Team Denmark Counters Germany's Golden Grasp with Consistency at 2023 European Young Riders Championships

Thu, 07/13/2023 - 18:56
2023 European Young Riders and Under 25 Championships
Team gold for Denmark at the 2023 European Young Riders Championships: Kristian Wurtz Green, Sophia Ludvigsen, Frederikke Gram Jacobsen, Alexander Yde Helgstrand on the highest step of the podium:: Photo © Petra Kerschbaum

- Text © Eurodressage (this article expresses Eurodressage's' eye-witness account and opinion about the competition)

The Danish team countered Germany's grasp on gold with consistency and captured the highest step of the podium in the team championship competition at the 2023 European Young Riders Championships in Pilisjaszfalu, Hungary. 

Delayed Start

The team competition came to a conclusion on Thursday afternoon 13 July 2022 with the second group of riders performing the team test, the Prix St Georges.

The first two rotations competed on Wednesday in 30 ° C hot temperatures, but after midnight it started to rain in Pilisjaszfalu and by the start of the class at 8 am Thursday morning, it was still pouring, which led to issues with the electricity at the venue.  

The test was delayed by three hours to give enough time for the technical issues to be resolved and ring maintenance to be carried out. By 11 AM, it was dry, sunny, and all puddles in the arena had disappeared on the all-weather footing. 

Nail Biter Till the End, Gold for Denmark

Sophia Ludvigsen brings home gold for Denmark
The Young Riders team competition turned out to be a nail biter until the end. The last rider to go was Denmark's Sophia Ludvigsen, who carried all the weight on her shoulders as the colour of the medal depended on her performance.  She had to score at least 73.030% to secure gold for her country.

Aboard the 9-year old Danish warmblood Blue Hors Elliot (by Erlando x Romanov), Ludvigsen delivered a very convincing ride that featured nice trot extensions and very balanced and fluenced trot work. The collected walk was good, although the right walk pirouette was iffy. The extended walk was super. In the left canter pirouette he lost the balance a bit, the right one was better. They produced nice four tempi changes and canter extensions; but the flying change came three strides too early to the market, a lack of accuracy and a habit that many of Europe's top young riders showed today. 

Ludvigsen scored 73.118% and secured the team gold for Denmark. That mark ranked her fourth in the test. 

Frederikke Gram Jacobsen on Ryvangs Zafina
Denmark's consistency was more than obvious as all four team riders ranked in the top seven: places four, five, six and seven. Alexander Yde Helgstrand and Belantis (by Benetton Dream x Expose), who rode on Wednesday, was fifth with 72.853%, while the third contributing score came from team routinier Frederikke Gram Jacobsen on the 13-year old Danish mare Ryvangs Zafina (by Zack x Come Back II). 

Jacobsen's sympathetic bay mare Zafina got rather quick in the extensions and slightly hurried on the left lead, but had good reach in the half passes and overall delivered a very stable performance. The collected walk was good, the extended had good relaxation, even though the overstep was not the greatest. The pirouettes were nice, but the first stride  was quite to the side. The fours were very fluent 4x, in the threes the hindquarters swing to the right. Her final flying change on the extended canter diagonal was also very early to the marker.They scored 72.647%

Denmark's drop score was still a very impressive 72.118% ridden by Kristian Wurtz Green on Bovbjergs Zhivago (by Romanov x Don Schufro). 

Denmark's team total was 218.618 points. 

Germany Sent to Silver Position

Germany performed below expectations as they are usually rock solid in riding mistake free tests. Not this year though and there were quite some scoring discrepancies between the judges to boot.

The panel for the team test included Olivier Smeets, Vincenzo Truppa, Elke Ebert, Eva-Maria Vint-Warmington, and Gabriela Valeriánová and they gave Jana Lang and her 17-year old Baron (by Johnson x Krack C) 74.382%. Their scores went from 72.794% to 75.882%. The big mistake in the four tempi changes was scored between 4.0 and 7.0.

Lucie-Anouk Baumgurtel on Ferati
Wednesday's top ride of the day came from Valentina Pistner on Flamboyant (by Fidertanz x De Niro) and her score of 73.559% was still good enough for a third place on Thursday.

