Annabella Pidgley Has the Edge and Wins Individual Gold at 2023 European Young Riders Championships

Sat, 07/15/2023 - 19:23
2023 European Young Riders and Under 25 Championships
Annabella Pidgley and Espe win indvidual gold at the 2023 European Young Riders Championships :: Photo © Anett Somogyvari

- Text © Eurodressage (this article expresses Eurodressage's' eye-witness account and opinion about the competition)
- Photos © Anett Somogyvari & Petra Kerschbaum

British Annabella Pidgley had the edge and claimed a historic individual gold medal for Great Britain at the 2023 European Young Riders Championships in Pilisjaszfalu, Hungary on Saturday noon 15 July 2023. 

As penultimate rider to go in the class, the 18-year old Briton was the only rider able to outscore Germany's Valentina Pistner, the overnight leader in the ranking of the individual test after Friday. The 54 competitors were split into two groups with the class taking place over two days to decide the individual medals

Pidgley Has the Golden Edge

As the high scorer in the team championship test on Thursday, assisting Great Britain in winning team bronze, the Windsor based Annabella Pidgley was the hot favourite for individual gold. Aboard the 9-year old Westfalian mare Espe (by Escolar x Dimaggio).

Pidgley and Espe produced a very stable, energetic ride with a very consistent silhouette in all three gaits. The trot tour lacked a bit of attention to detail as the focused seemed on riding all the trot parts, extensions and lateral movements with a lot of forward go. The mouth looked tense at the start, the corners were not all ridden nicely and the shoulder in right was stopped way before the marker. In the trot extensions the mare gets wide behind, but she lengthens the stride well and is very cadenced. There was good balance on the voltes but there could have been a bit more flexion. The extended walk had good relaxation but the overstep was only sufficient halfway on the short diagonal. In the medium and collected walk she became peacocky (score 6.0 - 8.0). The three and four tempi changes were ground covering and jumped through the body, but the tendency could be more uphill. The pirouette were super nice and small.  There was one "big" mistake in her test: Espe made an unscripted flying change in the final extended canter which Pidgley quickly corrected and fortunately for her four judges didn't even see it and scored it 8.0. German judge Elke Ebert had her glasses on and gave it a 4.0.

Annabella Pidgley on Espe
The judges' panel consisted of  Vincenzo Truppa (ITA), Eva-Maria Vint-Warmington (EST), Olivier Smeets (BEL),  Gabriela Valeriánová (CZE), and Elke Ebert (GER). They rewarded Pidgley with a winning, personal best score of 76.941%. Four judges had her first, one second.  The individual marks ranged from 74.853% to 78.382%.

For Pidgley the individual gold is a major personal victory in her young career as a dressage rider. After earning silver at the 2021 European Junior Riders Championships on Sultans des Paluds, and silver at the 2022 European Young Riders Championships with Espe, she now has her gold; a first individual medal for a Brit at a European Young Rider Championships. Pidgley is trained by double Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin.

"I'm simply speechless," Pidgley took to Instagram. "A dream come true to become European Champion." She also directed some words to her horse Espe, "thank you for being such a joy to ride today and for giving your heart to all that we do together. I love you more than words. We enjoy this moment together."

Valentina Pistner Relegated to Silver

Germany's Valentina Pistner had to wait all morning to see if Pidgley would push her from the highest step of the podium, which she did. 

The individual medal podium: Pistner, Pidgley, Lang
On Friday the Bad Homburg based Valentina Pistner delivered a commanding ride on her 15-year old Oldenburg gelding Flamboyant (by Fidertanz x De Niro) which earned her a personal best score of 75.559% (see a detailed description of her test here). 

For Valentina the silver must have been a boost for her confidence.  Coached by Stefanie Lugge-Kerner since November 2016, Valentina and Flamboyant have been a fixture on the German youth teams In 2018 they won triple silver at the European Junior Riders Championships, in 2019 it was team gold and double bronze, and in 2020 they collected team and Kur gold and individual test silver. A 2.5-year break from international competition followed as Flamboyant got injured. They returned to the CDI arena at Young Riders level in April 2023 and immediately found their form, resulting in team selection and today, the European reserve champion's title.

