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...and a highly professional group of Juniors and Young Riders is what made Friday afternoon at the CS Ranch in Givrins special. The ranch is owned by legendary F1 champion Michael Schumacher and his wife, and the venue is nothing short of spectacular.
The temperatures soared and the crowds gathered in the shade of the refreshment tents to bolster themselves before the event got under way.
Opening the Championship for the younger riders was the Juniors competition. With a total score of 638.5 Team Italy slid to the highest step of the podium taking top honours and the gold medal.
Sealing the deal was 15-year-old Matteo Bolzano who rode High Point Reiner, a.k.a. ‘Ruffy’. The talented 7-year-old Quarter Horse gelding is the past 2015 NRHA Non Pro World Champion with Matteo’s father, Manuel, in the saddle. “Ruffy is the most consistent horse I have ever ridden and once again he proved how level-minded he is today,” said Manuel. “Seeing my son wear the gold medal along with his team is a feeling that cannot be described, especially as I know how much time, passion and work Matteo and his team mates put into this sport.”
The whoops, cheers, whistles and roars of the crowd as they cheered on their country was deafening, and a different world away from the elegance and quiet decorum of world-class Dressage. It’s fascinating to see how strikingly different horse sports can be, although they still have the core of that unspoken connection between the horse and the rider.
Riding for France was Marie Baralon who reined her 8-year-old mare, Chicken Sandwich to the second highest score of the day, a 215. “She’s simply the best!” were Marie’s words following her run.
Defending champions, Italy, battled to leave Givrins with the gold medal around their neck. This time around their direct opponents were the determined young German riders. But it was not to be, and the Italians were the ones stepping onto the podium to collect their gold medals at the end of the afternoon. Belgium rode their way to the bronze medal, completing a thrilling day of world-class reining.
Text by Simona Diale & Paul Stretton
Photography by Gregory Takatch & Paul Stretton/FEI