Astrix Marches to Second Gold and World Champion's Title by Winning 6-Year Old Finals

Mon, 08/08/2011 - 11:24
2011 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses

Emmelie Scholtens and the licensed Dutch warmblood stallion Astrix marched to their second world championship gold medal by winning the 6-year old finals at the 2011 World Young Horse Championships in Verden, Germany, on Sunday noon 7 August 2011. The wonderful Dutch combination renewed their title with much bravura but had Uta Gräf and Damon Jerome H on their heels. Dorothee Schneider and St. Emilion completed the top three.

As the six-year old finals test has a high degree of technical difficulty with two walk pirouettes and four flying changes as well as many tempo differences, the scores are traditionally not as spectacular for this age category as with the 5-year olds. Scholtens and Astrix became the World Champions with an 8.7 for score, still definitely not too shabby, but her ride was not mistake free.

The gorgeous black stallion by Obelisk x Olivi has a wonderful trot, maybe the best seen that day. It is full energy, suspension and engagement and always bouncing off the ground. On the left lead the trot could have been slightly more collected and in the right half pass, the horse slightly tilted the head. The extended walk was beautiful with nice relaxation and much overtrack. The canter was uphill but showed very little collection and two of the four flying changes were problematic.  The final extended trot was very conservative with little stretch in the frontleg. Astrix' finals test was a big improvement from his ride on Friday as it all went much smoother but the total image could have been prettier if the rider held her hands lower on the withers and was a little bit softer in the contact. Movementwise Astrix was the best in the Finals' field, but he had several horses that were his superiors in the submission and technical execution of the test.

The judges' panel, which included Angelika Fromming (GER), Susanne Baarup (DEN), Jacques van Daele (BEL) and Maria Colliander (FIN), praised Astrix for his "very elegant, lightfooted and expressive trot" (9.6). The walk was "regular, ground covering and relaxed" (9.2). The canter had a "clear spring, good ground cover but the collection could improve" (8.8). They believe that Astrix' "bending had to improve" (submission 7.4) and because of the problems with the two changes, the general impression got an 8.5. Scholtens' total of 8.7 sufficed for the title.

The 26-year old Emmelie Scholtens was very happy with the victory, which she had secretly hoped for. "You hope that you are going to win here the next year if you have won last year," Scholtens confessed at the press conference. "Meawhile Astrix has been approved with KWPN and we did a lot of stallion competitions. It's wasn't only going for the World Championships this year but the last months we really worked for it. It worked out, we won again."

Astrix, who is owned by Perlee Stables, will now get a little vacation and, though he has been licensed as a breeding stallion, the competition sport will be his main priority. His breeders, the Ten Bosch couple, were beaming with pride and had also crossed their fingers for a second title. "Yes we expected it a little bit, because he's so beautiful and going like a real one," said Mrs Ten Bosch. We are very proud of Emmelie, Peter and Mareike (Perlee). They made him to how he is. We are just breeders, but we need them to bring him to this level."

Uta Gräf and Damon Jerome H Step It Up to Win Silver

Uta Gräf and Professor Thomas Hitschold's Rhinelander stallion Damon Jerome H were already solid scorers in the first round but in order to finish at the top they really had to kick into a higher gear as the high quality of the liver chestnut was not being displayed in their very slow and safe preliminary test. For the Finals they had seek that fine line between expression and ridebility. Fortunately Gräf achieved that and ended up with silver.

At the show Gräf got a bit of help from Hans-Heinrich Meyer zu Strohen who recommended her to step on the gear. The Kircheimbolanden based rider is known for her very elegant, refined and correct style and is not a major fan of the word "spectacular" but in order to win medals a little bit of spectacular needs to be mixed with the classical. Damon Jerome H was more forward in trot. He was very uphill and constant in the contact with the bit. The trot work flowed with great ease. The walk was brilliant: fantastic rhythm, great overtrack, super relaxation but the horse could have been a tad more active. The canter work was rock solid with much self-carriage bit in all its collection, Damon Jerome lost some roundness in the gait and became quite stiff in the legs. The flying changes were all well executed but could have been more rolling in the flow. The final extended canter was great. The horse was not immobile in the end halt.

The judges liked Damon Jerome H for being "always uphill and well balanced." They said that his walk pirouettes were the best of the day and would have earned him a 10 if this were a classical dressage test. They scored him 8.5 for trot and canter, 9.0 for walk, and 8.7 for submission and general impression which tallied to a total of 8.68 and the silver medal.

"After the first competition I was told, 'you must ride a little bit more. it's not enough,' so today I tried it and it was better," said Gräf who couldn't wipe the smile off her face. "His walk, trot and canter are very good and he's very easy to ride," she added. Gräf was also very certain about her future with Damon Jerome, as the youngsters competing in Verden often get sold right after the competition. "He's not for sale so I'm sure I can continue riding him," she stated.