Germany's third score came from former European pony champion and 2021 European Junior Riders Champion Lucie-Anouk Baumgurtel. Horse Hugo has been her partner in crime in 2021 and 2022 at the Europeans in Hartpury, but he hasn't been shown since October 2022 so this year Lucie brought along a new ride, the 8-year old Hanoverian Ferati (by Furst Belissaro x Del Piero). The bay gelding has a lot of reach in the half passes, and showed big extensions with the nose out. there could have been a bit more collection in the corner as she flew into the right shoulder in. The other movements were more polished. Ferati produced good collected walk but lacked some activity in the right walk pirouette. The extended walk was very nice and active with a clear V-moment. Two big mistakes crept into the canter tour: she lost the canter stride in the left pirouette and he dropped out of the canter before the final halt. With 70.588% they were fourteenth.

Germany's drop score was 70.471% (Anna Middelberg on Blickfang HC) and the team total was 218.529% for silver. 

Great Britain Gets Bronze

Annabella Pidgley on Espe
Last year Sweden pushed for power at the 2022 European Young Riders Championships in Hartpury (GBR) to relegate the home team to a fourth place. This year Britain is on the podium (215.500), while Sweden ended up fifth (211.676) behind The Netherlands (214.500)

Annabella Pidgley delivered a confident ride on the 9-year old Westfalian mare Espe (by Escolar x Dimaggio) and topped the leaderboard with a personal best of 75.147%, the high score of the day. The gorgeous bay mare Espe is an active horse, showing much forward energy and willingness. In the extensions she leaned on the bit though and opened the mouth. On the left lead she appeared more fluent on the volte and with more reach in the half pass than on the right. Espe's collected walk is peculiar and prancy (score 6.5) but she showed good walk pirouettes. The extended had plenty of overtrack and relaxation. The canter pirouettes were good, the right one a bit big. There was good expression in the tempi changes, but the mouth opened at times. Also here the flying change after the well executed extended canter was way too early on the marker.  The judges scored her between 73.382% and 76.167%. 

Bronze for Great Britain
Britain's second team score came from the first starter of the day, Jessica McConkey on the 14-year old Danish mare Lady Gaga (by Quaterback x Solos Landwind). This big mare got good cadence in trot but could take more weight on the hindquarters so the tendency is more uphill both in trot and canter? McConkey rides her with rather straight arms and flat hands, especially walk. The collected walk was well regulated. The tempi changes were straight.  The extended canter good, but hey look at that, the flying change was three strides too early? Maybe it's my pet peeve of the day.  She got 70.941% from the judges. 

With Lily Laughton's 69.412% added, Great Britain finished third overall. Their drop score was 69.029% (India Durman-Mills). 

Worth Noting

Hedda Thunberg on Diva
The highest scoring rider that did not end up on the team podium was Sweden's Hedda Thunberg on the 15-year old Swedish mare Diva (by Richfield x Silvano). She totalled 71.912% and landed eighth place. The trot was lightfooted and cadenced with big extensions and good reach in the half passes. The flying change at X was in two phases. The canter pirouettes were small, the tempi solid. 

Top scoring Dutch rider was Shanna Baars on the 13-year old Farzana G (by Ampere x Florencio) with a personal best of 71.706% but the individual marks went from 69.559% to 74.559%. Farzana delivered big trot extensions that were a bit hurried. There was good ground cover in the half passes. The collected walk was very edgy in the rhythm.  The extended walk had good overtrack, but there could have been more V in the rhythm. The pirouettes were nice and the tempi changes clean. A polished test. 

Jette de Jong on Heavenly Charming
Belgium's number one Grand Prix rider Jette de Jong had an off day as her home bred 11-year old KWPN geding Heavenly Charming (by Charmeur x United) threw the tongue over the bit and could not get in back in place. Unfortunately in many movements the tongue came out smearing white fluffy foam all over the right side of his mouth. He obediently executed all the movements though with big expressive, fluent changes. New chance in the next test.

Photos © Petra Kerschbaum

Related Links
Scores: 2023 European Young Rider / Under 25 Championships
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2023 European Young Riders/Under 25 Championships