Vanagaite Wins World Cup Qualifier, Riders Chasing Olympic MER at 2024 CDI-W Olomouc

Thu, 05/30/2024 - 12:53
2024 CDI-W Olomouc
Justina Vanagaite and Nabab win the 2204 CDI-W World Cup Qualifier in Olomouc :: Photo © Lukasz Kowalski

-- by Agata Grosicka, edited by Eurodressage - Photos © Lukasz Kowalski

The Czech town of Olomouc hosted a CDI-W World Cup qualifier for the third time on 23 - 26 May 2024.  Olomouc was one of the last chances for some GP riders to score the desirable MER’s for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games but also an opportunity for some GP riders to get their first points in the Central European World Cup League  the May edition of the CDI-W Mariakalnok (HUN) has been moved to August and the CDI-W Pilisjaszfalu took over as CEL kick-off event for 2024-2025.

Vanagaite Picks up World Cup Points

The rider who got what she came here for, was newly wed Lithuanian Justina Vanagaite-Samuile who won the Friday’s GP and Saturday’ GP Freestyle scoring 68,565% and 75,685%. 

“It is my second time here and I’m really happy to be back in Olomouc," said Vanagaite. "The venue, the organizers, the judges, the audience – everybody is amazing here. I had to choose between here and CDI Parnu which is closer to my place, but to be honest I like the atmosphere here much better. It’s a bit farther for me but everything is perfectly organized here - from the ground to the sky. It’s our first outdoor show this season for me and Nabab – on the first day he was a bit tired maybe because of the trip and the weather conditions. My last show was in Riyad where we had air-conditioning. In Lithuania we did not have such hot weather so that’s why he was a little bit off on the first day. In th Freestyle he was much better and I did not do a long warm-up. It’s always tricky with horses. Sometimes you do a long warm-up, sometimes less and you never know what is the mood of your horse today. Generally I’m really glad that I made a decision to come here."

Spectators at the CDI-W Olomouc
Vanagaite has four shows doing her belt in three months time, including the 2024 World Cup Finals in Riyadh. She is now preparing her 11-year old Belgian warmblood gelding Nabab (by Sir Donovan x Krack C) for the Olympics as Lithuania picked up an individual slot. At the same time she's looking ahead to the 2025 World Cup Final in Basel (SUI).

"We have two months to go before Paris Olympic Games and I would love to go to one more show, I still don’t know where. There is one show in Latvia really close to me in two weeks, yet it is still a little too far to the Olympics and too close to this show. I’m still thinking where and when to go," said Justina who is plotting her route. "I make all the decisions by myself and in the end all responsibility and pressure go on me. I have to be clever and really think about it. Till this show I had everything planned and according to schedule. Now I don’t know what the last show before Olympics’s gonna be and where I will compete right after Paris. I simply focus more on the Olympics and we will see how it goes.” 

Torkkeli Chasing Selection Scores

One of the riders who made a successful debut at a Central European show was Canadian 2022 WEG Team rider Ryan Torkkell who brought two horses to Olomouc: 18-year old GP horse Sternenwanderer (by Lord Loxley x Ragazzo) and 16-year old medium tour horse Fantastic Snoop-Dog (by San Amour x Fidermark).

Ryan Torkkeli on Sternenwanderer
With his GP horse Ryan won GP for Special and GP Special scoring 67,870% and 67,085%.

“I’ve never been to the Czech Republic before I didn’t know what to expect and I’m so impressed and the conditions here are really excellent," said Ryan. "We’ve been to lots of competitions all around Europe and this is one of the best organized. Fantastic footing and everything top quality. It’s a pleasure to be here. The reason why we chose Olomouc is that we’re doing three shows back to back now and we want to do it so there is not much driving for my horses. We’re going to Austria next and then we’re going to Slovenia."

With Fantastic Snoop Dog he had a below par Intermediaire A (59.118%) but improved in the next test with 64.088% in the Inter II. Ryan trains with Dieter Laugks and has daily help from his husband, American Thomas Walker.

"Fantastc Snoop Dog is my bonus horse as I call him," said Ryan. "Last year I decided to keep him at Small Tour because he struggles with everything. So he struggled yesterday in the test but today he was much better focused. My expectations with him are not as high but we changed our routine today and it really worked out. We had some mistakes but he was really motivated and happy and willing to do his job."

Torkkeli on Fantastic Snoop Dog
After having represented Canada at the 2022 World Championships in Herning, Ryan hopes to make it to his first Olympics in Paris. 

"After the three shows we’re having a break because we’ve never done three shows like that," he said. "For me the last day of qualifying scores for Paris is 9 June and that’s the last day of the show in Lipica. It is really a tight schedule but we’ve decided to give it a try and the horses will tell us if we can do it. We’re not gonna push for anything that they can’t do. Yesterday I just wanted to have a nice and harmonious ride with Sternenwanderer and that’s what he gave me. I was really happy with that feeling. There are fantastic combinations that are getting great scores and we just have to see. I have to ride two more shows.”