Dorothee Schneider and St. Emilion Do It Right

Dorothee Schneider is such an amazing professional rider, who presents horse after horse in the most wonderful frame with amazing rideability and constancy in their gaits and contact. Aboard Christina Ullrich's Westfalian gelding St. Emilion (by Sandro Hit x Ehrenwort) Schneider scored 8.42 to finish in bronze medal position.

St. Emilion, a former PSI auction horse which sold for 550,000 euro in 2009, is not the most spectacular mover, but he was ridden beautifully. His trot is very functional with good regularity in the different tempi as well as on the curved lines. The half passes were steady with good crossing of the legs and you could see the horse listening attentively to the rider's aids. In walk the rhythm was pure on the diagonal, but there should have been more freedom on the shoulder. The rhythm in between the two turns on the haunches could have been better. In canter the horse lost some suppleness in the back, especially in the medium canter and he could have been more uphill in the counter canter right but the flying changes were totally confirmed. The fourth might have been a bit straighter in the body but they were all big and uphill. The begin and end up halt were impeccable. While Astrix had more expression, St. Emilion exceled in his submissiveness.

The judges were on the mark when they said, "we liked the submissiveness very much." They liked to have ween more overtrack in the lengthenings in trot and walk. The horse scored 8.7 for trot, 7.7 for walk, 8.2 for canter, 9.0 for submission and 8.5 for general impression.

"I'm very proud of my horse. I have him for 10 months," said Schneider. "We have worked a lot those ten months, also on the submissiveness, so I'm proud to have a third place. A big thanks to the owner for offering me the ride."

Lezard and Avanti Complete Top Five

Isabell Werth's assistent trainer Matthias Bouten rode Madeleine Winter-Schulze's 6-year old Rhinelander gelding Lezard (by Lord Loxley x Riccione) to a fourth place. The chestnut has much expression and handled the traversal movements quite fluently but there were slight disruptions in the regularity of the rhythm. The walk was well regulated but there could have been more overtrack on the diagonal. The canter was ground covering and uphill, but should have been more collected. The horse was quite open in the frame which made the second flying change happen in two phases. The extended canter was well ridden on the marker (one of the few as most riders already started collecting right after E). The energy level in their test was certainly up and Bouten finished off his ride with a super extended trot. Lezard scored 9.0 for trot, 7.8 for walk, 8.5 for canter, 8.2 for submussion and 8.5 for general impression, which resulted in a 8.40 score.

Dutch Laurens van Lieren and the bay KWPN gelding Avanti (by United x Farrington) completed the top five with an 8.38 end result. The former young rider rode a very controlled and careful round with the horse owned by Carolyn de Roo. The bay gelding does not have the most spectacular gaits, but he handled the 6-year old work very well. There was a mistake in the rhythm in the medium trot and the onset of the half pass left was hesitant. In trot the horse could have bounced more off the ground with longer lasting suspension. The walk was very nice and active. In canter the bay gelding should have been more collected in the frame. The extensions was excellent and the flying changes were ground covering, but the third one was crooked. In general Van Lieren presented an obedient Avanti who was very willing to work for his rider. The general comment of the judges was that Avanti should move the hocks more under the body, both in trot and canter, but they praised him, for instance, for the good crossing of the legs in the lateral movements. The horse got 8.3 for trot, 8.5 for walk, 8.2 for canter, 8.5 for submissiveness and 8.4 for general impression.

Officials Ecstatic about 2011 Edition of Verden

The judges and show officials were very ecstatic about the 2011 World Young Horse Championships. Amazing horses in the 5-year old division, very good horses in the 6-year old category, even though quite a few mistakes were made, and more than 50,000 spectators on the show grounds for the event made the 2011 edition a special one.

"It was very exciting to be in the judges panel today," said Danish judge Susanne Baarup, who was president of the ground jury for the 6-year old Finals. "A lot happened with many of the very good horses. I don't know if it was the wind or other circumstances. They made a lot of mistakes. We used the training scale for the submissiveness. We really had to work and be observant. "

Jan Pedersen, president of the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses, confirmed that the goals which were set out at the first world championships in 1997 (which was then a test event), have already been reached years ago. "The development has been faster than expected. We are attracting the best riders and horses of the world. The crowds have grown, so we developed in a good way."

Klaus Miesner, chairman of the WBFSH Executive Committee and breeding director at the German Equestrian Federation, added that "we are thankful that we had entries from 18 nations and 20 different breed societies. We made positive progress. The judges did a good job all the days. For the breeders and riders this is a big step forward because of the good comments the judges gave. That is actually the biggest step. There is a red line the last years, everybody was able to follow what the judges expect of future sport horses in dressage."

For 2012 the World Young Horse Championships will conflict with the Olympic Games in London and it would be critical for the organization to consider switching dates as many riders, trainers and press will not be available to come to Verden for the show. Show organizer Rainer Kiel revealed that they are discussing holding the show mid August after the Games. "This is disturbing but internally we are discussing switching our foal auction with the World Championships," said show organizer Rainer Kiel. "I can't decide this myself. When you fix one problem, you usually get a few more, but we have not cemented the date."

Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED

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