Week seven of the 2022 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, Florida, wrapped up on Sunday, February 27, with further qualifying rounds of both the Lövsta Future Challenge Young Horse Grand Prix Series and the Summit Farm Future Challenge Young Horse Prix St. Georges Series.

Charlotte Jorst rode the nine-year-old Zhaplin Langholt to the top of the leaderboard in the Summit Farm Future Challenge Young Horse Prix St. Georges. (©susanjstickle.com)

Danish-born American rider Charlotte Jorst — who has enjoyed grand prix triumphs this season with her top horse Kastel’s Nintendo — proved that she has a worthy successor in her small tour horse Zhaplin Langholt. Jorst topped the Summit Farm Future Challenge riding the nine-year-old to 74.146%, almost five percentage points clear of the field.

These classes aim to identify and nurture talented, up-and-coming young FEI horses, giving them exposure to benefit their development for the biggest of world stages. Grand finals for both classes take place during AGDF 11. The AGDF circuit hosts seven weeks of CDI competition and runs through March 27.

Both Jorst and second-placed Michael Klimke (GER), who chalked up 69.264% on the Astrix son Harmony’s Astro, qualified for the final on March 25. Anna Marek (USA) filled third with 69.087% on Donauwelle P. Last to go of the seven contenders, Jorst produced a powerful yet harmonious performance on the leggy gelding by Zonik NOP. Under Danish Olympian Andreas Helgstrand, Zhaplin Langholt won the 2018 Danish young horse championship. Jorst bought him as a five-year-old but injuries and juggling international travel have meant that she has only been riding him consistently herself for the past 12 months or so.

“He’s just incredible,” she enthused. “He’s great in the ring, has a great mind and great gaits. He is the complete package. The past three months he’s been coming along like crazy. He’s so willing and already piaffes and passages, so I think he’s going to be my next [top] horse.

“The trot is always the easiest for him; you can just collect him, and he comes back in balance,” said Jorst, who amassed a smattering of nines in the test. “He’s so willing and wonderful. He really is like Nintendo: he likes being in the ring. He gets in there and he grows and looks at people and thinks they’re all there for him.”

Jorst is grateful of the opportunities the Future Challenge series offers.

“This class is such a good initiative because it gives us the courage to get out with these young horses, and even if there’s a little mistake here and there, it’s not judged so harshly. It’s a fantastic idea for young horses that you want to bring up through the levels. I’m so looking forward to doing the final with Zhaplin,” she added.

Jorst is mindful of not pushing the big-moving horse too fast.

“I’ll let him lead me, because I don’t want him to get injured,” she explained. “That step from the I-1 to the grand prix is always so treacherous, so I’m just going to take it really easy. Even if it takes him another year, I’ll do that, because he’s so special. Hopefully I’ll bring him to grand prix; he has his one-time changes, so it’s just about putting it all together.”

Her plans for summer include possibly campaigning Zhaplin at CDI small tour, with an eye on one of her favorite venues.

“It would just be to get him in the rings and get him around — not do too much, because I don’t want to ruin him. If we could do Aachen in the Prix St. Georges, that would just be unbelievable. To ride into that stadium with that horse, I could just lay down and die afterwards. It would be the best day of my life,” added the 57-year-old.

In the big tour class, Alice Tarjan (USA) unveiled yet another superstar to come out of her stable. She rode her own eight-year-old Desperado NOP mare Jane to the top spot in the Lövsta Future Challenge with 71.529%. Frederic Wandres (GER) came second on Harrods 3 with 70.793%. The pair is qualified for the finals via their win in AGDF 1. Devon Kane (USA) rode Gyllebo’s Vamos, by Vivaldi, to 64.146% and third place.

“I haven’t really done anything with Jane because it took a little while to bring her along,” said 42-year-old Tarjan. “Usually we do young horse classes but she didn’t really show until I did two I2’s with her this year. The plan is to get some miles on her, because she’s spooky, and she’s never been anywhere.

“She went around the beginning really spooky and impressed. But once she goes to work, man, the horse goes to work, and she’s so honest. It’s so nice to ride a horse like that that’s just easy and straightforward. This class is fantastic for the horses to come and be able to get the experience in the stadium ring. And then especially to have that quality of judges and know that those scores actually count and that they mean something.”

Tarjan was not expecting to win, so is unsure what the next steps with the horse will be.

“The goal this year was to try to qualify for Lövsta [final], so I didn’t think it was going to happen so fast. The horse basically knows all the tricks, but the issue is trying to keep the self carriage, softness and the harmony throughout the test. She’ll piaffe all day long and has an easy mechanic for it,” added Tarjan who has had help with Jane from Debbie McDonald.

From last draw in the Intermediate I Freestyle CDI3*, sponsored by Donato Farms, Silva Martin (USA) steered Christina Morin-Graham’s 11-year-old Blueberry Hill to a personal best 72.915% victory. The chestnut mare, by the Jazz son Boston, is lightly competed, having only three CDI tests on her record. This was her first international win. Bianca Berktold and Imperial — already double winners this week — also laid down a career best score, of 72.53%, to finish second. Lauren Knopp rounded out the all-American podium, securing third with 69.15% on Amadeus De Massa.

Chloe Gasiorowski (CAN) piloted Susan and Tim Dutta’s 15-year-old Dimaggio gelding Dimacci DC to the winner’s blue sash in the Intermediate II CDI3*. Given the unanimous nod from the five judges, Gasiorowski and Dimacci garnered 68.294% at their first international show together. Formerly campaigned by Susan Dutta, Dimacci has been out of the CDI spotlight since 2019, when he competed on the summer circuit in Europe. Making up a truly international podium, Swiss rider Barbara Bertschinger finished second with 66.471% on Sonnenberg’s Solisco CH, with Luuk Mourits (NED) taking third on Harmony’s Don’t Stop The Feeling with 65%.

Sunday’s action marks the end of week seven of the 12-week 2022 AGDF. International competition resumes in week eight on March 2-6 with CDI-W and CDI4* competition in the Palm Beach Dressage Derby, as well as a full roster of tests in the national arenas. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.