Jemma Heran Draws Attention of Australian Selectors with First CDI Win at 2024 Palm Beach Derby

Fri, 03/01/2024 - 17:44
2024 Palm Beach Derby
Jemma Heran and Saphira Royal at the 2024 Palm Beach Dressage Derby :: Photo © Astrid Appels

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

Australian Jemma Heran drew the attention of her national team selectors in this Olympic year after booking her second international 70% score and her first career victory as a senior Grand Prix rider at the 2024 Palm Beach Dressage Derby in Wellington, Florida. 

On the opening day of competition on 29 February 2024 in the morning feature class, the CDI 3* Grand Prix for Special, the 27-year old Heran bested a field of 21 competitors in front of judges Magnus Ringmark, Carlos Lopes, Clive Halsall, Elisabeth Max-Theurer, and Katrina Wüst.

Epic Mare

With her own 15-year old Rhinelander mare Saphira Royal (by San Amour x Monteverdi) she scored a winning 70.717%, which was a personal best score. Four judges had her first, one judge fourth. Their marks ranged from 69.457% to a whopping 73.152%. The pair rode very elegant half passes. The first piaffe travelled too much forward and also in the third piaffe she shuffled into it. The passage is delightful, the two tempi changes were lovely as well as the extended canter. A mistake in the one tempi changes affected the score. Overall the mare is a very graceful mover but often flexed to one side. More straightness and overall relaxation will make the score soar higher. 

"Today she was amazing. She was full of energy, super fit and ready to go," said Jemma. "We had a little mistake in the ones, but she looked up at the crowd and she’s just so epic. She tries her heart out for me like not many other horses I’ve ridden.”

Jemma and Saphira Royal
Heran has been riding the mare for over a year. "“I saw her at a show in Europe and I thought she was spectacular,” explained Heran. “She was small-ish, elegant, super flashy moving, fine boned — my style of horse," she said. 

This is also the second year that Jemma has been spending in Wellington, Florida, working with trainer Frederic Wandres, followed by a summer stay at Hof Kasselmann in Germany. With Australia having qualified a team for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, three spots are up for grabs for Australians to ride in the gardens of the palace of Versailles and the ability to score over 70% will be a necessity to be considered by the Australian selectors. At the moment multi-Olympian Mary Hanna is on course with Ivanhoe, as well as her student Jessica Dertell, while in Europe Simone Pearce has an iron in the fire in her Tokyo ride Destano. The Oatley cousins are yet to make their 2024 show debut, but there are more contenders on European soil (Jayden Brown, Maree Tomkinson, Hayley Beresford, Warwick McLean to name just a few...)

“This season’s been really good,” said Heran, referring to strong placings in previous weeks. “Being here gives us the opportunity to show and show and show and we’re really getting to know each other in the ring. When I moved to Europe we trained for the first 12 months, so this is our first back-to-back showing stint. In the past we haven’t really had that ability, and we can now take that to Europe and continue on. If the Olympics happens it happens, and I don’t want to jinx anything, but that would be amazing."

Trainer Edged Out

Heran edged out her trainer Frederic Wandres (GER), who settled for second, riding Dressage Family LLC  (= Hof Kasselmann) and Elisabeth Morell’s Dutch warmblood gelding Joy Game (by Davino VOD x Gribaldi) to 69.913% at the horse’s debut CDI.

Frederic Wandres on Joy Game
At just 10 years old, the gelding was the youngest horse in the class and he showed plenty of promise but was very green. The judges were a bit all over the place with their scores, seemingly distracted by what was presented in the ring and what is possible in the future. The marks wen from 67.935% to 72.935%. 

Joy Game is a gorgeous horse, lovely neck and face and a real eye catcher in the ring. He couldn't hide his young age as he relied heavily on his rider to carry him through the test. The mouth was not always ideal and he tossed his head in the half pass left, or crossed behind in the first piaffe. But the gelding grew in the test and the second piaffe-passage was much better, the extended canter was very uphill and in principle the tempi changes are fabulous: ground covering, uphill, expressive, but there were mistakes in both the ones and the twos.  With time this horse can certainly be developed into a worthy successor of Wandres' Olympic hope, Bluetooth.

Clan of Canadians

The Olympic fire is also burning with the clan of Canadians that traditionally winter in Florida. They are challenging each other for those three highly coveted team spots and in the 3* Grand Prix places three and four went to Canadians on personal best scores. 

Denielle and Come Back de Massa
Danielle Gallagher posted 69.239% on her own and Ellen Lazarus’s 12-year-old Lusitano Come Back De Massa (by Galopin De La Font x Quixote SDS), with Camille Carier Bergeron slotting into fourth with the 14-year-old Fidertanz mare Finnländerin (69.087%). 

Gallagher and her buckskin Lusitano stood out with outstanding piaffe-passage work. The horse looks happy in his work and comfortable in the collected movements. He has wonderful, uphill tempi changes but has a busy tail in them. Bergeron and Finnlanderin presented a very consistent picture with nice passage but in piaffe the mare does not properly close and take the weight. The two tempi changes were nice and also the zig zag until the final change before C. A mistake in the one tempi changes probably kept them from (coming close to) the win.

Both Gallagher and Carier Bergeron left the arena with a personal best score and firmly putting them in the Canadian Olympic team race. 

Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED / NO SCREEN SHOTS for social media

If interested in photos, please send me an email. Florida rates apply for this horse show as our colleague Sue Stickle is the official photographer

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