Felicitas Hendricks Works her Florida Magic in the Short Grand Prix at the 2023 European Under 25 Championships

Fri, 07/14/2023 - 23:15
2023 European Under 25 Championships
Felicitas Hendricks and Drombusch in the short Grand Prix at the 2023 European Under 25 Championships :: Photo © Petra Kerschbaum

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

Felicitas Hendricks continued in a commanding way in the second round of the 2023 European Under 25 Championships in Pilisjaszfalu, Hungary on Friday 14 July 2023. She produced the high score of the day in the short Grand Prix and showed her intentions to be high on the individual medal podium on Saturday.

Redemption Rides and Disappointment

Eighteen of the 36 Under 25 riders competed in the first group of the short Grand Prix which decides a first set of individual medals. While the team competition in the two previous days did not bring that much roller coaster excitement with a predictable team podium, the Short Grand Prix on the other hand offered its fair share of "redemption" rides as well as disappointments. 

Furthermore the scoring was all over the board which did not help for a complacent acceptance of the ranking. The ground jury was an experienced panel, though, including Annette Fransén Iacobaéus, Henning Lehrmann, Elisabeth Max-Theurer, Clive Halsall, and Alban Tissot.

The Short Grand Prix began on Friday afternoon in 30 ° C temperatures but most horses seemed to cope well with the heat. Immediately from the start one had to sit on the edge of a seat as some of the highest placed riders in the Intermediaire II had drawn an early starting place for Friday instead of Saturday.

Hendricks Works Her Florida Magic

Hendricks on Drombusch
German Felicitas Hendricks and her 12-year old Oldenburg gelding Drombusch (by Destano x Dimaggio) prepared for the 2023 show season by competing in Wellington, Florida in four CDI's given her plenty of exposure and mileage. French Grand Prix rider Morgan Barbançon has done the same this year and won it all in Wellington. This Florida magic has also rubbed off on Hendricks who unlocked a new level in her riding of "Drömmel."

The pair topped the board in the Intermediaire II and led Germany to team gold and also today she ended up being the highest scoring rider in the pack today with a personal best of 74.256%, placing her first provisionally after group 1 for the individual medals. 

Hendricks began her test with a square halt but her horse anticipated the trot off. The trot tour was very cadenced. The half pass zig zag had good bending and flexion, the passage was sweet, regular and rhythmical and the piaffe small but nice. The transition out of the second piaffe was hesitant. The extended walk had two hooves overtrack, the collected was correct. There could have been a bit more collection and sit in the left pirouette, but the right one was tiny. The horse was steady in the contact and head position, delivered secure two tempi's and straight ones, which could have been more ground covering and forward. Hendricks, who is trained by her uncle Christoph Koschel, finished with a very clean, straight final piaffe-passage centerline. 

Two judges had her first; two second and one third. The low score was 72.564% (3rd), the high score 75.897% (1st).

Redemption Ride

Marten Luiten on Fynona
Dutch Marten Luiten and Willeke Bos' 13-year old KWPN mare Fynona (by Ampere x Gribaldi) surged to a provisional second place with a score of 73.461%, an improvement of 2.6 % to his Inter II test (70.882%). The pair can count its lucky stars because of French judge Alban Tissot, who was totally euphoric with his 77.051%  and pulled the score much higher. His colleagues were on average 4.6% lower. One judge scored that test  71.79%, two were at 72% and one at 73%.

The sympathetic Luiten was the all-convincing European Young Riders Champions in 2021; he was a league of his own at the Europeans in Oliva Nova. At Grand Prix level, however, his mare Fynona does not leave the same commanding impression despite Marten's best efforts to pilot her through the test. 

Fynona finds the passage particularly challenging and trails with the hind legs. In piaffe she shows good intention to sit, but is kept in a tight frame so can't sufficiently rise in the withers and climb in front.  The tempi changes are still straight as a die, the pirouettes outstanding. Her trot extensions were better today than in the Intermediaire II, but there was lots of half halting going on in the transitions and it didn't look as smooth and subtle as before. The extended walk had good relaxation and overstep, the collected walk was nice and clear in the rhythm. On the final centerline Fynona ran out of steam behind.  Plenty of good things in their ride, but in the real Grand Prix movements it all looks underpowered at the moment. 

