Diederik van Silfhout Rises to the Top to Win Kur Gold in Azeitao

Sun, 07/20/2008 - 00:00
2008 European Junior and Young Riders Championships

Dutch gold medal favourite Lotje Schoots was unable to produce a hattrick at the 2008 European Young Riders Championships in Azeitao, Portugal, July 20, 2008. Riding a tense Reine B, Schoots made several mistakes and dropped to a fifth place. Schoots' boyfriend, though, wielded the axe of power and grabbed the gold for his freestyle on the Dutch warmblood mare Ruby (by Gribaldi x Landwind II).

Van Silfhout reigned surpreme aboard Mr Koopman's elegant mare Ruby and scored 75,850%. In two years time, Diederik enriched himself with the titles of the 2006 European Junior Riders Champion and the 2008 European Young Riders Champion!

In his wake followed the German Kirsten Sieber on her Holsteiner Charly. Throughout the Championships, Sieber has been a very steady competitor, placing third twice, winning the individual test bronze and now the kur silver medal.

It is always good for the local, home favourite to have the European Championships organized in their own country. In 2003 it worked wonders for Victoria Max-Theurer, who won bronze at her show, the 1999 European Championships, in home town Achleiten, Austria.

The trick has worked again for the talented Boaventura Freire. On home turf, he climbed up the rankings to earn the bronze medal in the Kur to Music with the Westfalian gelding Derby L (by Derby Favorit). Freire rode to surprisingly beautiful Portuguese guitar music and dazzled the crowds. The judges were quite unanymous in their marking of the ride and the promising duo scored 71,800, just fractions ahead of Ann Kristin Dornbracht on the Oldenburg gelding Gryffindor (by Giorgione x Dell Magna). For Freire, the 2008 European Championships became a success afterall. In the Team championship the pair was eliminated because Derby L had bit his tongue and blood came out of his mouth.

Dutch Lotje Schoots placed fifth in the Kur to Music, a very unusual place for a young rider who is used to winning it all. When Schoots has her chestnut mare Reine B together, the pair shows fantastic stuff: super expression in the three basic gaits and very meticulous execution of the movements. On a bad day, however, bad training surfaces: the mare opens the mouth constantly and grinds her teeth. In the Kur, Reine B spooked several times on the same spot and tension crept into the test. Their score of 70,250 % was still testimony of their talent and potential. The judges were confused what to do with this performance. German Dieter Schuele still considered them the third best pair with his 73,250%, Maribel Alonso appreciated it much lower, ranking her eleventh with 67,000%.

There was some more unfortunate, bad luck for the third Dutch rider Cindy van den Berg. Her horse Mix misplaced his foot in the freestyle and became visibly unlevel. The judges down scored the ride to a 68,950% which placed her ninth. "This can happen to any horse any time," Van den Berg commented. "But it's rotten that it had to happen now. It has been great to take part in the European Championships, though"

Danish Anna Kasprzak and the Westfalian licensed stallion Blue Hors Future Cup (by Florestan x Disco Star) slotted in sixth with 69,500%. Two placed below her was team mate Thit Vestergaard Jensen on the Trakehner bred Danish licensed stallion Blue Hors Hertug (by Schwadroneur) with 69,150%. The Danish combo was separated in their ranking by the Norwegian Lilian Jebsen aboard the fantastic Weltano (by Weltmeyer), who placed seventh with 69,500%

[Editor's note: On Monday noon at 13h on its return to The Netherlands, the lorry of Diederik and Jarissa van Silfhout was rammed by another lorry who lost control over its brakes in a mountainous area near Bilbao, Spain. All passagers as well as horses Ruby and Trappel are uninjured.]

Photos © Paul van Oers

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