Bluetooth listens in Spain, Delera BB Delights in Stockholm and Showjumping in Madrid

The World Cup Qualifiers are now back in full swing with the relaxing of the Covid restrictions across the globe, but this weekend saw another black cloud on the horizon with the new Omicron variant threatening to derail further international competition down the road. In Spain, there was a dressage 5 star World Cup qualifier and in Stockholm, the Saab Top Ten 5 Star Dressage events went ahead. In showjumping, Madrid held their 5 star World Cup qualifier and there was the annual strong line-up for the Rouen 4 star showjumping in France.

Frederic Wandres takes the Grand Prix

With a few weeks without any 5 star dressage anywhere, like buses, two come along at the same time. In Madrid, Spain, the third round of the World Cup dressage competition attracted only 12 combinations for the short version of the Grand Prix, first trailed at Olympia in 2019. Seven of the riders were from the Iberian Peninsula unsurprisingly, with two from Germany and the Netherlands and one from France came forward for this Grupo Eulen sponsored Grand Prix. Frankly, in a rather low scoring round of this World Cup Qualifier, Frederic Wandres riding Bluetooth OLD took the class for Germany with a mere 71.895%. He led just, with Spain’s Juan Matute Guimon riding Quantico coming second just behind on 71.684%. The third was also very close up on 71.325%, this time Helen Langehanenberg riding Annabelle, the other German competitor at the show. Just to demonstrate how close the class was the fact that at least one judge for the top three riders had them placed in fifth place.

Helen Langehanenberg takes the freestyle

In the Freestyle the following day, again sponsored by Grupo Eulen, the placing’s changed from the Grand Prix with better marks in the offing. Helen Lanehanenberg took the honours with 80.500%, the only competitor to obtain an 80 percent mark throughout the weekend. Beatrix Ferrer-Salat riding Elegance was second with 79.220% for Spain, obtaining a full 10% more marks over her Grand Prix performance. The third place was taken by fellow Spaniard Juan Matute Guimon with 78.160%. All in all, this has to be considered a rather disappointing third round of the Western European League. The current result when all added together so far show that Frederic Wandres is in the lead with 57 points and Tamar Zweistra from the Netherlands in second with 43 points and Morgan Barbancon from France in third with 40 points. This World Cup league is in its infancy, it has to be said with only three rounds having taken place. There are supposed to be another 17 rounds to go, with the finals to be held in Leipzig in Germany in April next year. The next leg is in London at the London Horse Christmas Show being held at its new venue in the Excel Centre rather than the traditional Olympia Hall a week before Christmas.

Jessica Brewdow-Werdl shows her class again

It is probably rather churlish to castigate the Madrid round of the World Cup as being so disappointing as many of the top riders went to Stockholm in Sweden for the Saab Top Ten Dressage 5 star CDI Grand Prix. This is a competition which has been going for five years and carries the most prize money for any dressage competition in the world. There were some notable absentees however, Isabel Werth and Charlotte Dujardin to name but two who skipped this event. World number one and Olympic Champion was present, Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl riding TSF Delera BB showed that she was still on top by winning the Grand Prix with 83.435%, a full 4% ahead of her nearest rival, Cathrine Dufour riding Bohemian on 79.196%. In third was Henri Rouste from Finland riding Kontestro DB with 77.152%. Sweden’s Patrik Kittel, who created this event was fourth riding Touchdown.

In the Grand Prix Freestyle, Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl scored a magnificent 90.43% taking the class by some margin. Like in the Grand Prix, Cathrine Dufour also scored very highly taking second place with 88.005% and in third was Carina Cassoe Kruth riding Heiline’s Danciera, again for Denmark with 85.73%. The third in the Grand Prix, Henri Ruoste was seventh out of the ten in this freestyle class. This show, with the riders going purely for their personal gratification, certainly confirms that the Danes are coming up fast to be the second top dressage nation in the world behind the invincible Germany. Great Britain only had one representative in Charlotte Fry riding her black reliable stallion Dark Legend, and despite her personal best season and one of the top British riders, she is no match for the apparent power of several of the riders from both Germany and Denmark. The same has to be said for the whole of the British Team, they seem some way behind the top two now and the Netherlands, who were so prolific in days gone by seem well out with the washing!

Showjumping in Madrid

Julien Epaillard takes the Madrid World Cup Qualifier

In Madrid, there was also a round of the World Cup for showjumping in which there were 16 jumping efforts required over the 400 meter course set by Spaniard Janvier Trenor with a time allowed of only 69 seconds. There were 40 riders who came forward led by path finder Julien Anquentin from France who collected 4 faults. In fact the French did do rather well in that one of their riders took the class with a double clear and in 41.24 seconds – Julien Epaillard riding Billabong du Rumois. There were only three double clears in the class and the second fastest double clear was David Will from Germany riding Vier in 42.71 seconds and Ireland’s Denis Lynch took the third place riding GC Chopin’s Bushi. They were the three double clears taken care of; the first round saw six clear rounds and a further two horses also went clear in round one, but collected a time fault each. There were six combinations who retired in the first round and one elimination.

Valentin Besnard – winner at Rouen

In Rouen France, there was a 4 star CSI in which there were 50 combinations lining up, mostly French of course, but also with other international competitors to tackle the 1.55m top height and spread course. The first twelve were either home bred Frenchmen or from neighbouring Belgium, save only one rider from the Netherlands. The winner was Valentin Besnard riding a 10 year old Selle Francais bay stallion, Beau Gosse du Park from France, the only combination of all the starters to get a double clear round. The second place was taken by Gilles Thomas riding Luna Van Het Dennehof for Belgium as the fastest of the 4  faulters in the jump off with 33.50 seconds. There were four combinations collecting 4 faults in the second round, and all tried to beat each other on time – going like hell in night, but all came croppers with a fence down. The winner had the luxury of going last in the class, and having seen the results of his fellow competitors decided to forget about time and just collect that all important double clear. The third in the class was from The Netherlands – Kevin Jochems riding Emmerton. It was a truly international class with ten countries represented – unusual for a domestic 4 star CSI but normal for Rouen.

Meanwhile, following the vote to keep the same format as used in Tokyo for the Olympic Games in France for showjumping has attracted further criticism from some of the top riders in the sport. We still think that they are wrong and that if they really have gripes about horse welfare, then let’s hear them so we can all make a valued judgement? The fact that they have now only started to bleat about the format rather than doing so before the FEI vote was taken shows that apathy is not good way to proceed if you are that keen to have your say!

Images courtesy Ampascachi, The Gaitpost and Facebook and FEI

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