Nicolas Wagner, Marcus Hermes and Christoph Koschel swept the big tour classes at the 2019 CDI Waregem in Belgium on 12 - 15 September 2019.
The CDI Waregem was hosted for the third year in a row at the Topsport Vlaanderen equestrian centre in Waregem.
The West-Flanders town of Waregem is best known for its annual steeple chase, the Ascot of Belgium, at the end of August. In connection to that event, show organizer Dirk Vanwijnberghe has set up Waregem's "Month of the Horse", starting with the race, followed by the 3* CDI event, a 4* CCI eventing competition and concluding with a CSI 5* jumper extravanganza in the month of September.
The CDI Waregem is quite low-scale. It provides excellent footing, training and stabling conditions for its participants in a very low-key atmosphere. No VIP frills and mega advertisement, but all stripped down to the essence: the sport. The result is that Waregem boasted a field of no less than 120 participants, many of them seeking the privacy of a small show to make their CDI debut. A quick look at the Waregem participants list made it obvious that the show was going to be a debutant ball and that was enough incentive for Eurodressage to jump in the car and cover the opening day of competition.
Wagner Wins Big Grand Prix
With 30 starters in the big tour, the Grand Prix on Thursday was action packed. The class was won by Nicolas Wagner and the 10-year old Hanoverian gelding Quater Back Junior (by Quaterback x Bonheur). The pair's first Luxembourg Grand Prix team start at the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam did not go as planned. The chestnut was very tense and ended up biting his lip or tongue. The blood led to their elimination in the Grand Prix. Waregem was their re-match and Wagner, who is currently training with Ton de Ridder, had Quater Back Junior in a much better mental state. While the horse was still short in the neck, there was more control and concentration. The gelding still swung in the changes and got hot on the final centerline but there was plenty of quality for the judges to reward the test with a winning 73.935%. Van Daele, Kessler, Dichmann, Andersson, and Graham officiated in the Grand Prix. Four of them had Wagner first, one judge put them fourth.
Marcus Hermes and the Baumgurtel family's 9-year old Westfalian gelding Abegglen (by Ampere x Carabas) showed incredible maturity and control in their test. The horse had the poll as highest point in the half passes and trot extensions, but the rein back only had four steps. The piaffe passage work was lovely with very smooth transitions. There was a loss of balance in the right pirouette and on the final centerline Hermes lost the passage when the horse anticipated the final halt. Overall Abegglen needs to keep the nose a bit more out. Still Hermes and Abegglen produced a supreme ride and their 73.543% score and second place were surprisingly conservative of the judges.
Waregem was the redemption spot for another duo, Belgians Fanny Verliefden and her 11-year old Belgian warmblood stallion Indoctro van de Steenblok (by Rubin Royal x Gribaldi). The black was visibly unconfortable in the testicular area in the Grand Prix at the Europeans in Rotterdam, which resulted in the horse kicking out and bucking in the Grand Prix. In Waregem, Verliefden was able to steer the stallion through the test with no legs lashing out. They landed on 70.609% for third place.
Hermes Wins Grand Prix Special
Hermes and Abegglen did ended up with the trophy they served in Waregem when they won the Grand Prix Special on Saturday with 73.447%. Fanny Verliefden moved up a spot and landed second place on 72.043%.
French Camille Cheret Judet made her international show debut on the 12-year old Oldenburg gelding Duke of Swing (by Don Romantic x De Niro) in August and the CDI Crozet. She first crossed the border for a CDI abroadn when she came to Waregem and she arrived at the scene with quite a following. Duke of Swing is owned by Thai HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Vajiralongkorn (she goes under quite a few different names, but is usually referred to as Princess Siri).
Siri purchased Duke of Swing at Alexandre Stadelmayer's barn. She also bought Lord Liechtenstein there, but that horse didn't work out for her. Siri was previously trained by French Jean Philippe Siat, but now works with Camille Judet Cheret, daughter of French 5* judge Isabelle Judet. Siri often draws attention when she arrives at a show because of her court following, but this time it was the Deluxe version with a Belgian police motorcade escorting the party to and from the horse show as Siri's father, the King of Thailand, was in attendance.
France's go at the 2019 European Championships was quite disappointing, especially because of the elimination of the 2019 French Grand Prix Champion, Charlotte Chalvignac, because of soundness issues with her horse, as well as France missing out on Tokyo Olympic qualification. The country is in desperate need of new blood to bring a strong team forward for their own 2024 Olympics in Paris on home turf. In Waregem two new French combinations appeared at the starting like: Judet on Duke of Swing and former team rider Marc Boblet on a new horse, Grand Voice.
Judet and Duke of Swing were 7th in the Grand Prix with 69.087% and third in the Special with 71.830%. Marc Boblet and the 8-year old KWPN stallion Grand Voice JRMF (by Charmeur x Voice) were 8th in the Grand Prix with 68.739% and fifth in the Special with 70.128% behind Wagner and Quater Back Junior (4th with 71.533%).
Koschel Back with Ballentines
German Christoph Koschel and his own 11-year old Hanoverian gelding Ballentines (by Belissimo M x Weltmeyer) made their first CDI start on European soil in two years time. The pair has actively competed in Wellington, Florida, in 2018 and 2019 but for Ballentines Waregem was his first Euro show since the 2017 CDI Cappeln.
Koschel and Ballentines were fourth in the Grand Prix on Thursday with 70.065% and bagged the Kur to Music victory on Sunday with 75.090%
Dutch Lucie Louws and her talented 10-year old Dutch warmblood gelding Evito (by Sir Oldenburg x Jackson) are a pair to watch for the future. The sympathetic gelding with his big blaze has a lovely passage and although he could sit more in piaffe he shows very solid Grand Prix work throughout. They were sixth in the Grand Prix with 69.348% and second in the freestyle with 73.780%.
Former Dutch team rider Sander Marijnissen and the 12-year old Dutch warmblood gelding Cool 2 Johnson (by Johnson x Balzflug) made their international show debut as a combination this summer. They started at the CDI Ermelo at the beginning of August, travelled to the CDI Donaueschingen two weeks later and now were in Belgium to add more mileage on their counter. In the Grand Prix there were still issues with the one tempi changes and a lack of steam in the piaffe, which led to a 23rd place and 65.304% score, but in the freestyle they soared to third place and 70.445%.
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED
Eurodressage was on the scene photographing all riders competing on Thursday at the CDI Waregem. If you are interested in photos for print or social media, send us an email.
Scores: 2019 CDI Waregem