Dutch Daphne van Peperstraten made it three as she captured Kur to Music gold on the final day of competition at the 2018 European Junior Riders Championships in hot and sunny Fontainebleau, France, on Sunday 15 July 2018.
While her dominance was clear in the team championship and individual test, in the kur to music Van Peperstraten felt the heat and had her rivals breathing down her neck. There was no more fist-pumping at the end of the ride as mistake meddled with an otherwise faultfree test. However, the judging panel, which included Ringmark, Stukelj, Saleh, de Wolff and Umbach, still set her 1.5% apart from the silver medal place, even though only three out of five saw Van Peperstraten first.
The Junior Riders Kur to Music finals were held at noon time on Sunday in 32°c temperatures and after five long days of competition, the heat and length of the show started to play a role and affect some of the performances.
Daphne and the 11-year old Cupido (by Johnson x Duko) rode her well known "Yes We Can" freestyle. The bright bay gelding looked a bit less fresh and the trot work showed that the horse leaned more on the forehand and had the riders lightly rocking back and forward with her hands especially on the left lead. The extended trots were ground covering, though. The canter half pass left was beautiful, but a flying change between M and R very short. A big issue happened on the short side near A with the change and counter canter. The left turn on the haunches was big. The extended walk had good relaxation despite the not greatest overtrack.The collected walk before the canter strike off was tense and short. Overall it was still a very consistent ride, but just a little less sparkling than the other though. Nevertheless Cupido showed once again what a reliable horse he is for a junior with his excellent training and good quality basic gaits. The pair scored a winning 80.925% which made them the European Junior Riders Champions for two years in a row!
German team new comer Valentina Pistner captured her second individual silver medal of the weekend. Her ride on Sunday was probably her best one of the week and her freestyle was fun and interesting, featuring The Godfather theme. Her 10-year old Oldenburg gelding QC Flamboyant (by Fidertanz x De Niro) was still strong in the bridle and often dropped in the poll and got too deep (which resulted in a rider leaning backwards in the saddl)e, but the dark bay gelding has incredible cadence and suspension in trot and is very flashy mover. The trot extensions were impressive, the extended outstanding in rhythm and overtrack and the collected was good. The flow, however, in between movements was sometimes interrupted by sudden half-halting which the horse visibly did not compute. The right extended canter was the better one and the flying changes were big. Overall, Flamboyant needs to stay more up in the bridle and lighter in the contact if he wants to go for gold! The silver medal was for Team Pistner already more than a treat and they rejoiced in the second place with 79.450%.
When it comes to music, it has to be said that the German riders, amongst a few other bold exceptions, are the only ones remotely trying to be hip, young, trendy and fun with their choice in music. While the Dutch continue to stick "original" arrangements from their local kur composers, the tunes never stick and are far from memorable. Van Peperstraten's Obama speech intro, however, marks her music a bit more. Furthermore, many riders from other nations either complicate their floorplan with too many transitions between the gaits or their music is such nondescript, background metro station music that one just focuses on the technical part of the test and ignore there is sound coming out of the speakers. For a Youth Riders' Championships it is allowed to be contemporary and fun! Good riding with poor music will not make champions. A strong example of this is Norwegian Mathilde Merethe Klaesson, who has such a wonderful horse in Sandbaeks Rio EL; one that could easily score in the upper seventy percentage range and be a medal contende (with flying changes for a 10) if she improves the bridle contact, but her music was just too demure.
German Romy Allard and her 9-year old Oldenburg mare Summer Rose (by Sir Diamond x Rubinstein) scored her second bronze medal, riding a freestyle with smooth Barry White tunes and upbeat trot music based on the beat of Crying at the Discotheque. She began her test with an uphill extended canter on the centerline, followed by a serpentine with flying changes. The trot extensions were smooth, but the black mare dropped a bit on the forehand in the half passes and should in right. The extended walk had a very nice rhythm, but the nose could have been more out. Summer Rose looked a bit less fresh, which caused the head position to be a less stable, but she was obedient and willing to do the job. They scored 78.125%.
Dutch Thalia Rockx and her home bred 7-year old KWPN gelding Golden Dancer de la Fazenda (by Bretton Woods x Florestan) finished fourth with 76.450%. The very tall liver chestnut gelding is always nicely up in the bridle and in an uphill frame, but the hind legs on this youngster are still a bit weak. Riding to filmic music featuring much piano, Rockx is aware of the current limitations of her horse to collect and be in proper self carriage, so she rides all the movements in a medium tempo. The trot extensions were huge and the extended canter uphill. The shoulder-in on the centerline was not entirely balanced and the canter walk transition was via a halt. Golden Dancer does big flying changes. With more time to develop strength behind, Golden Dancer can only improve in the future. Now they scored 76.450%.
The top five was completed by Kimberly Pap on the 16-year old KWPN mare Vloet Victory (by Jazz x Ulft). While the bay mare gave his rider a challenge by being scared of the wet footing, today in the heat she was on the job, concentrated and on good form. The shoulder-ins were ridden with the nose nicely out, but the left one was not entirely balanced. The mare is an expressive mover with nice knee action but she's not always even in the frontlegs, which showed in the half passes. The collected walk was very clear in the rhythm and the extended walk well executed. There was an issue with one of the flying changes and in the counter canter the stride length became a bit short, but Pap's freestyle ride was huge improvement on the individual test and they finished fifth with 76.275%.
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED
Eurodressage was on the scene in Fontainebleau to photograph. If you are interested in prints or files for social media, send us an email.
Scores: 2018 European Children, Junior, Young Riders Championships
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2018 European Junior/Young Riders Championships