Eva Möller and the Russian owned Oldenburg gelding Sa Coeur did the double and reclaimed their World Champion's title by winning the lacklustre 6-year old Finals at the 2013 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany, on Sunday 11 August 2013. The duo scored a total of 9.04 for their second consecutive World Champion's title. Damon's Delorange got the silver and Discovery OLD became the surprise bronze medalist.
One has to be realistic though; it's not every year that a Poetin, Damon Hill, Florencio or Woodlander Farouche is born thrilling the crowds to their core. However, after the 6-year old finals many spectators were still hungry for more and better. It was a pity that Holland's best 6-year old, Charmeur, was withdrawn after a failed preliminary test and that last year's 5-year old bronze medalist Capri Sonne didn't even pass the vet check on Thursday. With only 2012 Bundeschampion Damon's Delorange threatening Sa Coeur's rise to the top, the Finals were not so exciting and several youngsters struggled with the difficult flying changes.
Eva Möller and Elena Knyaginicheva's Sa Coeur (by Sir Donnerhall I x Don Davidoff) were the second to last pair to go in the Finals and had to produce a fault free ride to stand out from Damon's Delorange. Unfortunately, two flying changes failed, but the judges were surprisingly willing to neglect those major errors. Sa Coeur trotted very rhythmically with much bounce but could bring the hind legs more under the body with better back usage. He was strong in his cadence in the shoulders-in though, but the half passes could have had more bending. The entire trot tour the gorgeous bay gelding had his nose behind the vertical. The extended walk was outstanding and he kept a clear rhythm in the collected walk in between the turns on the haunches. He could have been a bit quicker behind in the walk pirouettes. The canter was active and engaged from behind, but the horse needed to be slightly more collected in the frame so he could generate more lift in the withers. Two flying changes were very solid, two were late on the aids. Overall it was a very pleasant, appealing test.
The judging panel, consisting of Isabelle Judet, Annette Fransen-Iacobaeus, Krust Christensen, and Dietrich Plewa, praised the horse for being "loose" and having "much expression." In trot they liked his "good balance, evenness also in the collected work with an active hind leg and cadenced extended trots." In canter they wanted to see "more ground cover in the medium canter." On the level of submission the judges made the puzzling remarks that he had "good bending in the half passes " and was "very, very secure on the aids", but they were right that the horse was very "even in the contact." Sa Coeur scored 9.2 for trot and walk, 8.9 for canter, 8.7 for submission and 9.2 for general impression.
At the end of the test Möller looked a bit stern. "I was a little bit angry at myself as I made stupid mistakes in the changes," she explained. "I did something completely different than in the warm up and the horse didn't know what I was asking. He normally does them really securely." The sympathetic rider, who is one of the assistent trainers at Hof Kasselmann, beamed however during the prize giving ceremony. When asked if she experienced any pressure defending her title, she replied "I would lie if I were to say there was no pressure. Last year Sa Coeur was owned by Mr Kasselmann. If it's not working he's not killing me, but now the owners are here," she joked. "Last year I only rode him for 6 weeks before the World Championships. This year it's much easier because I've been riding him ever since."
The silver medallist in the class, Christian Becks' Westfalian mare Damon's Delorange (by Damon Hill x Rubin Royal), is probably the higher quality horse but there were a few issues in her test as well. Under Helen Langehanenberg, the long legged, very refined looking mare has incredible cadence in trot and is actively working from behind, but pulls the right hock consistently higher than the left one, which showed especially in the shoulders-in. The medium trot had good ground cover and while the mare stays very round in her front leg in the lengthenings she does open the frame. Her trot tour was very smooth but could have been a bit more collected. In the extended trot, the mare produces huge overstep but could be a bit more energetic from behind. The collected walk was not always entire pure in rhythm. The canter was uphill, obedient and expressive. The mare was very elegant in the canter exercises, produced four good flying changes, though the ones to the right could have been straighter.
The pair scored 8.2 for trot, which can be considered low if one doesn't object to the twitched hind leg. She got 9.4 for walk, 9.2 for canter, 9.0 for submission and 8.8 for general impression to finish second with 8.92. Commentating judge Dietrich Plewa said it was a "very successful presentation" and praised the trot for its "cadence and ground cover" despite "minimal unevennes in the beginning and at the beginning of the shoulder in right." The judges especially liked the "looseness and contact" of the pair.
When asked if Damon's Delorange and her younger brother Damon's Satelite are similar to their dad, Helen nodded in agreement. "They are completely like him. I like his offspring. They have his walk, trot , canter, they are willing to work in the arena, do their best. It's fun to train and compete with them. For sure there are some differences, but I've seen many similarities." Helen will now give the silver medal winning mare a short break and then discuss her future with the owner.
The bronze medal surprisingly went to Heiner Schiergen on Heinz Bellen's Oldenburg gelding Discovery (by Dimaggio x Classiker). The duo only qualified for the finals by finishing in the top three in the consolation round. Discovery did produce his best test in the Finals, but the horse still has so many contact issues that it was remarkable the judges were so lavish with their notes.
Discovery was very expressive in trot. He has tons of knee action and has an active hind leg, but in all his greatness he is just not yet very balanced and does not show the required self-carriage for a 6-year old. He leaned on the forehand in the extensions and could push more from behind. Despite fidgety lips, the contact with the mouth was softer and more consistent than in the preliminary rounds but the horse visibly struggled to move independently without the rider's help. The extended walk was ground covering, in the collected he executed a big right half pirouette and a fantastic left one. In the canter, Discovery produces big strides and is quite impressive, executing four big flying changes, but the balance was not yet optimal.
