The British owned Lordswood Dancing Diamond became the sovereign winner of the 6-year old Finals at the 2017 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Ermelo, The Netherlands, on Sunday afternoon 6 August 2017. The 6-year old final was a nailbiter with magic from Dancing Diamond producing probably the best round ever seen at a World Championship and drama concerning the allocation of the bronze medal which first went to Sir Skyfall OLD and was later given to Quel Filou past-prize giving ceremony!
With a stellar performance under German Ann-Kathrin Pohlmeier, Lordswood Dancing Diamond was a league of his own in the 6-year old finals, outclassing the high quality field of competitors with a textbook ride that fulfiled the requirement of classical dressage riding. Adelinde Cornelissen and the KWPN stallion Governor earned silver and Severo Jurado Lopez and the Oldenburg gelding Quel Filou grabbed bronze after Frederic Wandres and the Oldenburg bred Sir Skyfall OLD were first decorated and featured in the prize giving ceremony after which a calculation error was discovered in the final ranking.
Lordswood Dancing Dancing, Superior Test for Well Earned Gold
The Hanoverian gelding Lordswood Dancing Diamond (by Dancier x Wolkenstein II) is bred by Heinrich Ebeling and has been owned by the British ladies duo Heather Stack and Alice Whitefield for the past three years. Last year he was third the preliminary round but finished 14th in the finals after some issues in the test. Four weeks later the pair redeemed itself by becoming the 2017 Bundeschampion. Lordswood Dancing Diamond came to Ermelo this year as a hot favourite for the gold and fullfiled, no exceeded all expectations!
Pohlmeier and Dancing Diamond finished second in the preliminary test but with the highest scores for gaits. Little stood in their way to win the gold in the finals if they produced a faultfree ride. And so did, but in what a brilliant way! The halt at entry was square and immobile, the trot was active, uphill in every stride. The horse was soft, light and supple in the contact and stayed up in the bridle throughout. The walk was outstanding, with especially the left turn on the haunches being superb. The collected walk remained pure in the rhythm. In canter, the horse was uphill with a hindleg reaching under. All flying changes worked. The absolute highlight of the test were the extensions. Both in trot and canter, the horse beautifully lengthened the stride and frame without getting quicker in the tempo. This test must have given goosebumps to everyone and it was for sure the best test ever ridden at the World Young Horse Championships since its inception in 1999!
The finals were judged Andrew Gardner, Susanne Baarup, Juan Campos and Dietrich Plewa and they rightfully shared in everyone's enthusiasm. Providing the public commentary, Gardner hit the nail on the head when he said, "thank you for showing how it should be done." They praised the horse for its very natural basic gaits, its talent, quality and expression, his "ability to collect and extend" and the "very good natural technique of the hindleg" in canter. The horse scored 10 for trot, 9.3 for walk, 9.5 for canter, 9.8 for submission and 10 for general impression. With 9.72 points in total they are the new World Champions.
Pohlmeier, who is based with her small business in Reessum, Germany, was moved to tears. "It's absolutely amazing," she said at the press conference. "My horse was super with me. He was asking me what he had to do instead of deciding for himself. This was a moment in my life." When asked if she was going to keep the ride on Dancing Diamond in the future, Pohlmeier was frank. "I will never have a horse like him again. Everything is quite easy for him. He will always do too much than less. The owners trust me now for three years. We've had these amazing three years and we'll see what happens in the future."
Accurate Riding Leads to Silver for Governor
The 2017 World Championships are organized at KNHS and KWPN headquarters in Ermelo, The Netherlands, but this year's edition has not been very successful for the KWPN breed, which already missed out on medals in the 5 and 7-year old division. Dutch Grand Prix team routinier saved the biscuit for Holland by steering the black licensed stallion Governor (by Totilas x Jazz) to a silver medal with a 9.06 point score.
Already in the preliminary test, Cornelissen presented the Korbeld couple's Governor in a very good way. With a much better bridle contact than before, Governor showed good quality paces, but the warm up round was quite safe. In the Finals Cornelissen gave it her all and thrived on her expertise of riding very accurate test. The halts were square but a bit stretched. The trot had good cadence and tempo control, but there could have been a bit more flexion in the ribcage in the half pass right. The trot lengthenings had very good ground cover with the nose out, but there could have been more differentiation between the medium and the extended trot. The final trot extension was wonderful. The extended and collected walk were pure in rhythm, but there was some loss of impulsion in the left turn on the haunches. Also in canter, Governor impressed with active, uphill strides, though the extension was hurried and at one point the stallion lost the hind legs a bit on the left lead. The four flying changes were very well ridden.
The judges confirmed that Cornelissen had ridden "a well polished test", "steady and confident in canter" and with a hindleg "naturally coming under the body." They rewarded Governor with 9.3 for trot, 8.8 for walk, 9 for canter, 8.9 for submission and 9.3 for general impression.
