The expectations were high, the pressure was real, but Dinja van Liere rode her Hermès to impress around the massive Stutteri Ask Stadium. The result: in the lead with 78.835%, with room for improvement. A promising prospect for the coming days. The other Royal Dutch Sporthorses also stood their ground: four Dutch-bred horses ended up in the top six.
It has been known for some time that age plays no factor when it comes to dressage, but today that fact was emphasised again. The ten-year-old KWPN-approved Hermès (Easy Game out of a mare by Flemmingh) is in the lead, followed by the eighteen-year-old KWPN-approved Blue Hors Zack in fourth, the sixteen-year-old Buriel K.H. in fifth and the sixteen-year-old Classic Briolinca sixth. “It’s fantastic to see that our top horses can deliver top performances at such a late age. It says a lot about how we treat our horses” the Swedish Juliette Ramel responds after her performance with Buriel K.H. (Osmium out of a Krack C dam).
Dinja van Liere is relieved after her test: “It’s great to have the first day over with and to be able to continue from there. Hermès is incredibly smart, he knows exactly what comes when, but I’m happy with the result. Especially as I know he can do even better.” There’s a few little things she’d like to polish away ahead of the Grand Prix Special. “I just want to get rid of a few little mistakes on Monday: I really feel that I can. He built up some tension and I felt a little nervous myself,” she laughs. “Hermès is having a great season. He’s in top shape, but none of that counts because he has to do it now, and on Monday and hopefully on Wednesday too.”
Age is just a number
With his eighteen years of age and many championships under his belt, Blue Hors Zack has once again surpassed himself today. The Danish home crowd clapped and cheered during the last line and very rightly so: with a score of 76.724% Nanna Merrald Rasmussen rode to a new personal record. She’s in provisionally fourth position.
Hungry for shows
Eighteen years old, a European Championship, the Olympic Games, two World Cup Finals and now his second World Championship. And with that he’s got a thriving breeding career too. Blue Hors Zack (Rousseau out of a mare by Jazz) shows that top sport and breeding go well together. “He has been very busy with breeding,” says Nanna Merrald Rasmussen. Since the Tokyo Olympics he has ‘only’ been in the competition arena twice. “He must be a little hungry for the shows. Blue Hors Zack is better when he’s fresh. I really want him to continue to enjoy competing.” During the vet check on Friday he showed to be very fit to compete: his rider could hardly keep up with him. Nanna Merrald Rasmussen was over the moon with his performance. “I am so incredibly proud of Blue Hors Zack, it’s fantastic to get a personal record in front of the home crowd. The atmosphere and the support from the home crowd is abnormal. Tears almost rolled down my cheeks, it was so great. And the clapping during the last line: normally we only get that in the Freestyle!” Another fun detail: Blue Hors Zack is the only dressage horse to compete against his own offspring, by the likes of Zidane of the South African-rider Gretha Ferreira (70.00%), Zigzag of the Swiss Gilles Ngovan (69.223%) and Grevens Zorro of the Finnish Anna Tallberg (67.609%).
Better then ever
And Juliette Ramel was also incredibly pleased with her Grand Prix with Buriel K.H., who, like Blue Hors Zack, already has quite a few championships under her belt. “I am very, very happy with Buriel today. I felt a little extra pressure, because it wasn’t going so well in Aachen. But today he felt really good, even in the last line when the crowd started clapping he stayed super focused on me.” There is no lack of experience for this combination and they are definitely not thinking about quitting anytime soon. “Buriel did his first championship when he was nine years old. He feels better than ever. It seems like he really has all the strength now, and he feels so happy and fit. That makes me very happy. Every test is the same, yet he continues to enjoy it. At home I mainly keep him fit on the racetrack and in the aquatrainer, as he pretty much knows all the exercises by now. I just really want to keep him happy and am very much looking forward to the coming days.”
Sixth place for Classic Briolinca
With a score of 75.958%, Classic Briolinca (Trento B out of a Royal Dance dam) and Gareth Hughes are currently in a very good sixth place. From seasoned dressage horses to seasoned riders: after the withdrawal of the Australian Mary Hanna and Calanta (Johnson out of Goodtimes), Richard Davison is now the oldest participant in these World Championships. With his homebred Bubblingh (Lingh out of Matajo by Picandt) he scored 68.851%. The Connaisseur-son Chemistry and the New Zealander John Thompson scored 68.059%, the Irish Alex Baker rode her Dutchman (Jazz out of a mare by Fantast) to 67.531%. The test of the Hungarian Anikó Losonczy and Dior S (Spielberg out of Florestan I) was graded with 65.481%.