At Last Normality Starts to Return to Equestrian Sport?
As the French Open Tennis championships come to an end, and the French arm of the Nations Cup was held in La Baule with a dressage CDI 4 star in Austria. However, the main menu this coming week has got to be the iconic Royal Ascot Meeting for five days, although sadly, again this year, The Queen will not be in official attendance. However, at last, normality appears to be returning to the equestrian world with a major 5 star Grand Prix and a showjumping Nations’s Cup. The main dressage event of the weekend was held in Austria at Achleiten. The G7 world leader’s summit was held once again following the outbreak of Covid, and other noticeable unlocking around Europe seems to be going ahead. All good news! In dressage, teams and selectors are racing to get their Olympic teams picked. In other disciplines, riders, who have already or likely to be selected for their country’s various Olympic equine disciplines announcing that they would not be available for the Games. While we all hope that the Olympics are a great success, it is beginning to look a little like some of the world’s top players have chosen not to attend, which could devalue the sport, which would be a great pity for both athletes and spectators alike?
On the seaside, La Baule in France hosted the French arm of the Nations Cup. Ten nations came forward with four riders in each team, At the half way stage, Switzerland and Ireland were the joint leaders having put no faults on the board. The Swiss only used three of their team as team member Biat Mandi withdrew before the start. They were closely followed jointly by Great Britain and Italy who had only 1 fault after the worst riders’ score was discounted and in third were Belgium with 4 faults, again after their worst team member score was discounted. In the second round, the Swiss continued with their good fortune and went on to win with a total of just 4 faults with Elin Beaumann removing one fence. The other two went clear, Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat. The second best team were Italy who had 6 faults from their top three riders, giving them a total of 7. Third were Belgium, who were very close behind with a total of 8 faults over the two rounds. Earlier second placed Great Britain came fourth with first round co-leaders Ireland coming in fifth. The host team France did not have a particularly good day in the office as they ended up being nine out of the ten teams.
In the Longines Grand Prix de Ville de la Baule, there were 50 starters taking on the Frederic Cottier designed course of 13 obstacles with 16 jumping efforts required. The draw saw a French trio start the proceedings, with Nicolas Delmotte riding Urvoso du Roch, the second horse in, getting a first clear round, one of only 6 clears for the whole class. Only two Frenchmen were able, from the 50 starters, to gain a double clear. Delmotte ended up the winner with 45.83 seconds with his fellow compatriot, Laurent Goffinet riding Atome Des Etisses just behind with 46.06 seconds. In third was Martin Fuchs from Switzerland.
In this shortened bulletin dressage staged a 4 star CDI in Achleiten in Austria. This 4 star VDI had two Grand Prix classes, one, as a qualifier for the Grand Prix Special and the second for the Freestyle to music. Each horse therefore would only compete in two classes over the event. Some of the big German dressage names were in attendance with some success, particularly Isabel Werth riding Emilio 107 taking the Grand Prix for the Special with 76.739%. The combination also won the Grand Prix Special with 77.340%. In second was Jeana Hogberg from Sweden riding Lorenzo 2% behind the leader and in third was Austrian Florian Bacher. For the second Grand Prix, an altogether closer affair, Austria’s Victoria Max-Theurer riding Abgellan FH on 71.196%. Just 1% behind the winner was Laurence Roos from Belgium riding Fil Rouge with Swiss rider Estelle Wettstein in third. In the Grand Prix Special, Isabel Werth went on to win a comfortably with fellow German Nicole Casper coming second. The GP second, Jeana Hopberg was fourth with Florian Bacher again coming third. In the freestyle, Victoria Max-Theurer won securing her second ever best score of 81.250% with the Swiss rider Estelle Wettstein second on West Side Story and the Belgian Laurence Roos in third.