The Dutch team proved to be the most consistent in the team championship test and claimed the team gold medal over perpetual rival Germany at the 2018 European Junior Riders Championships in Fontainebleau, France, on Wednesday 11 July 2018.
Daphne van Peperstraten spearheaded the Dutch campaign to victory with a first place in the team championship test and a whopping 75.909%. She was assisted by Thalia Rockx (3rd) and Kimberly Pap (4th) to secure the gold with a team total of 219.757 points, well ahead of an atypically, slighly underwhelming German team that got silver with 216.816 points. Denmark was back on the bronze step of the podium, as usual, but followed in the distance with a team total of 211.877 points. Spain scored a historic fourth team spot on 209.515 points.
Van Peperstraten was the last Dutch rider to go on Wednesday afternoon. This year Van Peperstraten kept a low profile on the international scene with no CDI starts outside Holland and just one CDI this entire 2018 show season. In her first match against Europe's elite she was back at the top of the board. Today in the team test though the pair did not yet display the sharpness and edge they had last year. Daphne's 11-year old Dutch warmblood Cupido (by Johnson x Duko) is a dream junior rider's horse: three excellent basic gaits, a wonderful silhouette in canter and extremely confirmed in all the movements as well as the flying changes. Van Peperstraten rode a very focused test that was hard to fault, but there were a few beauty mistakes - if one were to nitpick - in the seat and bridle connection. Although Daphne sits beautifully straight in the saddle, her toes are constantly sticking out and her (soft) piano hands cause that the head position was not entirely dead still in the trot work with Cupido consistently and softly rocking the head back and forward in the contact. He could chew and foam more. The extended walk was a highlight though, but the collected walk lacked true collection and shortening of the gait. On the left volte and shoulder in the self carriage was slightly less, but all flying changes were well executed and the entire test was cadenced, rhythmical and smooth. They scored 75.909% for the highest individual place in the class.
The team championship test was judged by Raphael Saleh (FRA), Leif Tornblad (DEN), Henning Lehrmann (GER), Clive Halsall (GBR), and Thomas Lang (AUT) and four out of five placed Van Peperstraten first. Their marks ranged from 74.242 to 77.879%.
Germany's road to silver was suprisingly led by the overnight leader, team new comer Romy Allard on the 9-year old Oldenburg mare Summer Rose (by Sir Diamond x Rubinstein). The pair topped the leader board on Tuesday with a score of 73.667% after group one had gone. She only dropped one place in the ranking after group two. Allard was selected on the German team as a fourth rider, but she stood the test and showed resilience in her riding to become Germany's best junior. Germany's number three in the selection process, Valentina Pisnter and the 10-year old Oldenburg gelding QC Flamboyant (by Fidertanz x De Niro) was the second best rider for Germany with a fifth place and a 71.788% score. She also went on Tuesday.
It was slightly remarkable that Germany's two strongest juniors, that were chosen to ride on Wednesday, were not the backbone of the team. Marlene Sieverding had a few issues in the warl on her 10-year old Oldenburg gelding Furst Levantino (by Furst Romancier x Sandro Hit), which landed her on 10th place with 70.818%, while team leader and last to go, Linda Erbe on the 8-year old German Sport Horse bred Fierro (by Furst Wettin x Eskadron) had some small niggles and placed eight with 71.364%. The young, dark bay Fierro did not produce immobile halts and although the trot work was cadenced, he dropped a bit on the forehand and could have been more elastic in the contact. A spook in the left volte meddled with the flow of the test. The extended walk was slightly hurried and the collected became lateral before the left turn on the haunches. Fierro showed good flying changes, though and overall the canter work was smooth.
Denmark was back to bronze with former pony rider Sara Aagard Hyrm making a strong start as best Danish junior in her first year in the new age class. Aboard Rikke Klinkby's 12-year old Danish warmblood bred Skovborgs Romadinov (by Romanov x Mago xx), Hyrm rode a nice trot tour in which the liver chestnut stallion could stay a bit more uphill and in better self carriage, but the flow between the straight lines and lateral movements was good. There were a few small blips with the horse halting wide behind in the beginning and the transition from walk to trot was via a jog. They scored 71.485% to finish 7th as best Danish pair.
The bronze medal was further gained by the efforts of Maria Mejlgaard Jensen on the 17-year old KWPN bred Uno IV (by Olivi x Nooitgedacht) with 70.273% and team newbie Laura Jarlkvist Rasmussen on the 14-year old Danish bred Aatoftens Dornier (by De Noir) with 70.121 (12th).
The highest ranking non-team medal winning rider was Russian Anna Guseynova on the 13-year old Westfalian bred Lauda (by Laudabilis x Florestan). Trained by Adelinde Cornelissen and assisted at the show by Dutch Philip van Ommen, Guseynova rode a strong trot work with much bounce and rhythm. The collected walk was a bit tense, but the trot extensions were well ridden. One flying change was not so perfect, but overall the canter work looked well established. Overall Lauda needs to have the nose a bit more out though, which showed in the extended walk in which he dropped the head instead of stretching the neck and nose out.
Spain landed a historic fourth place with their team and their effort was led by the Wellington, Florida, based Natalia Bacariza Danguillecourt, who has taken over the ride on the 11-year old Hanoverian gelding Dhannie (by Don Crusador x Weltmeyer) from Juan Matute Guimon who won kur gold at the 2015 European Junior Riders Championships with the black. The petite and young Natalia does a good job on Dhannie, who now looks taller and more long-legged than ever before. The gelding knows the junior level work by heart and Danguillecourt just needs to get an even more solid rhythm going in the strides as well as have the mouth more closed to score even higher. They were 13th with 70.000%.
The 2018 European Junior Riders Championships are hosted at the Stade du Grand Parquet in Fontainebleau, a gorgeous venue that already hosted the European Pony Championships in 2012. This year the event returned bigger than ever with European Championships for Children, Juniors and Young Riders (three age categories) in dressage, show jumping and eventing (three disciplines). The whole show grounds are packed with people, there is a beautiful trade fair, where everybody witnessed how France won its place in the 2018 Soccer World Cup Finals on Tuesday, beating brave Belgium with a well earned and undeniable goal and an unfortunately display theatre from its players that faked injury and foul play. Today the action in the dressage stadium concluded at 20h00 with the medal ceremony after which the die hard soccer fans moved to the trade fair to watch England vs Croatia on the big screen.
Action at the 2018 European Junior Riders Championships continues on Friday morning with the first group of riders in the individual test.
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED
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Scores: 2018 European Children, Junior, Young Riders Championships
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2018 European Junior/Young Riders Championships