diagonal in which there was a mistake. With a 73,979%, Mena distanced himself from the throne.
The last to compete and with nothing to lose was José Daniel Martin Dockx with Malagueno. The duo from Malaga once again gave their best shot. The extensions contrasted with collection exercises, that is to say elegance, delicacy, versus explosion and strength. Completing a clean test, Dockx received a score which divided the judges. The highest score was 77.872 and the lowest was 71.277%. The judge in E referred him to fifth position with that 71,277 leaving him without option for the silver medal. His final average in the Special was 75,404% and therefore the third position in the GPS.
In the end, Beatriz Ferrer-Salat increased her legendary status as Queen of Dressage in Spain, and renewzs her reign with an overall of 151,605 points after two rounds. Beatriz is the new 2023 Spanish Champion, a title which she has now captured on her fourth horse after Beauvalais (2001, 2003), Faberge (2010), and Delgado (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). With Elegance she got her third title after 2020 and 2021. The cabinets at Villa Equus now have 10 Spanish champion sashes.
The silver medal (150,891 points) went to Juan Antonio Jiménez with Euclides MOR. This metal is the second that he has achieved with the grey stallion at the highest level (2019 - bronze medal)
Breathing down Jimenez neck were bronze medal winners Dockx and Malagueño LXXXIII with only a fraction of points less: 150.709 poinrs. For the second year in a row , the P.R.E is once again at the top and on the podium Spanish Championships,
Landing just off the podium was Mena with his two competition aces Divina Royal and Sorento, as he took fourth and fifth place in the standings.
The sixth was for a horse that is going to give a lot to talk about and has just started at this level: the Lusitano Gaviao Dos Cedros ridden by Alejandro Asencio. They dazzled at Las Cadenas in the piaffe and passage part. The seventh and eighth position went to Claudio with his two mounts, Hi Rico Do Sobral and Lario. The ninth for the new star of Juan Antonio Jiménez, Quartar. Finally, Teia Hernandez and the PRE bred Romero de Trujillo closes the top 10 in his third Spanish championship.
The Iberian horse again stands out at the Spanish championships, as the top 10 had three Lusitanos and two P.R.E. It could even have been more as one of the favourites was absent: Spanish 2022 World Championship team horse and PRE stallion Quincallo de Indalo got injured before the Nationals and was withdrawn. Another familiar face absent from the championship was Juan Matute Guimon, who rode two CDI's in April with his 17-year old Quantico, but did not compete at the Nationals, the first official team selection trial for the 2023 European Championships.
Mena shines in the Small Tour
José Antonio Garcia Mena and the 9-year old Dutch warmblood bred Jumeaux (by De Niro x Vivaldi) waltzed his way to gold. This duo went from less to more. As a new combination, they made the debut in March and since then, stride by stride, they have become better and better.
With a second place in the PSG (70.882%), he paved the way to gold in the Intermediaire I with an impressive 73.000%. This stallion has it all, beauty and gaits. On the final day, Mena danced in the freestyle to the sounds of “Faded” and “Girls Like You” by Maroon 5. With 77.830% in the Kur, Mena was in his own league and grabbed the golden medal (221.712 points). Mena is the new Spanish Small Tour champion, a very important title to adds to one's professional career. It should be noted that this title is not the only one for Mena at this level, as in 2011 he won with Don Diego, in 2015 with Dragao Das Figueiras, in 2020 with Frimousse and now 2023 with Jumeaux.
Jacobo Martínez Acitores had the best ending for his partnership with the 10-year old Dutch warmblood Isabeaux VZ (by Chippendale x Johnson). Claudia Balcells, the owner of this beautiful chestnut, got pregnant last year, and Jacobo took the ride at the end of the summer. This championships was their last performance as the horse will return to his owner. The icing of the cake of this wonderful duo came with the silver medal. Jacobo fought tooth and nail to stay in the top 3. He won the PSG (71.471), dropped to fifth position in the Inter I (69.265), and in the freestyle he climbed to the third place with 74,705%. His overall score gave him the right to the second step of the podium (215.441 pts).
The winner of last year, former Under 25 team rider Júlia Alvarez with the 19-year old Hanoverian Du Pre (by Don Frederico), claimed the bronze medal (214.472)
Las Cadenas has faced one of the most complex editions of the Championship with two guests that no one wanted: rain and lightning. For this reason hats off for enduring the downpour and trying to solve the loose ends that occurred in the best possible way with conflicting opinions from everyone, but above all for trying to coordinate the management and sudden changes of the Spanish Federation that put the entire championship in jeopardy at the last moment.
