International Competition Gains Some Momentum

In a relatively quiet week, Isabell Werth continues to win Grand Prix after Grand Prix, there were a smattering of Group 1 races and there was the sad news of the passing of Sir Michael Stoute’s long-time partner Carol Pritchard-Gordon. On the world stage, this weekend saw muted but still very poignant ceremonies remembering and celebrating the end of World War Two with VJ Day. We rarely comment on non-equestrian matters, but this anniversary is important to us all as it reminds everyone about the horrors of war and without those brave men and women in the 1945 Burma conflict, the world would now be a very different place.

Holly Smith – Hearts Destiny who sadly died this week. A huge loss to Great Britain.

In showjumping, Great Britain’s Holly Smith’s top horse Hearts Destiny, a horse with a perceived great future on British Teams, died at only 11 years old last week. This will be a huge loss to the British selectors. In Deauville in France, not only was their top racing but also a 3 star FEI CSI competition. The Grand Prix de Normandie attracted 59 starters of which four were based in the United Kingdom. They arrived in France before the latest UK rules came into effect of having to quarantine on their return to the UK. Holly Smith, Scott Brash, Laura Renwick and Shane Breen are all effected. The winner came from France, Edward Levy riding Sirius Black, a 14 year old stallion. He was one of only four double clears and just pipped Jose Maria Larocca from Argentina into second riding the 10 year old gelding Finn Lente. Scott Brash was third riding Hello Vincent. There were nine combinations who had a clear in the first round.

In the first FEI 4 star CDI dressage competition in Austria at Achleiten, the Grand Prix classes were shared by Isabell Werth and Victoria Max-Theurer. Isabell Werth, riding Emilio, won both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special with 80.935% and 77.106% respectively. Victoria Max-Theurer won the Grand Prix Kur with 70.665% riding Rockobilly. In Germany, at the Steven Borgmann Farm Auction, a four year old dressage stallion changed hands for a mere 1.65 million Euros. The buyer was RS2 Dressage Stables in De Horst in The Netherlands. In a World Cup dressage qualifier in Ruila in Estonia, Both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Kur was won by Estonian rider Dina Ellermann riding Donna Anna. Meanwhile in Hungary, the European Youth Champions continue with German young rider Emily Rother taking the individual Gold medal. Obviously, a talented rider making a name for herself and likely to be in the main headlines in the not too distant future. The world young horse championships for 5, 6 and 7 year olds have now been re-scheduled to take place indoors at Verdan in Germany in December.

The UK held its first international event since lock down over the weekend at Burgham. Not surprisingly it was overwhelming supported by many top riders. The main class was the CCI 4 star short programme with a huge entry of 93 runners. Kitty King took the honours with Vendredi Biats and a total score of 30.50 penalties. Ollie Townend was second with 32.70 riding Ballaghmor Class with Izzy Taylor riding Spring Power in third. 17 of the runners retired or withdrew after the dressage. She had a great event coming in the top ten with all her three mounts for the competition.

In the 1 ½ mile Group 1 in Cologne in Germany, the winner of the Preis Von Europa for 3 year old and above had seven runners. In a blanket finish, the Henk Grew trained Donjah won by a neck from Kaspar, another German trained colt. The third home by a further half length was Dame Malliot trained by British trainer Ed Vaughan. In Deauville, Frankie Dettori took the feature Group 1 of the weekend with Palace Pier trained by John Gosden. The Prix Jacques le Marois for 3 year olds and up had seven runners. In a slow run race, Alpine Star and Circus Maximus were second and third respectively and were both trained in Ireland. The trainers of non-French horses, had to quickly change jockey plans as the new rules of quarantine came into force on Saturday night regarding individuals returning from France, as was the case with the showjumpers. Frankie Dettori decided that he would ride and would stay in France for a week thus missing the York festival later this week. He has other rides booked next weekend in Deauville – as he said, he would have a little time off. In Saratoga, the feature race was easily won by Swiss Skydiver trained by Kenneth McPeek, The Alabama Stakes over 1 mile 2 furlongs on dirt.

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