Stable Performance

Helen Erbe on Carlos
Germany's Helen Erbe was first to go in the class today and ended up third provisionally aboard the 16-year old Rhinelander gelding Carlos (by Carabas x Weltmeyer).  The pair produced a very clean, pleasing test. The passage was regular, the piaffe fairly small but with soft-footed transitions in and out, the extension were ground covering, the half passes fluent, the walk well ridden.. it was all nice, clean and good. The canter work looked very fluent and easily with super straight tempi changes. In general Carlos could be a bit more electric behind. they scored 71.385%. Her individual marks ranged from 68.462% (6th) to 73.333 (1st)

German team mate and newcomer Selina Söder also improved today with the 19-year old KWPN mare Zaire-E (by Son de Niro x Jazz). The piaffes were sweet, the passage very elegant with a better regularity. The pirouettes were small but there was a mistake in the one tempi changes. They posted 70.897% for a provisional fourth place.  She has marks between 69.231% and 73.333%

Zoe Kuintjes on Cupido
Dutch Zoë Kuintjes and the 16-year old KWPN gelding Cupido (by Rhodium x San Remo) probably showed some of the best piaffe work today. While the trot work was a bit flat, the transition into the first piaffe was very nice, the passage was sweet and the extensions good. The second piaffe was super nice: up in front and sitting behind. In the extended walk Cupido is quite limited in overtrack. The canter half pass to the left was a bit stiff, and the left pirouette big, In the two tempi changes he gaped with his mouth, but the ones were big and straight. They scored 68.984% to finish fifth provisionally. 

Rothenberger Eliminated

The hot favourite for the gold medal was Semmieke Rothenberger on her mega talented 13-year old KWPN gelding Farrington (by Jazz x Samba Hit). They had the high score of the day for a moment, as fifth to go in the class, until "eliminated" flashed on the score board. A shockwave rippled through the show grounds. During the tack check, the steward noticed there was blood as she has broken skin with her left spur. The whole scenario was reminiscent of Dujardin and Freestyle's elimination from the Grand Prix at the 2019 European Championships. 

Semmieke Rothenberger on Farrington
But first let's talk first how the test went. The halt at entry was square but a bit crooked to the right. The first piaffe was wide behind and swaying in the hindquarters, but the passage was more regular today than in the Inter II. Farrington really has pep in his step and shows much spring off the ground, but sometimes some steps are too exuberant. The second piaffe was better. The extended walk was underwhelming with not enough overtrack. The collected was well ridden with a nice 4-beat rhythm.  Rothenberger rode small pirouettes, good two tempi changes, straight ones, but again the piaffe at X was very wide behind and swaying (7.2) although the rhythm was good. 

After her elimination, a deeply disappointed Rothenberger immediately took to Instagram and wrote, "I'm eliminated because a horse fly must have bit him right under this saddle pad where my leg doesn't even touch him. It's surreal. (...) when getting off I couldn't even find the spot." She posted a photo of the spot where she skin was broken. A little later, she removed the sentence of the horse fly and the spot that isn't touched by her leg.  "It's a tough one to swallow," said the gold medal favourite. "Anyways extremely thankful to the best Farrington for delivering such an amazing round for me and his welfare is always my highest priority.(..) Driving home now and he will have his well deserved field time a few days earlier."

The top photo is from the competition, the bottom
photo Semmieke posted on her social media with a
finger to point where the spot is
It's a pity for the competition to lose such a strong contender on a fabulous horse, but rules are rules and in this current climate of social licence to operate the FEI cannot let any of these cases slip. Semmieke's time with Farrington will come. Having ridden her 11th European Youth Championships in Pilisjaszfalu, she can look back on European team gold after earning the 2023 German Under 25 Champion's title a month ago.

Photos © Petra Kerschbaum

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