"The best feeling I've had in a long time," a thrilled Pistner stated. "What a success for our first European Championship as young rider. Thanks to my beloved Flambi for giving me your all."

Jana Lang and 17-year old Baron picked up the bronze medal with 74.059%

Danish Push for an Individual Medal

Denmark had three more of its team gold medal winning riders competing today and it was interesting to see if any of them could top team mate Alexander Yde Helgstrand's 73.529% score which he posted on Friday

Sophia Ludvigsen and Blue Hors Elliott
Sophia Ludvigsen and the 9-year old Danish bred Blue Hors Elliott (by Erlando x Romanov) coped with the pressure of being the last rider to go in the team and secure a high enough score for Denmark to win team gold on Thursday. Today she improved her act even more and presented a very nicely controlled and balanced trot tour, ridden in a good tempo. The rein back was a bit tense and in the extensions there could be a bit more lengthening of frame. The tempi changes were controlled and fluent, the pirouettes nice and small although the right one was a bit tight in the neck. The end halt was wide behind. They scored 73.206% to lend 6th place in the end. 

Frederikke Gram Jacobsen and her 13-year old Danish mare Ryvangs Zafina (by Zack x Come Back II) began the test a bit unsteady in the contact, but settled soon. The half passes had nice crossing, the extended walk was quite limited today with barely overtrack despite the good relaxation (6.7). Zafina struggled a little in the counter canter right, but the pirouettes showed a good ability to collect and the four tempi changes were nice. They scored 71.559% for 7th place. 

Kristian Wurtz Green and the 11-year old Bovbjergs Zhivago (by Romanov x Don Schufro) placed 10th with 71.206%. The tall long legged gelding produced a good rein back and showed good energy and glow in trot, both on the voltes and in the traversal movements. The extended walk had to hooves overstep but was not the clearest in the rhythm. The collected walk was iffy. They rode good half pirouettes and ground covering fours. 

This meant that Alexander Yde Helgstrand finished just off the podium in fourth place and Dutch Shanna Baars landed the fifth spot on Farzana G with 73.265%.

Quick Notes

Anna Middelberg on Blickfang
Dutch Robin Heiden and her 12-year old home bred KWPN gelding Gasmonkey (by Tuschinski x Ferro) were 8th with 71.471%. Heiden had her horse in a beautiful frame: long in the neck, poll highest point, but today they couldn't find that crisp cadence in trot and there was a mistake in the three tempi changes. 

German Anna Middelberg and the 12-year old Hanoverian Blickfang HC (by Belissimo M x Brentano II) produced fluent trot work, the collected walk was a bit short, the four tempi's striaght, but in the threes the head of the horse should stay straighter. Nice test. They were 9th with 71.412%.

Swedish young rider champion Hedda Thunberg and the 15-year old Swedish bred Diva (by Richfield x Silvano) placed 11th with 70.941%. The mare is very lighfooted and rhythmical in trot, but ideally the poll should be the highest point (with the nose a bit more out) instead of having the joint between the second and third vertebra as highest point. The rein back was well executed and the right pirouette was a highlight in her test. She scored 70.941% for 11th place. 

Lucie-Anouk Baumgurtel on Ferati
German Lucie-Anouk Baumgurtel rode one of the youngest horses in the field, the 8-year. old Hanoverian Ferati (by Furst Belissaro x Del Piero) and probably presented her horse in one of the best frames of all with the lightest contact. A real treat. She scored 70.794% for 12th place. 

On Sunday the 2023 European Young Riders Championships come to a conclusion with the kur to usic finals in which another set of medals is to be won. The top 18 ranked riders move to the freestyle, but only three per nation get to compete, so Baumgurtel and Wurtz Green are out

Photos © © Anett Somogyvari  - Petra Kerschbaum

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