Andreas Helgstrand and the Westfalian stallion Revolution became the supreme winners of a thrilling 5-year old Finals at the 2018 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Ermelo, The Netherlands, on Saturday 4 August 2018.
As clear favourites for the gold after the preliminary test, little stood in the way of Andreas and his huge Revolution repeating their performance and winning gold. Matthias Rath and his super solid Destacado finished with the silver, while crowd favourites Eva Möller and Candy OLD bagged the bronze. The most beautiful riding on one of the most talented horses of the championship, however, came from French pair Jessica Michel-Botton and the Selle Français Dorian Grey de Hus!
Talking 'Bout a Revolution
As the 2015 Hanoverian stallion licensing auction price highlight - selling for 1.2 million euro - the Westfalian registered Revolution (by Rocky Lee x Rouletto) has been the talk of the town for the past three years. As the busiest breeding stallion in Denmark in the past few years and the winner of the Danish Young Horse Championships, Revolution had a career going strong in his country, but now he was being presented to an international audience and judges' panel for the first time.
Bred by Yasemin Yanik and owned by Andreas in partnership with Hanni Kasprzak and Soren Grønborg, Revolution is an expansive mover with endless ground cover and elasticity. His huge gaits are his star appeal, but also his challenge at his young age as the self carriage is not yet fully there. The horse entered the arena crooked to the left and halted in a stretched position. The trot work that followed had big ground cover but for balance the horse relied heavily on his rider's aids. There was a small back step in the turn on the haunches. The walk was massive, with a clear 4-beat rhythm, each step well articulated. Today the canter was huge, but slightly more butt high compared to the preliminary test. Despite the gigantic strides, one wished to see the stallion in an even more uphill tendency and lowering the croup. He lost a bit of the impulsion in the first simple change and the strike off was hesitant. The lengthenings were spectacular. In the second simple change the horse was crooked.
The 5-year old finals were held on a very summery, Saturday afternoon in 30° c temperatures, the judges (Christensen, Niveolle, Sanders, Colliander) were cooked to perfection in their huts and the high notes came flying out. Yes the quality of the 5-year olds was unprecedented this year, but in an act to please the entertainment-crazy audience the high notes flew through the speakers. While the crowds did not even give Andreas the chance to ride a proper end halt and the cheering and clapping started even before the horse stood still, the judges also seemed to have closed their eyes to the current training imperfections. They mentioned the issues in the test, but it barely reflected in the scores. They rewarded Revolution 9.8 for trot, 9.0 for walk, 10 for canter, 9.3 for submission and 10 for "general impression," a mark which nowadays is being called "perspective." With a total of 9.62 points the gold was in the bag.
"A rock star, a power house," said judge Maria Colliander through the speakers, praising the horse for its "super ground covering, powerful" trot, and its "clear, ground covering and relaxed" walk. About the gigantic canter which regularly became croup high today they said: "what a balance, what a ground cover!" and they also rewarded Revolution for being "powerful, with clear paces, supple, and over the back."
Revolution certainly is a very special mover and he thrills his rider with a sensational feeling. "I felt a lot of pressure today. It started badly (ed.note: Zhaplin got eliminated) and I thought it wasn't my luck today, but I know Revolution," Helgstrand said about his unique horse on which he can rely. This is Andreas' third gold medal at a World Young Horse Championships (Donna Unique, Honnerups Driver), but "I also have some silver and bronze," he said proudly. "This was the most exciting one of all years because of the level. All these horses we'll see again next year. Also the judging was good now as they look for horses with a future."
Owned in partnership with Andreas' long-time business associate Hanni Toosbuy Kasprzak, Revolution is not for sale. “I always say that all of our horses are for sale, but this one is special to me. What else can you wish for? He has such a nice character, it is out of this world. I previously owned the triple world champion Sezuan, but I think Revolution is even more complete.”
Outstanding Destacado Gets Silver
German Matthias Alexander Rath and the Hanoverian licensed stallion Destacado (by Desperados x Londonderry) scored the silver with an outstanding ride in which the balance, self carriage and easy going flow were the highlights of the test. Bred by Heinrich Giesselmann and owned by Friederike Lohse in partnership with Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff, the chunky chestnut stallion is maybe a bit slow behind and not the most, modern athletic type, but he certainly is radiant with his sympathetic look and suave way of moving.