Cornelissen did not hide her fighter mentality and the reward has been a medal and the saviour of KWPN's glory at these Championships. "In the qualifier I rode super safe, but if I want to get somewhere I need to step on the gas. I went for it and got it," said a beaming Adelinde at the press conference. When asked if there is a difference between a Grand Prix medal and a young horse one, she replied, "winning is winning, no matter at what level. All are good. I'm really happy."
Governor is out of the full sister of Parzival and the question Adelinde gets asked repetitively is whether she sees any similarities with her retired Grand Prix horse. "He (Governor) is more relaxed in the prize givings, but that he gets from Totilas," she joked. "They both have an amazing drive, they never let you down."
Bronze Medal Mix-Up: Sir Skyfall OLD and Quel Filou OLD Swap Places
German Frederic Wandres and Anna Staff-von Reitzenstein's Oldenburg Sir Skyfall OLD (by Sandro Hit x K2) were the third pair to go in the finals test as Frederic qualified two horses for the finals! The bay Sir Skyfall is a very pretty and elastic horse with a lightfooted, forward trot but the hindleg could have carried a bit more, especially in the trot extensions. On the voltes he tilted the head. The extended walk was big and relaxed and the horse executed good pirouettes. The canter was uphill with a hindleg reaching well under the body and Sir Skyfall did four good flying changes. The transition from canter to trot went via walk.
The judges rewarded Sir Skyfall with 8 for trot, 9.5 for walk, 9.2 for canter, 8.7 for submission and 8.9 for general impression. His total of 8.86 points ranked them third originally and Wandres was decorated with the bronze medal in the prize giving ceremony. The sympathic professional dressage rider, employed at Hof Kasselmann, was stripped of his medal and honour twenty minutes afterwards as he walked upstairs to the press conference in the KWPN building. Spanish Severo Jurado Lopez and Quel Filou's points were miscalculated and this was only discovered after the medal ceremony. A blatant human error that should never have happened.
Jurado Lopez and Andreas Helgstrand's Oldenburg Quel Filou OLD (by Quaterback x Stedinger) were second in the preliminary test and definitely favourites for a medal, but their Finals test did not go as well as planned. The bouncy bay gelding has beautiful shoulder freedom and much lift in the forearm. Although his back is a bit sunken, he moved with incredible lightfootedness. He stayed very quiet and consistent in the contact, but got a bit tight on the right lead and tilted in the shoulder in. In the transition down to walk, Jurado Lopez chose the wrong lead at C and went off course. The extended walk was very well regulated, the collected walk slightly tense, but the walk pirouettes were small (he almost seemed to turn the wrong way again in the right pirouette). Quel Filou has a nice uphill canter and the horse has great willingness to work but there were a few issues. The first flying change did not come through on the aids and then happened with a big leap, the third one was very crooked. The other two went well. The final halt was a rolling stop.
The judges liked Quel Filou's trot for its "massive freedom in the shoulder" and his canter for "its talent to show different medium canters and close and come back to the collection." They gave the horse 9.7 for trot, 8.5 for walk, 9.5 for canter, a generous 8.0 for submission despite all the issues, and 9.4 for general impression. Originally the show secretary subtracted 2,5% off the total for going off course, which resulted in an 8.79 overall mark (6th place). Afterwards the score was recalculated to 8.99 points because the subtraction for going of course should have been 0.5%.
At the press conference not Wandres but Jurado Lopez took a seat at the conference table after Technical Delegate Jacques van Daele commented on the massive mistake: "There was a human mistake made in the third placing but the prize giving was already going on," said Van Daele. "This is very unfortunate, but it happened."
Severo looked a bit demure at the press conference. "I'm a little surprised in a way. I feel sorry for Frederic. It's a mistake, we are all human and those things can happen. I also made a mistake (in the test)," Severo explained. "I couldn't find myself in the test. I was not concentrated. I wasn't as good as I can be as it is my goal to be the best at every show."
Joris Kemperman, show director at Ermelo and son of FEI Dressage Committee chair Frank Kemperman, regretted the miscalculation but was overall very pleased with how the Championships went. "We had over 20,000 visitors in four days," he said, which was more than they expected. When asked why they decided to split up the preliminary tests into two groups, he replied "we don't know the amount of horses competing before hand. The definite entries are two weeks before the show and we already have to make a time schedule before that." Judges are only allowed to judge 40 horses in one class per day for concentration sake, but as young horse judges is less strenuous than Grand Prix the judges have expressed their willingness to take on more horses. Kemperman will fortunately reconsider the programme for next year.
Red Diamant and First Ampere Five and Six
Carina Cassoe Kruth and Poul Thorgensen's Danish mare Red Diamant (by Romanov x Dream of Heidelberg) landed fifth place on 8.84 points. Kruth had two horses qualified for the 6-year old finals: Heiline's Danciera and Red Diamant. The latter became her best scoring ride.