Results - 2023 Spanish Dressage Championships - Camarma de Esteruelas
Small Tour (top 15)
- 1 José Antonio García Mena - Jumeaux - 70.882 73.000 77.830 --- 221.712
- 2 Jacobo Martinez Acitores Otero - Isabeau Vz - 71.471 69.265 74.705 --- 215.441
- 3 Júlia Álvarez Abad - Du Pre - 70.618 69.294 74.560 --- 214.472
- 4 Víctor Alfonso Pomares - First Choice B - 69.294 69.088 75.570 --- 213.952
- 5 Javier Higuera Carmona - Fulvius E - 69.677 67.618 74.375 --- 211.670
- 6 Juan Antonio Jiménez Cobo - Lanya El Coso - 69.794 67.382 74.205 --- 211.381
- 7 Manuel Pérez Valle - Semino Sn - 67.471 69.647 72.125 --- 209.243
- 8 Marcos Márquez Reyes - Bribon Obaton - 67.500 68.676 71.465 --- 207.641
- 9 Noelia Camañes Tomás - Kokeasy - 67.265 68.735 69.955 --- 205.955
- 10 Sonsoles Roldan Martínez - Tailormade Lets´go - 67.059 66.382 70.615 --- 204.056
- 11 Mariano Cano Tudela - Gibi - 67.118 68.412 68.280 --- 203.810
- 12 Teresa De La Puerta Valdecantos - Anum Concesur - 66.588 67.588 68.265 --- 202.441
- 13 Marta Suárez Navarro - Caprichoso Er - 67.029 66.294 67.015 --- 200.338
- 14 Tània Rodríguez Quintela - Donindex - 66.059 67.382 66.800 --- 200.241
- 15 Nekane Pomposo Palenzuela - Deja Vu - 67.588 65.912 66.360 --- 199.860
Big Tour (top 15)
- 1. Beatriz Ferrer-salat Serra Di Migni - Elegance - 75.456 76.149 --- 151.605
- 2 Juan Antonio Jiménez Cobo - Euclides Mor - 74.870 76.021 --- 150.891
- 3 José Daniel Martín Dockx - Malagueño Lxxxiii - 75.305 75.404 --- 150.709
- 4 José Antonio García Mena - Divina Royal - 73.674 73.979 --- 147.653
- 5 José Antonio García Mena - Sorento - 73.456 73.277 --- 146.733
- 6 Alejandro Asencio Méndez - Gaviao Dos Cedros - 73.022 72.085 --- 145.107
- 7 Claudio Castilla Ruiz - Hi-rico De Sobral - 70.848 72.021 --- 142.869
- 8 Claudio Castilla Ruiz - Lario De Adama De Susa - 70.652 71.170 --- 141.822
- 9 Juan Antonio Jiménez Cobo - Quartar - 71.109 69.787 --- 140.896
- 10 Teia Hernández Vila - Romero De Trujillo - 69.826 70.192 --- 140.018
- 11 Pablo Gómez Molina - Ulises De Ymas - 69.826 70.064 --- 139.890
- 12 Lucía Gallardo Muñoz - Hip by Jonhson - 70.913 68.022 --- 138.935
- 13 Juan De Dios Ramírez García - Jareño De Povedano - 69.413 69.447 --- 138.860
- 14 Javier Bretón Pérez - Barroca - 68.500 70.106 --- 138.606
- 15 Rafael Soto Rosado - Importante Ii - 68.717 69.553 --- 138.270
Jose Antonio Garcia Mena and Divina Royal Win 2022 Spanish Grand Prix Championships
Sixth Consecutive Title for Beatriz Ferrer-Salat at 2021 Spanish Dressage Championships
Cristina Wagemans Dominates 2021 Spanish Under 25 Championships
Beatriz Ferrer-Salat Claims Eighth National Title at 2020 Spanish Dressage Championships
Beatriz Ferrer-Salat Win 2019 Spanish Grand Prix Championships
Laiz Zandio and Ferrer-Salat Win the 2018 Spanish Dressage Championships
Matute Guimon and Ferrer-Salat Win 2017 Spanish Dressage Championships
Ferrer-Salat Grabs Grand Prix Title at 2016 Spanish Dressage Championships
Carmen Naesgaard Wins 2015 Spanish Grand Prix Championships
Jose Daniel Martin Dockx and Grandioso Win 2014 Spanish Grand Prix Championships
Jose Antonio Garcia Mena and Norte Win 2013 Spanish Grand Prix Championship
Martin Dockx Captures First Grand Prix Title at 2011 Spanish Championships
Beatriz Ferrer-Salat Recaptures National Title at 2010 Spanish Championships
Scores: 2009 Spanish Dressage Championships
Munoz Diaz, 2008 Spanish Grand Prix Dressage Champion
Juan Matute, 2007 Spanish Dressage Champion
Rafael Ortiz, 2006 Spanish Dressage Champion
Jimenez Wins 2005 Spanish Dressage Championships in Home Town