The trot had much relaxation and balance but could have had more push from behind and spring off the ground. In the first medium trot the stallion moved on two tracks. The walk was outstanding with a very clear 4-beat rhythm and great overstep. In the turn of the haunches there was a small hesitation. Destacado's noseband was quite snug and one wished for more chewing, but he remained steady in the contact. The canter work was very obedient and balanced, also in the counter canter, but the chestnut struggled with the downward transition to trot.
Destacado scored 8.9 for trot, 10 for walk, 9.4 for canter and submission and 9.7 for perspective. It totaled 9.48 points which earned them silver. Colliander praised the horse as "poetry in motion" with a trot that is "very natural and super secure in rhythm", a walk that has "energy, overtrack and lovely relaxation" and a canter that is "functional, but that could be a bit more active and uphill." They also liked the "good contact" with the bit.
Matthias Rath, who is a former German Grand Prix team member on Sterntaler and Totilas, is a newbie at riding World Young Horse Championships. The first-timer was excited about his silver. "I'm really happy," said the Zurich based rider who commutes to his home yard Schafhof in Kronberg near Frankfurt, Germany. The horse has been in the barn since he was three and was initially ridden by another rider before Rath took over. About the horse today he said that "the walk is for sure a highlight, but in the trot I could have risked more, but I wanted to be safe."
Crowd Favourite Candy Claims Bronze
Eva Möller and Paul & Hilde Wendeln's Oldenburg mare Candy OLD (by Sir Donnerhall I x Furst Heinrich) were the clear crowd favourites of the day and provoked heavy clapping and even a few standing ovations in the bleachers. The dark bay mare is an absolute ballerina with her unparalleled, lightfooted gaits, super quick hindleg, freedom in the shoulder, and prima donna looks.
While some find her engaged and quick hind leg usage absolutely phenomenal, others clearly see a different articulation between the two hind legs with the left one being lifted more than the right one. Still, her trot was very expressive, but in both the trot lengthenings she almost ran away (and the first one was on two tracks) and there was hardly any collection in the corners. The mare impressed with her smooth flow and forward energy on the curved lines, but in the half halts she bumped a bit against the contact. The extended walk was very ground covering, but the rhythm got easily compromised, especially when she had to shorten the gait. The turn on the haunches was well ridden, though, but in the second simple change she paced. In canter Candy was active and sharp but at the moment the left lead is much better developed than the right one as the mare flexed the hocks more and reached more under.
The audience was ecstatic and the judges followed suit: "What a lovely, lightfooted, charismatic top ballerina," said Colliander. The mare was praised for having the hindlegs "well under the point of gravity in trot", for her "good rhythm and energy" in walk, but there could be "more suppleness in the back" and for the "well balanced and uphill" canter. They also liked that "the contact in the trot is very, very good." They rewarded the mare with 9.8 for trot, 8.6 for walk, 9.4 for canter and submission and 9.7 for perspective to total 9.38 points.
The Hagen based Eva Möller is a seasoned medal winner at the World Young Horse Championships with a string of PSI auction horses: she won double gold on Sa Coeur, silver on Soliere and double bronze on Blickpunkt. Aboard Candy she moved from sixth place in the preliminary test to third in the Finals. "I tried to listen to the judges and what they had written down. On the first day she was too hurrying and I tried to sort it out and it worked."
The bay mare, who was the Oldenburg Elite Mare Champion in Rastede as a 3-year old, was not a happy camper going into the arena for the Finals test today and she also got high strung during the prize giving and left before the lap of honour. "Most of the good horses are sensitive. I only got Candy in February and I had to get used to her and she to my riding," Möller explained. Eva took over the ride on Candy from Helen Langehanenberg, who was pregnant at the time. The mare will now return to Helen's stable, although Eva, a mom of four, joked that "I hope it's not the last baby she has."
Zucchero Moves to Fourth Place
Hof Kasselmann in-house trainer Frederic Wandres and the Oldenburg stallion Zucchero (by Zonik x Prince Thatch xx) landed fourth place with 9.24 points. The 2017 PSI Auction horse, which sold for 370,000 euro to Star Horses, impressed with his rideability and quality basic gaits.
The Zonik lookalike has much cadence in trot and showed good suspension in the lengthenings, even though he could be slightly quicker from behind. In walk the stallion strode actively with much overstep, but there could even be a longer V-moment in the rhythm. The canter was solid with especially good balance in counter canter but overall the horse could swing a bit more over the back with uphill tendency. In the trot with given rein he rushed a bit.
The judges rewarded Zucchero with 9.3 for trot, 9.8 for walk, 8.7 for canter, 9.1 for submission and 9.3 for perspective. This landed Wandres and Zucchero in the fourth place, a second time right off the podium for Wandres, who last year was decorated with the bronze medal and then stripped of it due to a calculation error!