The judges awarded the combination 8.7 for trot, 8.9 for walk, 9.0 for canter, 8.6 for submission and 8.8 for general impression to average an 8.8. Plewa positively commented on the horse's high degree of elasticity and "good bending in the voltes." In canter they liked the "uphill tendency and his ability to collect." They did remark that the horse was "unhappy in the mouth" but that the contact was "light".
Victoria Michalke and her cute chestnut British Hanoverian gelding Duke of Britain (by Dimaggio x Rubinstein) landed a fourth place with 8.6. Bred by Sarah and Tony Pidgley in the U.K., Duke of Britain is quite normal in trot, but definitely makes up for that in walk and canter. He was very obedient and focused on his rider, but in the trot he does not have much air time and gets wide behind in the extensions. The horse was brilliant in the extended walk and very good in the collected. The canter has very nice uphill strides and he climbs in front, but he could have been more closed in the frame and carrying from behind. The canter extensions were lovely. The pair got 7.5 for trot, 9.2 for walk, 8.8 for canter, 9.0 for submission and 8.5 for general impression.
Another well ridden horse moved into the top five: Carola Koppelmann's Mecklenburger branded gelding Sandiego (by Sancisco x Davignon). The dark bay gelding produced very smooth trot work with a clear lengthening of the steps in the extensions, but he often dropped deep and didn't consistenly keep the poll as highest point. The horse nicely crossed its legs in the half passes. The extended walk was superb with a clear V showing in the rhythm, but the walk pirouettes were slightly big. The canter should have been more uphill, although the horse produced four very secure flying changes. Technically Koppelmann rode a high level test. They got 8.7 for trot, 8.5 for walk,8.4 for canter and 8.5 for submission and general impression to finish on a 8.52.
Helen Langehanenberg and her second ride in the finals, Gabriele Mertens-Gahlen's Oldenburg gelding Diamigo (by Dimaggio x Freudenprinz), landed a sixth place. The dark bay gelding is very similarly muscled to Damon's Delorange, quite skimpy in the neck but refined, long legged and athletic looking in his body. He is extremely lightfooted in trot and moves very delicately. The walk had nice relaxation and ground cover and in canter the gelding was good, showing solid changes, but it all looked a bit safe and the horse could have had that extra bit of power in the gait. He got 8.5 for trot, 8.8 for walk, 8.0 for canter, 8.5 for submission and general impression to total 8.46.
The winner of the preliminary round, Laura Stigler and Lena Charlotte Walterscheidt's Hanoverian gelding Doubleyou W (by Don Romantic x Rohdiamant), were unable to stay on top of their game in the Finals. The bright bay gelding was not always regular in trot with uneven steps in the medium despite the major ground cover, as well as in the volte left. The half passes had very nice crossing. The extended walk was excellent with super clarity of rhythm but in the collected walk, there was a loss of impression and the left half pirouette was mediocre. In canter Doubleyou W makes big strides but was a bit too open in the frame and could have shown a higher level of collection. The first two changes were huge, the third short behind and in the fourth the rider threw her weight round in the saddle to make the change happen. Also in the final extended trot, the horse became hurried and the rider did extend on the full length of the diagonal. They got 8.7 for trot, 7.0 for walk, 9.2 for canter, 8.7 for submission and 8.5 for general impression. They ranked seventh with 8.42.
Swedish Sandra Sterntorp and her Westfalian stallion Rausing (by Rock Forever x Dimension) slotted in eighth with 8.38. The chunky bay stallion was very active and expressive in trot, but needs to put the hind legs more under the body. Rausing had the best walk of the day, for sure, but in the canter he was rushed and barely carried hmself. He totalled 8.38.
The highest placing Dutch rider in the 6-year old final was Mirelle van Kemenade on the cute bay KWPN licensed stallion Cachet L (by Jazz x Ferro). The horse has an active and elastic trot, but the rider could sit more independently in the saddle and be even more light in the contact. In walk the horse has an active hind leg but is quite limited in the freedom in the shoulder. Cachet's canter is top class. Uphill, engaged, scopey and with a brilliant hind leg. It earned them a 9.5 for canter. Two flying changes were slightly problematic and their overall score was 8.16.
Dutch Grand Prix rider Patrick van der Meer and his lovely dark bay Dutch mare Coco Chanel (by Sandreo x San Remo) posted a total score of 7.96 to finish 10th. The very appealing and elegant mare is very lightfooted in trot but she hollowed the back a bit in the extensions and needed to cross more behind in the half passes. The walk was active with two hooves overstep but a bit limited in shoulder freedom. In the canter she lost some swing in the back which compromised the clairity of the 3-beat rhythm, especially in the extensions. The mare became quite tense and struggled with the changes and downward transition from canter to trot. Still, Coco Chanel is a very interesting horse for the future.
At the press conference at the end of the day French I-judge Isabelle Judet commented on the level of riding in the 6-year old division. "From the first day it was a good group with many possibilities," she said. "The horses seemed of a good quality. This was confirmed on the first day after the first competition. Lots of horses could be on the top. It was very challenging for the judges today. I think we did a good job."
Text and photos by Astrid Appels - No Reproduction Allowed
Eurodressage photographer Astrid Appels took photos of all combinations competing at the 2013 World Young Horse Championships. Contact us if you are interested in prints of your photos!
Scores 2013 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2013 World Young Horse Championships