The Netherlands proved unbeatable in the Young Riders category at the FEI Dressage European Championships 2021 for Young Riders, Juniors and Children which came to a close at Oliva Nova in Spain yesterday. However Germany dominated both the Junior and Children’s podiums in a week of great sport.
Marten Luiten led the Dutch domination of the Young Riders category. Riding the 11-year-old mare, Fynona, the 19-year-old athlete produced the top score of 77.677 in the team test in which Dutch pathfinder Quinty Vossers (Hummer) scored 70.441. But when compatriots Milou Dees (Francesco) and Thalia Rockx (Golden Dancer de la Fazenda) posted 74.000 and 73.853 to finish second and third individually, that left the result beyond doubt with the three best scores to count.
The team total of 225.530 gave them a significant nine-point victory over Germany’s silver medallists Helena Schmitz-Morkramer (DSP Lifestyle), Elisabeth Von Wulffen (Giesta Bonita), Anna Middelberg (Blickfang HC) and Luca Sophia Collin (Descolari) who posted a combined score of 216.294. Denmark’s Victoria Cecilie Bonefeld Dahl (Comtesse), Sofie K. Hansen (Dieu D’Amour 3), Laura Jarlkvist Rasmussen (Aatoftens Dornier) and Sara Hyrm (Skovborgs Romadinov) put 211.295 on the board, but they bagged the bronze by only a little over a single percentage point ahead of the strong Spanish side.
Belgium finished fifth and Sweden lined up in sixth, while a total of 14 teams competed.
Luiten proved untouchable again for both the Individual and Freestyle titles. The judging panel of Mariette Sanders-van Gansewinkel (NED), Kurt Christensen (DEN), Maria Colliander (FIN), Francisco Guerra Diaz (ESP) and Thomas Lang (AUT) were in complete agreement when putting him top of the order with a big score of 79.617 in the Individual in which team-mate Rockx took silver (73.765) and Germany’s Collin claimed the bronze (73.740).
And Luiten was once again the across-the-board Freestyle winner, while it was an all-Dutch podium when Rockx again took silver and this time Dees took bronze. In a test that earned multiple 9s and two scores of 10 for their canter half-pirouette, the gold-medal-winning pair who took three-time silver at the Junior European Championships in 2019 and Young Rider double-gold last summer, posted 83.155 for Freestyle victory.
“During the whole competition season we were already in great shape and we really wanted to show that in Oliva Nova as well. I feel like we had three good tests, I was very happy after each of them. Taking home three gold medals is an amazing feeling and I don’t know the words to describe it, it feels awesome!” Marten Luiten (NED)
“I’m also very proud of my team members, who also took team gold and some individual medals. A Dutch top three in the Freestyle was what we were wishing for, so I am also very proud of them and of course the whole Dutch team who are the best supporters you can wish for!”, he added.
Great Britain’s Annabella Pidgley sprang a surprise when producing the top score of 75.455 in the Junior Team Championship, but there was nothing unusual about the battle for team gold in which Germany came out on top ahead of The Netherlands in silver and Denmark in bronze medal position.
Pidgley only started riding the 11-year-old Sultan des Paluds in March of this year, but a hat-trick of wins at the CDIJ in Wellington (GBR) two months ago brought the pair to the attention of selectors and the 16-year-old rider, who has three European Pony Championships on her record sheet, produced a sparkling team test for a score of 75.455.
However it was the second-best score of the competition produced by Lucie-Anouk Baumgurtel and Zinq Hugo FH that anchored the German victory. It was a solid performance from Maria Schierholter-Otte’s side with all four team riders scoring well above 70%. Lena Merkt (Sarotti Mocca-Sahne) put 73.212 on the board, then Kenya Schwierking (Cecil) posted 72.606 and this was the discard when Jana Lang (Baron) was awarded 73.000 and Baumgurtel rounded it up with 75.364.
Their combined score of 221.576 left Germany ahead of the chasing Dutch foursome of Pem Verbeek (Fernando Torres), Evi van Rooij (Don Tango B), Robin Heiden (Jivando S) and Sanne van der Pols (Excellentie) who completed with 218.091 for silver. Denmark’s Sophia Ludvigsen (Blue Hors Quintana), Annabelle Rehn (Vestervangs Garson), Frederikke Gram Jacobsen (Ryvangs Zafina) and Alexander Yde Helgstrand (Grevens SA VA) posted 215.485 for bronze. A total of 16 teams competed.
Pidgley produced two more exciting rides to take silver in both the Individual and Freestyle tests. But it was Baumgurtel who claimed the gold each time, while Austria’s Paul Jobstl steered Bodyguard 49 into bronze.
At just 17 years old Baumgurtel is already something of a Championship veteran, collecting multiple gold medals during her very successful pony career. She seems to thrive under pressure, and with 76.529 in the Individual and a handsome 82.045 in the Freestyle, she and her nine-year-old gelding Zinq Hugo FH were completely in command.
Rounding up the truly international podium on each occasion was 18-year-old Jobstl who has established a great partnership this year with his 12-year-old stallion Bodyguard, posting a hat-trick of wins in the lead-up to these Championships at both Sint-Truiden in Belgium and Ornago, Italy.
German team members Lara Lettermann (Soleil de la Coeur H), Lotta Plaas (Balsamico), Clara Paschertz (Danubio OLD) and Martha Raupach (Jack Sparrow) produced the best four rides in the Children’s Team competition to put the result beyond doubt.
Lattermann, age 14, led the way with 85.034 from her nine-year-old Oldenburg mare while Plaas, who will turn 13 next month, scored 82.844. Paschertz, also 14, was the veteran of this side having taken Team gold at the Children’s Championship at San Giovanni di Marignano (ITA) in 2019 and Team gold and Individual silver at last year’s event in Hungary where, together with Danubio, she also topped the Preliminary competition.
Their mark of 82.534 ensured Germany was unbeatable when the best three scores were counted for a final tally of 250.452. And the quality of the German side was underlined by the 79.692 achieved by fourth team member, 13-year-old Raupach and her 7-year-old Dutch gelding.
The Netherlands Flore Woerts (Vlingh), Fleur Kempenaars (Armano), Kyra Jonkers (Eyecatcher) and Lize van den Heuvel (Hilton-S) claimed silver medal spot on a combined score of 228.08 and bronze went to the Russian Federation when Ksenia Silyutina (Simfonia), Sonya Romanova (Skyfall), Polina Trofimova (Jerome vd Anjershof) and Agata Zakhrabekova (Ein Champion ZS) put 221.118 on the board. A total of eight teams competed.
In the Children’s Individual Championship some marks are allocated for the quality of riding, and with a strong 9.5 for both Effectiveness and General Impression, Latttermann had the edge in the battle for the title when scoring 85.548. Team-mate Paschertz was not far behind in silver medal spot on 83.834 and it was Dutch team-member Lize van de Heuvel, silver medallist at this year’s Dutch Dressage Championships, who clinched the bronze when racking up 81.570 with Hilton-S.
Elke Ebert (GER), President of the Ground Jury for the Junior category, was full of praise for the organisation of this year’s Championships. “It was a wonderful event run by friendly, helpful people and the atmosphere was great. The conditions and facilities were fantastic and we got only positive feedback from everyone involved”, she said.