After an almost four year break from international competition, Swedish Grand Prix rider Marina Mattsson has returned to the CDI arena with an exciting new prospect, Helix.
At the 2023 CDI Le Mans they twice placed seventh in the big tour.
Marina Mattsson was one of Sweden's most successful youth riders, winning national titles in the youth and Under 25 division. She represented Sweden at multiple European Youth Riders Championships and was considered one of the country's most talented starts for the future in the 2010s.
Her talent did not go unnoticed and she signed on to be the professional head rider for Swedish investor Patrik Hannell. She has been riding for Hannell ever since and continues to train under the supervision of Jan Brink.
So far, Marina has not yet been able to make it onto the senior team aswith her Grand Prix horses getting sold each time. First she turned heads on the incredibly talented Cassio in the Under 25 division, but that horse sold to Danish Agnete Kirk Thinggaard. Her next start, Quatermain, did not take her to Tokyo as planned and sold to Beatrice Marienau.
Break from the CDI Ring
Mattsson last competed Quatermain (by Quarterback x Wilawander xx) in the CDI ring at the CDI Stockholm in June 2019. They were selected for the Swedish team for the 2019 European Under 25 Championships in San Giovanni in Marignano, but didn't go.
Since then Marina showed nationally and collected bronze with Quatermain at the 2020 Swedish Dressage Championships before the horse sold to the U.S.A.
In January 2022, Marina gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Lexie. The father is Alex Andersson, a racing car driver who drives for Hannell's motor racing team team.
"After we sold Quatermain I didn't have a horse ready for Grand Prix directly. That’s why I didn't compete internationally," Marina told Eurodressage.
At the 2023 CDI Le Mans on 10 - 11 February 2023 Marina made her long awaited international come back with Helix, an 11-year old KWPN gelding by Apache out of Zeester T (by Jazz).
Originally named Handsome Zee T, the chestnut is bred by A. Toonen Arts. He was originally accepted for the KWPN stallion performance test but never completed it.
Five years ago Hannell sourced Helix in Holland at the breeder and purchased him in a package deal with his one year older sibling Gladstone Zee T (now in U.S.A. with Chase Shipka).
"Helix was quite green but I really liked his character and how he used his body," said Marina about Helix when they found him. I felt straight away that he had a lot of talent for piaffe and passage and I like really hot horses like him, so it was a perfect match."
At the CDI Le Mans the flashy chestnut gelding scored 69.848 % in the Grand Prix and 73.655% in the Kur to Music.
"I was really pleased with our performance in the Grand Prix," she said. "Some hesitation in the transition from passage to canter, but overall a nice feeling in the test. A bit more tension in the freestyle and mistakes in the tempi changes. It’s only the second time he’s doing the freestyle."
The duo began competing at national Grand Prix level in Sweden in 2022 and has slowly been preparing him for his international debut.
"When we started competing national GP last year, I wanted to give him a nice experience with clean tests and not too much pressure," Marine explained. "Now I feel that he’s ready for a bit more. I’m hopefully riding the CDI3* in Herning in March and a couple of more international shows during the spring before we make plans for the rest of the year."
When asked if Marina is afraid this one will get sold too, she replied, "I think he’s going to be something special and he’s so ambitious and loves to work. He’ll stay with me and I can keep him for as long as I want."
Marina also named Notting Hill TH (by Floricello x Donnerhall) as one of the most exciting horses in the barn for the future.
"I believe a lot in him," she said. "It’s a different kind of horse from Helix but he has a lot of potential for the future."
Photos © Les Garennes - Astrid Appels - Barbara Schnell
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