With a highly secure and faultree free, German Paulina Holzknecht and the 12-year old Hanoverian gelding Wells Fargo led their team into the provisional lead after the first day of competition at the 2015 European Junior Riders Championships, hosted at Bernadette Brune's Domaine Equestre des Grands Pin in Vidauban, France, on Wednesday 1 July 2015.
The 2015 Europeans in Vidauban are everything they promised: beautifully located in the sunny South of France, well organized by the team at Domaine equestre and boiling hot! The first group of junior riders competed in the second show ring, the Milton arena, during the morning when temperatures were rising high but still bearable as an occasional cool breeze brought relief to some.
The petite Paulina Holzknecht set the tone early on in the morning aboard Wolfgang Schmitz-Heinen tall and strong Wells Fargo (by Welser x Fabriano). The pair showed incredibly routine and accuracy in their test, not letting go of a single point to be earned. The horse was nice and soft in the bridle, had the nose nicely at the vertical except for in the canter half passes in which he dropped a bit in the contact. The tempi changes were all ground covering and jumped with balance. The judges' panel, consisting of Thomas Lang, Jean-Michel Roudier, Marietta Sanders , Juan Carlos Campos, and Magnus Ringmark, were pretty much in agreement and four of them placed Holzknecht first. Her total score was 73.486%
Another exciting German pair, Kristin Biermann and the 11-year old Dutch bred Zwetcher (by Sir Sinclair x Jetset D), commanded the favour of the judges with her test. A newcomer to the German team Biermann was not entirely bombproof and made a few mistakes. There was a break into canter in the extended trot, the collected walk was not entirely clear in the rhythm and on more than a few occasions the horse got irregular in the trot. Zwetcher is a very impressive horse: tall, lanky, great knee action and big flowing gaits. The overall rhythm in trot was not steady with the horse often resorting to uneven steps in the voltes, shoulder in and on the short side. These irregularities as well as the big mistake in the extended trot were hardly reflected in their total generous score of 72.054%. Germany got lucky there today, not saying that Biermann does not have the potential for an individual top place. Like Holzknecht, she is a rider to watch the next few days! Germany's team score is now 145.541 points.
The team from The Netherlands landed second place provisionally with a total score of 139.973 points. Best performing Dutch rider was team new comer Laura Quint on her impressive, tall grey Dutch stallion Velazquez (by Krack C x Alasca). The grey stallion is stunning in trot but throughout the test there were small inaccuries that meddled with a higher score. Quint rushed him in the first trot extension and the shoulder in right was hurried on four tracks causing a loss of balance. The halt for rein back was not square and the halt at entry was very narrow behind. Still Velazquez covers much ground and has tons of knee action which is appealing to the eye. The walk is his weakest gait: in the collected he was short-long in the steps with tension and in the extended he did not achieve any overtrack. The canter work was quite strong with three flying changes working out well and one short behind. Quint was also lucky to get a good 70.838% from the judges. If she can literally clean up her act in the individual test there is more in store!
The second rider for Holland was Marjan Hooge on the Rhinelander stallion Fulltime (by Fidermark x Rosenkavalier). The duo also represented The Netherlands at the 2014 Europeans in Arezzo and returned on the team this year. A major mistake in the rein back - the horse refused to reverse and just stretched the forelegs - made the score plummet. Fulltime's flying changes are big but the canter work needed more collection and self carriage in general. In trot the black swings out with his right hind leg, which showed in the half pass to the left, but the flow of the trot tour was good. The pair scored 69.135% to finish sixth provisionally.
After day one, the Danish team is on the heels of the Dutch with their provisional score of 139.595 points. Leading the Danish effort at newbies Nana Gajhede on the Danish bred Zoom in Firfod (by Milan x Schwadroneur). Gajhede was qualified for Denmark with her number one horse Dark Knight but right for departure the horse suddenly became unfit and had to be replaced by Zoom In. The chunky bay bops his head quite a lot in the trot and could be more steady at the vertical. The rein back was crooked but the turns on the haunches were very well executed. Numerous riders overasked their horses in the shoulder in, riding it on four tracks or even steeper, causing their horse to loose balance. Gajhede did the same as only three tracks are required. Zoom In jumped very correct flying changes but could carry himself more on the hindquarters. The pair scored 70.000% to finish fourth. Danish Kristina Koch Bejtrup and her 17-year old Danish bred Cavaler (by Cavan x Donnerhall) were fifth with 69.595%.
The second group of juniors will compete in the team test on Thursday 2 July 2015.
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - Eurodressage - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED - NO FACEBOOK
Eurodressage's Astrid Appels took photos of all riders competing in Vidauban. If you are interested in photos, contact us by email with your name and the name of the horse
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2015 European Junior/Young Riders Championships