There’s nothing quite like a home win, and today Spain’s Jose Daniel Martin Dockx and the 13-year-old stallion Malagueno Lxxxiiii thrilled the home crowd with a superb victory at the fourth leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2023/2024 Western European League in Madrid (ESP).
Fourth-last to go in the field of 13 starters, they threw down the gauntlet from the very beginning of their Freestyle performance when moving straight into canter pirouette followed by tempi changes. And their foot-perfect piaffe/passage and seamless transitions between the two movements consistently boosted their scoreline to the winning mark of 80.870.
On Friday the pair had to settle for third in the Grand Prix behind the French runners-up Morgan Barbançon and Sir Donnerhall ll OLD and Germany’s Matthias Alexander Rath and Destacado FRH at the head of affairs. But today Rath had to settle for second place with a score of 79.720 while Spain’s Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and Elegance lined up in third when putting 78.425 on the board and Barbançon slotted into fourth spot.
Martin Dockx could feel the improvement in his horse today. “The pirouettes, especially the one to the right was better, the relaxation was also a bit better, the changes felt more relaxed and I think all those things made a little bit of a difference between yesterday and today – I’m really very, very happy!” he said.
Once the eventual winners had surpassed Barbançon’s target score of 78.030 it was down to the final three to overtake them. And with too many mistakes fellow-Spaniard Jose Antonio Garcia Mena and Gladiador Do Lis did not present a threat when putting down a score of 75.330, although they finished strongly with marks of 8 and 9 towards the end of their test.
Rath and Destacado were the penultimate partnership but couldn’t quite make the 80 percent mark, although Rath was so pleased with his 10-year-old stallion’s performance that he clapped with delight after his final halt. And when Ferrer-Salat finished just behind him it was Martin Dockx who took centre stage at the post-competition press conference which was conducted in front of an eager and enthusiastic public audience.
This was only Malagueno’s fourth Freestyle today. “We made one in Aachen (GER), one in the Championship of Spain, and one last year in Sicab (Seville) and my expectation was that if I could be third like I was yesterday in the Grand Prix it would be great to be on the podium again. But today the Freestyle went really well so we are very, very happy and proud of the horse!” the 49-year-old Spanish rider said.
He said Malagueno is a lovely character. “He is super nice and super sweet, I can put my little daughter on him, he’s not scared of anything yet he has enough power to do Grand Prix – so he is very special!”
The pair were in the Spanish team at the FEI Dressage World Championship in Herning (DEN) last year and at the FEI Dressage European Championship in Riesenbeck (GER) this summer.
“I see such an improvement in him now. In the beginning the difficulty was that he was always too tense, he’s a very sensitive horse with a lot of power and he wants to give you all he has and sometimes he can’t control the power. Now he’s getting more relaxed and making it more easy for both of us!” Martin Dockx explained.
Malagueno is an Andalusian, a distinct breed also known as a PRE or Pure Spanish Horse (pura raza española) whose history can be traced all the way back to the 15th century. The stallion’s next outing will be at Sicab 2023 in Seville (ESP) next week.
“We have to be there because we have to make a good representation of our breed because people from all over the world come to this show! Then he will have a break that he deserves and then we would like to go to the World Cup in Doha (QAT) in February,” Martin Dockx said.
Further down the line is an even bigger ambition. “I would love to get him to Paris (2024 Olympic Games), it’s a long way but this is the goal even though it will be very difficult. In Spain now we have a lot of horses with a lot of quality and in eight months a lot can happen, but I hope we can make this goal come true!” he added.
Today’s result has shaken up the Western European league leaderboard, with Rath moving up to fifth place behind fellow-German Raphael Netz in fourth and Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald in third place. With a significant 54 points Barbançon has improved to second position but Sweden’s Patrik Kittel still sits at the top of the rankings with 68 points going into the fifth leg in London (GBR) in three weeks’ time.