PLUS: HEATH ON HERNING & PRATONI, WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FIRST-TIMERS, ROGER’S HORSES TO WATCH, MICHAEL BAKER ON TRAINING COLLECTION, BEN ATKINSON’S ACTION HORSES, NIPPY THE TIKTOK SENSATION, MAXINE BRAIN’S LAMINITIS ALERT & RUDOLPH VALENTINO’S ARABIAN AFFAIR.
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A Few Words
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
BACK TO THE FUTURE AT THE WORLDS
BY HEATH RYAN
AUSSIES FLY THE FLAG IN ITALY
BY ADELE SEVERS
LYNDAL OATLEY ON RIDING THE CURVES
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
WHY WE LOVE OUR SPORT
BY DR KERRY MACK
BY ADELE SEVERS
RUDOLPH VALENTINO’S ARABIAN AFFAIR
BY SUZY JARRATT
GRAND PRIX HORSES TO WATCH
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
BEN ATKINSON MAKES MAGIC HAPPEN
INTERVIEW BY PHOEBE OLIVER, WRITTEN BY ADELE SEVERS
The FEI World Championships in Denmark saw over 90 dressage horses in action – and as you can imagine, there are many that are looking very exciting for the future. Having sat in the stands at Herning, these are the ones that caught my eye.
Of course, to begin with the Australian team produced some exciting performances. Fiderdance, WillingaPark Sky Diamond and Eros are all horses to watch for the future for sure. Fiderdance, a 13-year-old Oldenburg stallion, has only been partnered with Simone Pearce for a few months and to achieve a PB in the Grand Prix and qualify for the Special – where they also achieved a good score – was an exciting result.
Similarly, Jayden Brown and the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding WillingaPark Sky Diamond were riding only their fifth Grand Prix test together, and to pull off an equal-PB score was seriously exciting. Lyndal Oatley’s 13-year-old KWPN gelding Eros was also a star, producing a great Grand Prix test and qualifying for the Special, where unfortunately things didn’t go their way. Nevertheless, there is no doubt more to come from this charismatic grey – and the same can be said for Fiderdance and Sky Diamond!
Amongst the remainder of the 90-strong field, there were six others that stood out from the crowd…
12-year-old KWPN stallion (Lord Leatherdale x Negro)
The horse of the moment and for the future would be Glamourdale, ridden by Great Britain’s Lottie Fry. They were second in the Grand Prix, and then won the Special and Freestyle. This black stallion is outstanding in so many movements, and for me I believe there is still room for improvement and more marks to gain in the piaffe and passage tour. The passage could show a better forearm and a little bit more height, and in the end I’m sure this will develop. He certainly is non-comparable to a lot of the other horses, and of course is outstanding in the canter tour with amazing tempi changes and extended canter – but that’s just the 10s! Everything else is for 8s and 9s; it’s quite an outstanding combination and I think he will be one of the best horses that we’ve ever seen. This will depend on a lot of things, such as soundness, as we all know with dressage horses, but Glamourdale is certainly the talk of the town and probably the best dressage horse anywhere in the world at this stage.
Of course, a favourite with many people was Indian Rock, ridden by the Netherlands’ Emmelie Scholtens. A very big, dark bay horse with exceptional piaffe and passage and a fabulous topline, he is a little green at the level still, however being a Dutch horse and trained by Edward Gal, he has every opportunity to get to the top. Perhaps a little lazy in the Grand Prix, he got better as the competition went on, and was even a little hot at times in the Freestyle with all the atmosphere. Indian Rock is a very, very impressive big horse that moves quite differently and is a very different style of horse to Glamourdale. It will be interesting to see how this horse develops.
10-year-old Westphalian gelding (Vitalis x Blue Hors Hotline)
Vamos Amigos, ridden by Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour for Denmark, is another outstanding character in the dressage world who has been very, very successful. He didn’t have his best showing at the World Championships, perhaps becoming behind the vertical in several movements and losing a few marks along the way for that for sure. He’s a very correct horse with super training, and with the nose a little more forward, a little bit more relaxation, and more ground cover in the canter work, I am sure he will certainly come up in the marks again. All the same, it was very close in the Grand Prix… he in fact beat Glamourdale in that test and then Glamourdale showed a clean set of heels after that in the Special and Freestyle, but still very close. There’s plenty of room for improvement here in terms of a better topline and frame for Vamos Amigos, and I’m sure they will work on that. It won’t be the last you’ll see of this fabulous horse.
The horse Hermes, ridden by Dinja van Liere for the Netherlands, produced another outstanding performance in Herning, finishing third in all three tests. He’s a horse that’s a different style again from those mentioned thus far; he’s a lighter framed horse with not the most outstanding natural conformation, but by improving the topline and muscle development, this horse will go a long way. What makes him so wonderful is that he has a great ease for all the movements. He’s very light-footed and works in a very steady, continuous frame, and shows good cadence and air underneath him in the paces. Another horse that has plenty of improvement to come.
11-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Fürstenball x De Niro)
The horse that took my eye in the warm-up on the very first day was a small black mare called Heiline’s Danciera, ridden by Carina Cassøe Krüth and coached by Andreas Helgstrand. The rider makes her aids a little apparent, and the mare is exceedingly expressive and talented, but just lacks a little softness and experience in the ring. I think with a little bit more softness and maybe doing a little less, you’d see a lot more from this horse – but by the same token, they scored very well and were in the eyes of the judges throughout the competition, finishing seventh in the Grand Prix and 12th in both the Special and Freestyle. A beautiful Fürstenball progeny with a great joy of life and plenty of pizazz; she doesn’t take too much riding and makes the movements easy, but just needs to do a little less and be a little more chilled out, and you’ll see a really beautiful, soft performance from this horse.
15-year-old Oldenburg stallion (Danone 4 x Welt Hit II)
A horse that shows a lot of talent and that I enjoyed watching – but who unfortunately made mistakes in Herning – was Dante Weltino, ridden by Therese Nilshagen for Sweden. Weltino is an absolutely stunning put together horse with a beautiful topline and very expressive paces, and he makes all the movements well, but with little mistakes. He was certainly the unlucky horse in Herning. I think that the judges keep his history in mind when they judge him a little bit; his piaffe has been a little bit weak in the past, but I felt it was quite good at this competition, especially in the Freestyle. I felt the judges were just a little tough on him at times, but it’s difficult to get rid of history when it’s in their eyes. The pair finished 16th in the Grand Prix, 13th in the Special, and 11th in the Freestyle. All the same, a beautiful horse and I think he was a little unlucky not to have finished further up the list. EQ