During the first week of competition at the 2015 Vidauban Dressage Festival, junior riders claimed the spotlight in the arena as a field of no less than 30 riders took up a large portion of each day competing at M-level. Mercedes Verweij and Semmieke Rothenberger shone brightly with their performance in the junior classes and took home the trophies.
Mercedes Verweij and the charming 11-year old Dutch warmblood mare Zarah (by Oscar x Montecristo) led the field in the team championship test with a commanding, beautiful ride. She had the mare nicely up in the bridle. Verweij is trained by Dutch-Moroccon Olympian Yessin Rahmouni, who she praises for his perfectionism and attention to detail for test riding. The duo scored 73.198% to win the class and referred country mate Esmee Donkers on Zaffier (by Painted Black x Pion) to second place with 70.000%.
"Zarah did a super nice team test, everything felt so good and easy; especially the trot was top," Verweij told Eurodressage. "Zarah continued to move with much expression and self carriage through the movements for which we got many 8s. Even one judge gave us 75.270%. Super cool!"
After acquiring the 13-year old Danish warmblood mare Geisha (by Gribaldi x Weltmeister) in the early summer of 2014, Semmieke Rothenberger is now doing double duty this 2015 show season, competing at FEI pony level and gaining mileage in the junior division. Rothenberger landed third place in the team test with 69.730%, but found her groove in the individual test, posting a score of 72.149% on the board to earn the trophy. Donkers again settled for second place with 70.219% and Verweij had to deal with major disappointment when her mare knocked herself and opened a scab above the coronet. She got eliminated during the bit check.
"In the individual test Geisha went a lot better to my feeling, but it's still not like what I can do at home," Rothenberger told Eurodressage. "I tried to get her a bit sharper on the aids because I had the feeling I had lost that sharpness a bit in the team test."
Improving throughout the week, Rothenberger got her best ride out of Geisha in the Kur to Music which she aced with a whopping 78.458%. Donkers raked in her third second place of the week with 75.375%, while Turkish Lina Uzunhasan and the Dutch mare Donna Ray (by United x Negro) were third with 72.417%.
"I think the transition to junior riders is quite hard," Semmieke admitted. "First of all because you have to ride in a double bridle and secondly I have to focus very much on the lines in the test."
Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED
Eurodressage's Astrid Appels took photos of all riders competing in the CDIO Vidauban. If you are interested in photos, contact us by email with your name and the name of the horse
Eurodressage On the Scene at the 2015 Vidauban Dressage Festival