There was an exciting conclusion to the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses 2020 at the Haras National at l’Isle de Briand in Le Lion d’Angers (FRA) yesterday, where German star Ingrid Klimke steered Cascamara to claim the 6-year-old title and compatriot Sophie Leube topped the 7-year-old category with Sweetwaters Ziethen T.
In a world so full of uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play havoc with all things including the sporting calendar, there was both relief and delight that the annual event went ahead. Speaking during the prizegiving for the 6-year-olds, in which she finished third, Dutch athlete Merel Blom praised the tremendous effort of the organisers who ensured the much-anticipated fixture took place with careful consideration for health protocols while also offering a strong test for the latest crop of talented young horses.
Riders from 19 countries and horses representing 22 international Studbooks competed for the prestigious titles.
Mares claimed the top five places in the 6-year-old division in which there was 38 starters, but it was the Irish Sport Horse gelding MHS Brown Jack who was out in front going into the final day with Great Britain’s Tom McEwen onboard. The pair posted a Dressage score of 26.6 and added nothing on cross-country day, but two mistakes in the final Jumping phase dropped them to sixth in the final analysis.
Klimke and Cascamara (Cascadello ll and Taramanga x Templer GL XX) lay second on their Dressage mark of 27.4, and when they added nothing to that scoreline had victory in the bag. There were just four eliminations on cross-country day when 20 combinations jumped clear across the beautifully-designed 20-fence track, and amongst those eliminated were the fourth-placed Australian partnership of Kevin McNab and Cute Girl.
The leaderboard was shaken up again on the final day when clear rounds proved hard to get. A total of 31 made it through to the final test and 25 of them collected penalties. Zero scores saw Ireland’s Cathal Daniels and the Irish Sport Horse LEB Empress rocket up from 15th to eventual fifth place while America’s Tiana Coudray make a spectacular improvement from 12th to fourth with the Holsteiner Cabaret.
Lying in overnight fifth, The Netherlands’ Merel Blom and the Holsteiner mare Corminta Vom Gwick finished third despite the addition of 1.2 time penalties, while a pole down and 0.4 for time saw Germany’s Sophie Leube and Isselhook’s First Sight drop from fourth to eighth.
All the pressure
Great Britain’s Oliver Townend was lying third with the Irish Sport Horse Cooley Rosalent and added nothing to his scoreline, and when Klimke and Cascamara followed suit then all the pressure was on leader McEwen and MHS Brown Jack. A single error would have dropped them to third, but two down saw them having to settle for sixth. Klimke’s smile was as a wide as an ocean when she stood top-of-the-line with her lovely mare at the end of the day.
“I bought her last year directly from the breeder, Helmut Bergendahl - one of the only breeders I know who still breeds for Eventing by crossing Thoroughbred mares with Jumping stallions. She competed at her first show on the last weekend in July and did a good job so I thought she could be ready for a 2-star quite quickly. She did three 2-stars and won the third, and when I brought her to Le Lion she was already more confident in the dressage.
“She was a bit green in the cross-country, especially at the water and the house, but when I asked her to give it a try she was right there - so bold and smart and clever. I thought nine minutes might be too long for her but she galloped around easily. In the showjumping she right away said ‘I know my job’, and she was never close to touching a fence, she was so easy to ride and I feel I have a new superstar coming along!”, Klimke said.
Leube was all smiles too when enjoying a runaway victory with Sweetwaters Ziethen T (Abendtanz and Zaria AA x Campetot AA) in the 7-year-old category. The German pair were on familiar territory having finished fifth in the 6-year-old division last year, and the stallion never put a foot wrong after posting the best Dressage score of 27.6.
There were 42 starters and 27 completions in this class in which there was an optimum time of 9 minutes 19 seconds on the 22-fence cross-country track. Leube and her handsome horse did it to perfection when crossing the finish line in 9 minutes 14 seconds, and when they kept a clean sheet yesterday they were simply untouchable.
On his fifteenth visit to these Young Horse Championships, French star Nicolas Touzaint slotted the Selle Francais gelding Diabolo Menthe into second after Dressage on a mark of 29.1, ahead of The Netherlands’ Blom in third with the Holsteiner Crossborder Radar Love (30.3) and New Zealand’s Caroline Powell with the Irish Sport Horse Greenacres Special Cavalier in fourth place (30.6).
Powell collected 20 penalties at the middle element of fence 15 to drop out of contention however and it was Leube and Touzaint, followed by compatriot Donatien Schauly in third with the Selle Francais gelding Dgin du Pestel Mili and Britain’s Laura Collett with the Irish Sport Horse Moonlight Charmer who topped the leaderboard on Saturday evening.
But Collett’s mare didn’t pass the final horse inspection so when the field regrouped yesterday it was Italy’s Filippo Gregoroni who was lying fifth with another Irish-bred, disarmingly called Unnamed, and despite a fence down this pair only dropped a single place in the final standings.
Two mistakes dropped Blom to eighth while French rider Camille Lejeune, 26th after Dressage and 10th after cross-country, shot up to fifth when the Selle Francais mare Dame Decoeur Tardonn picked up just 1.2 showjumping time penalties. Meanwhile Great Britain’s Alexander Bragg and the Irish-bred Ardeo Premier moved up from seventh to fourth when clear.
In the battle between the top three, Touzaint dropped a place when his fabulous big grey gelding left one on the floor allowing Schauly into runner-up spot when foot-perfect. And then Leube held her nerve to clinch the win in fine style.
As Klimke remarked, these Championships are held in high regard by the world’s top riders. “It’s one of my favourites for young horses because they learn so much here, there’s no other course with such a variety of fences and terrain. My inexperienced mare was spooky at the first water, but by the time she got to the second water she had already learned a lot and was in a nice easy rhythm. Thanks to everyone at Le Lion for giving us riders and horses a great opportunity in these difficult times!”
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