Germany has taken a comfortable lead in the team competition at the 2023 European Junior Riders Championships in Kronberg (GER) on the first day of competition on 19 July 2023. Germany's first two of four riders have settled into a provisional first and second place with solid 73% scores. Denmark and Great Britain are chasing the home team for podium places.
So We Begin
The 2023 European Children and Junior Riders Championships kicked off today at Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff's mind-blowingly beautiful home and stable, Schafhof, on the outskirts of the buzzy German financial hub of Frankfurt.
While the horse inspection yesterday took place in boiling hot temperatures, today the weather was more mild and a short heavy rain shower in the afternoon even delayed the class by ten minutes after Italian rider Carlotta Vallarella had to flee into the indoor school with Jaquar as the gusts of rain and wind were so strong for a a few minutes. The odds were also against Belgian Ine Blommaert was faced another challenge when her horse Joy Forever lost a shoe shortly before her ride. The problem was soon fixed after her ride was delayed by ten minutes.
The judges panel consisting of Hans Voser, Marietta Almasy, Alice Schwab, Agnieszka Majewska, and Katrina Wüst have heavy task at hand sorting out a field of no less than 70 junior riders. Sixteen countries are competing in the nationals ranking.
Germany In Front
The German junior riders immediately set a high pace as the first starter in the junior team test, team rookie Josephine Ruppert on the 10-year old Bavarian home bred Bella Donna (by Belissimo M x Dimaggio), scored a personal best of 73.242% which provisionally ranks her second. In trot the horse was nice and steady in the bridle but hurried a bit in the first lengthening and the rhythm was not so secure on the left volte. The walk pirouettes were beautiful, the extended walk had good clarity but the horse stayed a bit high in the poll and the flying changes were well executed.
Later in the afternoon team routinier Lana-Pinou Baumgurtel and the 9-year old Westfalian mare Emma (by Escolar x Laurentianer) added the cream on the top by riding the high score of the day: 73.394%. The well muscled chestnut mare showed a very cadenced trot with a lot of power from behind and expression, but there was a loss of rhythm in the extensions, and the mare occasionally ground her teeth. The rein back was slightly tense and she got also stuck with one foot in the right walk pirouette, but the half pass left was a highlight.
The two young girls put Germany in a comfortable lead in the nations' ranking with 146,636 points (their two scores totalled).
Denmark Chasing Silver
The Danish team is currently standing in second place after a high energy, high speed ride from another seasoned team rider, Annabelle Rehn aboard the 11-year old Danish bred Vestervangs Garson (by De Noir x Ragazzo). Rehn, who is based in Singapore but regularly travels to Denmark to ride, redeemed herself today after a not so successful 2022 European Championships in Hartpury, where her flamboyantly marked bay gelding saw ghosts. Rehn pushed the pedal to the metal and rode the entire trot tour in medium trot, which generated a very energetic look, but one wishes to see more collection and carriage. The halt for rein back was well ridden, but Garson lost the impulsion before the walk pirouette. The flying changes were fluent. They scored a personal best of 73.212% and are provisionally third.
Danish team new comer Theresa Rosenkilde and the 12-year old Danish bred Blue Hors Zwobber (by. Zack x Romanov) lacked a bit of polish in their European Championship premier. The established small tour horse and their rider are still computing their partnership. The right volte appeared quite big, the half passes could have had more crossing and one trot extension was not regular in the rhythm. The extended walk, however, had two hooves overtrack and a clear rhythm and the uphill extended canter was the high point. They scored 68.970% for 11th place so far.
Great Britain Solid
The morning began with a nail biter for Team Great Britain as their junior team newcomer, Isla Sully and Vagabond de Massa, were up for re-inspection after failing the jog yesterday. Fortunately the pair passed and they went to prove great maturity in the arena but producing a very confident test.
The 14-year old Sully, who combines FEI pony level sport with junior riders, rode the 14-year old Lusitano bred Vagabond de Massa (by Rieto x Xaqiero) to a personal best score of 71.121% and ranks fourth provisionally. The pair rode a very cadenced trot tour with a superb shoulder in and half pass right. The rein back was a bit rushed, but the extended walk had two hooves overtrack and a good rhythm. The bay Lusitano could be lighter in the bridle though and in canter gets tight in the topline and loses the clarity in the 3-beat striding, but the flying changes were very secure. The judges were very divided over Isla's ride. The low score was 68.485% (Schwab), the high score 74.091% (Almasy).
Team rookie Ruby Hughes piloted her parents and Julia Horning's Grand Prix horse Goldstrike (by Tango x Krack C) to a 70.455% score. The chestnut was quit fidgety in the mouth and had a tense, trembling lip, but he produced very nice half passes and fluent, uphill flying changes. The extended walk was a bit limited in ground cover. The duo ranks sixth so far.
The Seventies Club
Swiss Layla Schmid and Daniel von Arx' 12-year old Oldenburg bred Freek d'Arx (by Floriscount x Don Frederico) completed the top five with 70.939%. The petite Schmidt and her tall, leggy chestnut gelding showed off big trot extensions and good crossing in the half passes. The horse grounds its teeth though and in the extended walk had two hooves overtrack, but little V-moment in the rhythm. The horse has a big canter and easily strode into the seventies club inthe team test.
Swedish Maja Hermansson and her 10-year old Oldenburg bred Furstenhit (by Furstenball x Sandro Hit) landed seventh place with 70.334% and had Warendorf based Hungarian Antonia Richter on the 11-year old Westfalian Fior da Liso (by Floribot x Donnerschlag) right behind her) on 70.303%. Furstenhit stood out with strong canter work, Fior da Liso was very quiet and soft in the contact. Richter never overasked the horse and he showed soft-footed trot work.
Nine riders scored over 70 percent so far, the 9th being Austrian Katharina Zajic on the 12-year old Hanoverian Fidelio (by Floriscount x Lauries Crusador xx). This pair produced good flying changes but the connection in the bridle should be more steady.
A ride that was rather underscored was that of Croatian Tonka Zitkovic on the 14-year old Rhinelander Beltano (by Belissimo M x Weltmeyer). The pair produced such a nice quiet round, very fluent and soft looking. The halt for rein back was really nice. In the extended walk the horse got a bit unsteady in the head position and one flying change was in two phases. They ended up with 66.576% (23rd).
The Dutch team had an off-day today with both its horses being very spooky in the arena. Anniek van Dulst, who stepped in as reserve for Yasmin Westerink, struggled from the start to get her talented 8-year old KWPN gelding Kadanz (by Charmeur x Negro) settled. He was very distracted and tense in the top line (67.424%). Lara van Nek, who is riding her fifth European Championships on 13-year old KWPN mare Fariska (by Vivaldi x Nourejev), had to keep the lid on the cooker of her redhead. Fariska spooked in the halt at X and took off in the first flying change (67.879%).
Tomorrow the second ground op riders competes in the team test which will decide the medal podium.
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Eurodressage Coverage of the 2023 European Children / Junior Riders Championships