Dressage Pure from Dorian Grey De Hus
For the lovers of true, pure dressage, today's epitome of young horse dressage riding was delivered by the French pair Jessica Michel-Botton and the Selle Français bred Dorian Grey de Hus.
The tall chestnut gelding Dorian Grey de Hus is bred by his owner Xavier Marie of Haras de Hus and he is by the late Grand Prix horse Don Juan de Hus (by Jazz) out of a clone of former World Champion mare Poetin (by Sandro Hit x Brentano II). This very interesting cocktail of DNA, combined with immaculate training by Michel-Botton, produced magic in the Ermelo arena.
The trot was really beautiful with good self carriage and rhythm, also in the lengthenings. The extended walk covered much ground, but the clarity of the rhythm got a bit compromised in the collected walk. Michel rode the canter work slightly more diligently in the Finals test compared to the preliminary, in which the horse show cased his spectacular uphill canter in a better way. Now ridden a bit more conservatively, Dorian Grey's canter was not always as uphill in each stride, and he made a funny swing with his left hind in the second simple change. Overall the horse was nicely soft in the contact and up with the poll. The turn on the haunches was well executed, but in the left volte Dorian Grey tilted the head a bit.
After a four year absence from the international show ring, Michel-Botton had a very emotional ride today and burst into tears on the final halt and salute. The judges rewarded the qualities of the horse appropriately with 9.5 for trot, 9.0 for walk, 8.9 for canter (which could have been more had Jessica ridden with more risk), 9.0 for submission and 9.4 for perspective. They placed fifth with 9.16 points.
Upon leaving the arena, Michel-Botton turned round and pointed her finger to Don Juan de Hus' name on the score board in memory of the stallion which she trained to Grand Prix and then prematurely lost in August 2017 when he died unexpectedly from intestinal poisoning.
The Best of the Rest
The 5-year old Finals test featured 16 horses in total and this year two horses scored below 7.0. A favourite for the title was Danish Young Horse Champion Zhaplin Langholt (by Zonik x Stedinger) but his test lasted merely 10 seconds. After a late entry into the arena and the halt at X, the horse showed blood in the mouth on the centerline and got rung out.
The best scoring KWPN bred horse in the pack was the German owned and Oldenburg licensed Ibiza (by Desperado x Jazz) under German Juliane Brunkhorst. The chestnut stallion painted a beautiful picture with his uphill frame, knee action, chestnut coat and white stockings. His expressive front truly draws the attention and the horse is quick and engaged from behind and achieves good ground cover, but the hindleg is more a pushing than a carrying one. Also the noseband was very tight on this horse. Ibiza was slightly hurried on the curved lines. The walk had two hooves overstep but in the simple changes it lost quality. In canter, he showed big uphill strides, but became a bit hectic and unbalanced, especially in the counter canter. Still the chestnut was a real eye-catcher and got 9.4 for trot, 8.5 for walk, 9.4 for canter, 8.5 for submission and 9.0 for perspective (total 8.96 points).
Bart Veeze and Theo Driessen's KWPN licensed stallion Imposantos (by Wynton x Krack C) finished seventh with 8.92 points. The black is very expressive in trot and achieves much ground cover. The walk was good but the rhythm could be clearer. The canter was uphill but the left counter canter was significantly better than the right one. The horse lost the impulsion in the downward transition to trot and the end halt was sloppy. The stallion earned 9.0 for walk and trot, 8.7 for canter, 8.9 for submission and 9.0 for general impression.
Danish Under 25 Grand Prix rider Victoria Vallentin and Straight Horse Ascenziano (by Zack x Don Schufro) qualified for the finals by placing second in the consolation finals. They finished 8th with 8.78 points. The dark bay mare, who is the full sister to triple World Champion Sezuan, has a smashing trot with much knee action and very clear articulation in the joints, but she tilted the head on the serpentine and was strong in the contact on the left rein. The turn on the haunches was too big. The extended walk was large, but the rhythm could be more 4-beat. In canter the sensitive mare got tense and lost the clarity of walk in the simple changes. Ascenzione was active and quick from behind though, but could have a hindleg more reaching under the body. She scored 9.2 for trot, 8.9 for walk, 8.8 for canter, 8.2 for submission and 8.8 for perspective.
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - No Reproduction Allowed
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Eurodressage Coverage of the 2018 World Young Horse Championships