It wasn’t the biggest surprise when Team Germany dominated the first week of the FEI Dressage European Youth Championships 2020 which drew to a close at Pilisjàszfalu in Hungary today. But plenty of drama accompanied their clean sweep of gold in both the Junior and Children’s categories and, as this afternoon’s Junior Freestyle winner Valentina Pistner said, “it’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster!”
Ups and down are the order of the day in equestrian sport, and although Pistner joined Allegra Schmitz-Morkramer (Lavissaro), Jana Lang (Baron 321) and Anna Middelberg (Blickfang HC) on the top step of the Junior Team podium on Tuesday, hers was the team discount score.
Middelberg and her nine-year-old horse produced the highest individual mark, and the German total of 222.212 gave them a generous advantage over the Danes in silver on 214.818 while the bronze-medalled Dutch posted a final tally of 213.515. However the margin of German victory might have been even greater if Pistner, who finished 27th individually, hadn’t run into trouble.
“Sadly my horse had his tongue over the bit. It happens sometimes and there is little you can do in that situation, but we tried fighting, we tried to finish our test so that we could give a fourth score for the team,” the 17-year-old rider explained. She pulled it right back on Wednesday however when lining up in silver medal spot behind Middelberg in the Individual Championship in which Lang made it a German whitewash when taking the bronze.
And then Pistner went one better when Flamboyant danced his way to the top of today’s Freestyle scoreboard. Middelberg, who took team gold at the FEI Dressage Pony European Championships in both Kaposvar (HUN) in 2017 and Marignano (ITA) last year, threw down the gauntlet with a score of 78.480 when fifth-last to go, and that was always going to be tough to beat. Team-mate Lang challenged strongly when posting 77.040, but she had to settle for bronze when, last into the ring, Pistner nailed it with a mark of 79.285.
“It’s such an incredible feeling – this is my third European Championship and my ninth medal!,” said the rider who lives near Frankfurt (GER) and who describes the fabulous Flamboyant as “just the sweetest.”
She could have allowed Tuesday’s result to affect her for the rest of the week but she kept her head and carried on.
My motto is ‘just do it, stay calm and try your best because that’s all you can ever do!’ this wise young lady added.
Flamboyant was bought from German Dressage superstar Isabell Werth in December 2017, and the new partnership were already being scouted for the 2018 European Championships just a few weeks later. “We were able to win three silver medals that year and our journey has continued since then, but now it may be time for us to step up to another level,” the new champion revealed this evening. “I’m not sure yet, it hasn’t be fully decided, but I have been riding Juniors since I was 13 and it’s maybe time to move on and try to progress and improve.”
The Children’s team title went to Germany on Wednesday when the three-member side of Clara Paschertz (Danubio OLD), Emily Rother (Jasper 224) and Caroline Miesner (Angelina 331) pinned their Dutch counterparts into silver while France claimed bronze. It was a tight contest when the winning total of 245.468 left Germany just 0.2 ahead of their nearest rivals. The highest marks of the competition went to 14-year-old Rother who put 84.025 on the board, and she made it a golden double when topping this morning’s Individual Championship with 86.145.
This year a new judging system was introduced for the Children’s category, placing the focus on riding skills. So the Ground Jury members have different roles depending on where they sit around the arena, those on the short side overseeing the technical aspects of the test and those on the long side judging the ridden work. A “Quality” score is awarded with marks for position and seat, effectiveness of the aids, precision and general impression, and in this morning’s Individual Championship Rother racked up a massive 95.500 for Quality to secure a clear-cut victory with her nine-year-old gelding.
Silver went to her courageous team-mate, 13-year-old Paschertz, who was last to go and put a strong 81.355 on the board. A member of the winning Children’s team at the Tokyo 2020 Test Event in Hagen (GER) in May of last year, Clara was taken to hospital for observation following a fall from Danubio during the team prizegiving ceremony on Wednesday. But today she showered her seven-year-old gelding with praise after their lovely performance pinned The Netherlands’ Maura Knipscheer, riding the 15-year-old gelding Amaretto, into bronze medal position.
Rother, who hails from Bavaria in the south of Germany, was competing in pony classes until last year. “I have only had Jasper for the last six months and this is just our fifth show together. My parents got him from my riding teacher Sabina Schroedter, and he gives everything to me!,” she said.
Asked what her ambitions were coming to Hungary for these championships, the newly-crowned FEI Dressage Children’s European champion replied, “I just wanted not to finish last!” She definitely succeeded in doing that…..
The FEI Dressage European Youth Championships 2020 continue next week when Young Riders and U25 athletes take centre stage from 17 to 21 August.