The liver chestnut mare has a natural cresty and uphill neck. Her hindleg is engaged and she trots with much rhythm, but the second extension was hurried. The extended walk was very good but the mare lost elasticity and rhythm in the collected walk. The canter work was scopey with a very nice flow and uphill flying changes, but in the right extended canter she became lateral. She scored 9 for trot, 8.8 for walk, 8.6 for canter, 9 for submission and 8.8 for general impression.
Tessa Frank and Helmut von Fircks' Hanoverian licensed stallion First Ampere (by Ampere x Weltruhm) were not on best form today. Pity as the stallion is certainly a big talent for the future and has potential for the upper level work.
The stallion has a very powerful hind leg and in trot he moves with much rhythm, but today he dropped behind the vertical and there were issues with the connection. The stallion was not so sharp on the aids. The extended walk had very good overtrack and clarity of rhythm but in the collected he dropped in the poll. First Ampere has a very nice canter stride with big extensions, but the second flying change was croup high. They scored 9.5 for trot 8.8 for walk and canter, 8 for submission and 8.9 for general impression to finish sixth with 8.8 points.
The Australian Effort
In the preliminary test Australian Simone Pearce and Bolette Wandl's Feodoro topped the board, while Australian Briana Burgess and Mary Hanna's Gerion finished fourth, sparking incredible hope and glory for the developing dressage nation. In the Finals, however, the combinations could not fulfil those medal dreams.
Simone Pearce and Feodoro (by Furstenball x Rosario) were seventh with 8.64 points. Helgstrand's stabe jockey Pearce has a more fitting ride on Feodoro than the powerful and tall Casablanca which sometimes appears a shoe size too big for her. Feodoro's incredible rideability and temperament match Pearce and it showed. The black gelding has a nice movement mechanic in his scopey trot, but the hindleg pushes more than carries and in the extensions he became too quick. The walk has gigantic ground cover, which made one wonder about his ability to collect. The collected walk was not ridden! the horse stayed too free and too large in his stride and only in the actual turns on the haunches were the steps shortened. They were slow but ok in rhythm. The canter has a nice, big stride with much ground cover, but he was hurried in the extensions and although the flying changes were all correct, they got a bit short and jumpy. Feodoro scored 8.3 for trot, 9.6 for walk, 8.7 for canter, 7.8 for submission and 8.8 for general impression.
Briana Burgess and Mary Hanna's sympathetic Dutch warmblood Gerion (by Jazz x Don Primero) landed 9th place with 8.44 points. In the preliminary test the horse was ridden over tempo but still got generously rewarded with 8.94%. In the finals the tempo was far better and the overall quality of the test was superior to the preliminary round. Unfortunately for Briana, her preliminary test score raised high expectations which the new judges were not willing to to commit to. Gerion has a very good, working hindleg in trot with good ground cover in the lengthenings. In the half passes there could have been more bending. In the extended walk there were two hooves overstep but the marching could be more active. The collected walk required a bit more collection, but the walk pirouettes were well ridden (the exit of the right one was a bit big). In canter Gerion continues to show an engaged hindleg but loses uphill tendency and self carriage. In the left extended canter the swing in the back got lost. The flying changes were really nice though, though they need to gain more ground cover. Throughout Gerion stayed very quiet and steady in the contact While Gerion was very obedient and attentive to the rider's aids, it stood out that he twice had to be lead-roped into the arena at A by his groom/handler. The judges rewarded the ride with 8.5 for trot, 8 for walk, 8.5 for canter, 8.7 for submission and 8.5 for general impression.
Ermelo, a Great New Base for International Young Horse Sport
The 2017 World Young Horse Championships were an absolute highlight this year with the overall quality being supreme. No matter if it was the 5, 6 or 7-year old division you were watching, the dressage delivered was finger licking good.
In 2016 Ermelo was allocated the World Championships and it was a bit difficult to adapt the mindframe from no longer having to travel to Verden where the World Championships had become a tradition. The atmosphere in Verden was always amazing and one easily forgets German journalists allowed to smoke filthy cigarettes in the press centre, the sausages served there daily, the unhealthy pommes-and-mayo show food, the long walk to the young horse stadium and the ugly white tents enclosing it (I never understood why they moved the Championships away from their stadium for the sake of show jumping!!!).
Ermelo has definitely become a more than better surrogate to Verden and it'll be a pleasure to return to Holland next year for the 2018 World Championships on 2 - 5 August 2018.
Text and Photos by Astrid Appels - No Reproduction Allowed
Eurodressage's Astrid Appels is on the scene taking photos at the 2017 World Young Horse Championships - If you are interested in prints or digital files for your social media, email us