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...and the fabulous mare Fiontini showed she has plenty of that when adding the 7-Year-Old title to her two previous victories at the 2017 Longines FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Dressage Championship in Ermelo, The Netherlands.
These Championships, supported for the second year by Longines, are designed to highlight the sometimes still raw, but often spectacular, potential of equine stars in the making, and to recognise the immense skill and commitment of the people who breed the greatest Dressage horses on the planet.
The judges are looking for flair, for that “look at me!” quality that sets the special ones apart from the rest, and for purity and lightness in movement.
It takes the best trainers and riders to produce these young horses in the correct way, and at this year’s fixture judge Christoph Hess said, “this was the highest standard we’ve ever had, the riding was really good!”
The weather did its best to add to the challenge with storms, wind and rain along with sunshine, but nothing was going to stand in the way of a week of great sport.
The Danish Warmblood Fiontini was bred by Hanne Lund and Henrik Hansen and was sold last year to Swedish young rider Beata Söderberg. But it was Spain’s Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez who steered her to victory in the 5- and 6-Year-Old categories in 2015 and 2016, and the 28-year-old rider was back in the saddle to do it once again this year.
“Fiontini has three gaits that are to die for and I had the pleasure of judging her last year as well. I absolutely fell in love with her!”, said South African judge Sharon Rhode. Only one other horse has ever won the three-in-a-row, the Danish Warmblood stallion Sezuan.
Fiontini scored 85.656% for gold, but the silver-medal-winning Hannoverian gelding Sultan des Paluds, owned and bred by SCEA du Vieux Capeau and ridden by The Netherlands’ Kirsten Brouwer, was close behind on a final mark of 83.515. Denmark’s Anne Troensegaard guided the Trakehner gelding Kipling, owned and bred by Peter Christensen, into an even closer bronze medal spot when scoring 82.445%.
Their overall total of 9.74 points saw them pin the Oldenburg stallion Ferrari, ridden by Denmark’s Andreas Helgstrand, into silver medal spot on a score of 9.2 while fellow-countryman Jan Moller Christensen clinched the bronze with the Danish Warmblood stallion Hesselhoej Donkey Boy.
Don Martillo was already showing off when scoring two 10s, for Walk and Trot, in the second qualifier and it was Donkey Boy who was lying second ahead of Ferrari going into the last competition. The Danish riders switched places however, Helgstrand describing his horse as “having a character of 10!” while newly-crowned champion Ann-Christin Wienkamp said Don Martillo was “really perfect today!”
Don Martillo, which was bred by Axel Windeler and is owned by Alex and Gut Lonken, has amazing freedom of movement and will be a fascinating horse to follow over the coming years. As Ground Jury President, Eddy de Wolff van Westerrode from The Netherlands said, “the quality is so high that you forget these horses are only five years old, they look ready to compete in Prix St George!”
Lordswood Dancing Diamond lived up to his name when claiming gold in the 6-Year-Old division, the Hannoverian gelding bred by Heinrich Ebeling and owned by Bg Whitefield & Stack producing a staggering double of 10s for German rider Anne-Kathrin Pohlmeier in the final competition.
The pair finished third in their qualifier, but 30-year-old Anne-Kathrin said that was because “he was strong and he was thinking quicker than myself….but today he was great, he let me ride him instead of making all the decisions himself! It was a brilliant feeling - a big moment in my life! I will never have a horse like this again. From the first day I rode him I knew he was destined for great things!”
In silver medal spot was the stallion Governor-Str whose sire is the legendary Totilas and whose mother is by Jazz, the horse that produced the glorious Parzival who posted so many successes for Dutch star Adelinde Cornelissen. In ninth with Governor-Str after the qualifier, double-Olympian Adelinde said that on the final day, “I knew that now I really needed to step on the gas so I took some risks, went for it, got it!” Bronze went to Spain’s Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez and Quel Filou OLD.
Asked during the week if there is an ideal model Dressage horse, Christoph Hess said, “the brain is very important, a top horse is a horse which is willing to be trained and has the right mentality and the right power.” And fellow-judge Eddy de Wolff van Westerrode added, “big ones, small ones, they all have a chance. The character and the attitude - they are the main things.”
Text by Louise Parkes
Images by Dirk Caremans