Vasaryova Collecting Trophies

Home-side herà, Czech young rider Johana Vášáryová, brought  two horses to Olomouc. The 16-year old Johana competes in both the junior and young riders division. With the 10-year old Westfalian mare Bona Dea (by Brisbane x Weltissimo) she won all three tests in the junior division scoring 68,636%, 70,588%, 75,167%. With Victoria Max-Theurer's 14-year old Oldenburg Silky Moves (by Sternberg x Furst Heinrich) she came second in the Young Riders Team test, won the Individual and finished third in the Kur to Music. 

Johana Vasaryova in the prize giving ceremony
“I think Bona is in better shape right now," said Johana. "Her canter work has been her highlight here. She gets more uphill now though we also had some good parts in trot. We have to practice more the half circles and extended walk to get it more relaxed. So far with her we have won two junior tests in CDI Gossendorf in Austria with over 71% twice, then we went to CDI Samorin where I took Silky Moves for the first time this season. We were second twice and won one test in YR category. Actually I’m working with him on some GP elements because he doesn’t like Junior tests – he gets bored in them."

Johana has been competing Silky Moves since 2021, but Bon Dea has been her European Junior Championship ride in 2023

"I’m grateful that Silky is back in competition. Our main goal is to keep him healthy," said Vasaryova. "Last year after the CDI Aachen Young Stars in December he got injured and had a break. He had a broken tooth  and had a two-month break.  Our plan for this season is to compete at Future Champions in Hagen with both Bona Dea and Silky. We have the Junior team selection."

Johana sees herself on return the team alongside Barbora Krejcirova (Serano) and Eliska Vandasova (Roncevall OLD).

Triple for Hubackova in the Children Division

Alice Hubackova on Versailles
The Czech Children also dominated their age category at CDI Olomouc with Alice Hubackova as a front-runner followed up by Jasmina Vasarova and Liliana Hlavonova. 

The 13-year old Hubackova has been competed in both the junior division as well in Children but for Olomouc she brought her Children's horse Versailles, a 7-year old Oldenburg mare by Vitalis x Furstenball, bred by Paul Schockemöhle. She won the preliminary test with 78.179%, the team test with 78.650%, and the individual test with 76.769%.

Vasaryova's younger sister Jasmina debuted at children level with the 9-year old Oldenburg Friday I'm in Love (by Fursten-Look x Bvlgari). 

"She looks very cute on the horse and the horse does everything for her," Johana smiled. "She has a very good hand. We sometimes argue but she likes that I always help her with the horse, clean the box and feed the horse. I am like a groom to her."

Olomouc Aiming for European Youth Championships

Thomas Bauer who helped the organizers and contributed to the growing popularity of the show, commented on this edition, Olympic season the final round of Paris qualifications:

“It is the third edition of CDI Olomouc which is now a well established CDI. We have had a lot of entries and it is really a good sign," said the German show organizer. "We keep going and at the moment we have an application for Europeans Juniors and Children in 2026 which we hope we can host. The location is very convenient for quite a lot of countries including Poland and Austria. 

Baur sees good development in Czech dressage sport and hopes that the sport will pick up popularity and grow.

"Czech young riders have a very good base at the moment, Children too, Juniors not so much but that depends on the year. What’s really missing is Czech seniors," he said. 

Baur says that in an OIympic year it's always difficult to estimate how many entries a competition will attract.

The ground jury for the big tour: Thomas Kessler, William Warren,
Malgorzata Pawlowska, Gabriela Valerianova,
Elisabeth Max-Theurer, Hans Voser
"The Olympic year is always a very difficult year because you never know what you will get at certain dates we saw at the beginning of the outdoor season a very high number of entries at the shows," he said. "Then it went down and now we are on the way up again for the next two three weeks and then it will go down again because of Aachen and the last qualifiers for “big countries”. Throughout the summer everybody is focused on Paris so there will be not so many CDI’s. The Olympic year is always special and you cant’s really tell which shows will be benefiting from the wave and which ones will not. Next year is completely different because the riders are free to do what they want to do and European Championships in Samorin are pretty late. Now the riders are preparing for Paris and already starting their World Cup 2025 qualifications."

The Olympics are highly important for the development of a sport as they give unparallelled exposure and drive to federations, athletes, sponsors and all involved. 

"Olympic qualifications for countries which are not at top level always boost the sport in the country," said Baur. "We have seen it many times. The question is: can you make something out of it? Is if just for a short period of time and that it will be forgotten. Paris has already made a history for Lithuanian or Indian dressage. Who knows if we see Chinese riders in LA 2028 as that part of the world is really growing. The selection of the next Olympic host after LA 2024 and Brisbane 2032 is very crucial because we have our problems and if we can’t fix them it might not look too good. We have to show the world that we are taking responsibility of the horses. Of course most of the riders do. It’s easy to criticize from at home in front of your laptop but that’s how it is. We have to face it and there is no way out these days.” 

-- by Agata Grosicka, edited by Eurodressage - Photos © Lukasz Kowalski

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