- Text © Eurodressage (this article expresses Eurodressage's' eye-witness account and opinion about the competition)
Valentina Pistner has put team Germany in the lead of the team championship competition on day one of the 2023 European Young Riders Championships at Stable Unikornis in Pilisjaszfalu, Hungary, 12 July 2023.
For the third time in four years, Europe's elite youth riders gathered in Pilisjaszfalu, a tiny hamlet on the outskirts of Budapest. With temperatures of 31,5 ° C at 8 AM in the morning, the team competition took a hot start with the first group of young riders competing in two rotations in the morning in the team championship test. Tomorrow the second group of riders goes which will decide the team medals.
Germany Leads the Way
Germany took the lead after day one with a high score earning ride by Valentina Pistner on her 15-year old Oldenburg Flamboyant (by Fidertanz x De Niro). The 2020 European junior champion pair had an almost three year break from international competition due to an injury but came back in April 2023 and immediately returned on the German team.
Pistner's Flamboyant has three outstanding basic gaits and they score above average notes especially thanks to the fabulous movements of her horse. They produced big trot extensions, an outstanding extended walk with two hooves overtrack, big ground covering tempi change and an uphill extended canter. In the trot work the reins were long and the hands often backwards working. there could have been more flexion in the corners. Also in the flying changes the rider should stay more centered in the saddle for a prettier overall picture. The canter pirouettes were slightly big and the collected walk looked more medium. The canter half passes were well ridden.
The judges' panel for the team test consists of Olivier Smeets (BEL), Vincenzo Truppa (ITA), Elke Ebert (GER), Eva-Maria Vint-Warmington (EST), and Gabriela Valeriánová (CZE), and they rewarded the high score of the day to Pistner, a 73.559%. Individually the judges were not in agreement as both judges on the long side saw a totally opposite picture: the low score was 71.765%, the thigh score 75.294%, with German judge Elke Ebert nearing that high score with her 74.853%. Four judges had her first, one second.
Team Ranking Based on One Score
The calculation of the team score halfway through the team competition is quite odd, as the score website automatically generates the second ride of the day as a drop score, instead of producing the average of the first two results and waiting until tomorrow to see which the drop score will be.
According to this system, Germany is in the lead with Valentina's 73.559%. Germany's second score of the day was 70.471% ridden by team routinier Anna Middelberg on her 12-year old Hanoverian Blickfang HC (by Belissimo M x Brentano II)
Denmark Joins the Chase
Team Denmark currently stands second with a high score of 72.853%, ridden by Alexander Yde Helgstrand on the 14-year old Brandenburger bred Belantis (by Benetton Dream x Expose). He also places second in the provisional individual ranking, while Denmark's Kristian Würtz Green and the 11-year old Danish bred Bovbjergs Zhivago (by Romanov x Don Schufro) are third with a personal best of 72.118%. If you were to average the two Danish scores you would get 72.485%, which is higher than the average of the two German scores (72.01%). Oh well.. all will be decided tomorrow anyway.
Helgstrand's Belantis is a beautiful grey gelding with a lot of shoulder freedom, but in the extensions the horse needs to gain more overtrack instead of just reaching out with the frontlegs. The cadence and rhythm was more clear on the right lead than the left one and overall there could be a bit more flexion on the voltes. The collected walk had a lot of overtrack, and in the left walk pirouette the horse could have been a bit quicker behind, but the extended walk was lovely. The left canter pirouette was quite big in the beginning, the right one a bit counter bent. Belantis produces wonderful, scopey flying changes but some issues crept into the four-tempi diagonal. They finished with a nice uphill canter extension. Overall one would like to see the curb rein held lighter so the mouth stays more closed. The pair scored between 71.765% and 74.412%
Kristian Würtz Green has his Zhivago in a lovely frame, up in front and very quiet in the contact. Unfortunately, the rider raced through the corner with hardly and flexion or bending. The extensions were well ridden, but the horse could even be more secure in the rhythm. The shoulder in right was on four to five tracks, but there was very nice crossing in the half passes. The collected walk did not have the greatest rhythm and came close to ambling despite its activity (6.2).The extended walk had good ground cover. The pirouettes scored between 5.5 and 7.5.
The Dutch in Bronze Position
Team The Netherlands currently stands in bronze medal position thanks to a personal best score ridden by Rowena Weggelaar aboard the 15-year old KWPN bred Don Quichot (by United x Gribaldi). This pair earned 71.676% which put them fourth individually, so far. Weggelaar has been competing her bay gelding at junior level since 2022 and moved to young riders in November 2022 after competing on the Dutch team at the 2022 European Junior Riders Championships in Hartpury, where they were 7th in the freestyle final
Holland's second results was a personal best of 70.059% for Chiel van Bedaf on the 8-year old KWPN bred Key West Texel (by Toto Jr x Ferro). Van Bedaf had to wait six years to return on the Dutch team. He represented The Netherlands at the 2017 European Children Championships in Roosendaal and is now back as a young rider. His young Key West Texel appeared quite established in the Prix St Georges work with very nice canter half pirouettes, a well ridden left volte and good extended walk. Overall the bridle contact could be lighter so that the horse shows better self carriage.
Sweden Keeps Up with the Pace
The highest ranked rider from a different nation than the top three was Swedish Emma Kaberg on the 13-year old Swedish bred Carla (by Skovens Rafael x Richfield). Her personal best score of 70.088% ranks her sixth individually and puts Sweden in fourth place so far.
Sweden's second rider, Mary Sophie Haid Bondergaard, is in 8th place with a personal best of 69.676%. She rode the 13-year old Hanoverian mare Adora Nightingale (by Ampere x Regazzoni) through a very secure canter tour with lovely, big flying changes. The right walk and canter pirouette both had some issues which affected the score.
Between 9th and 15th place are riders from Italy, Great Britain, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland, all with results between 69.5 and 68.6%.
Italy' s Maria Vittoria Duranti and the Italian bred Hanoverian Bionika di Fonteabeti (by Wynton x Gribaldi) have moved from juniors in 2020 to Young Riders in 2021 and made it on the team for the Europeans in Oliva Nova that year. They didn't make it to Hartpury but are now back on the team in Pilisjaszfalu and placed ninth so far with 69.529%
After five years in international youth sport, British Lily Laughton finally made it onto the team with evergreen Skovborgs Romadinov, a 17-year old Danish warmblood by Romanov x Mago xx who was for years one of Denmark's leading youth horse under Sara Aagaard Hyrm. The pair scored 69.412% on their team debut and ranks 10th provisionally.
Some of the nicest riding of the day came from Spaniard Javier Guillen Callejas who is in his first year as a young rider on the 11-year old PRE Resuelto AS (by Barquero XXVI x Italico As). The dark bay does not have the biggest gaits to score the highest marks, but was presented in such a beautiful, quiet way. All balanced, never rushed, nice in the bridle with the right amount of foam. There was some super nice riding in the tempi changes, consistently giving hand so the horse does not shorten the neck even more.
Photos © Petra Kerschbaum
Scores: 2023 European Young Rider / Under 25 Championships
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2023 European Young Riders/Under 25 Championships