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Celebrating very special WC para dressage horses

Rodolpho Riskalla riding 19yo Don Henrico

By Claartje van Andel
Photography: FEI, FEI/Juilliart; FEI/Dokoupil

In a thrilling finale to the 2022 World Para Dressage Team Championship, the Netherlands successfully defended the world title they won four years ago at WEG in Tryon (USA). This was the more special and unique, as no Grade I rider – who receive the highest scores – was included in their team.

The gold clinching team included Sanne Voets (Grade IV) riding the 14-year-old gelding Demantur RS2 (Vivaldi x Elcaro x Zebulon, breeder R.M. Reuzenaar, owner RS2 Dressage); Demi Haerkens (Grade IV) riding 14-year- old mare EHL Daula (Gribaldi x Michelangelo x Eclatant, breeder Ab Barneveld and Joop van Uytert, owner EHL Horses, Paul Swinkels, Rianne Swinkels); Lotte Krijnsen (Grade III) riding 16-year-old mare Rosenstolz (Rotspon x Sandro Hit, breeder Jurgen Kurz, Frielendorf, owner Krijnsen family; and last but not least Frank Hosmar (Grade V) riding 17-year-old gelding Alphaville NOP (Sandreo x Iglesias x Marinier, breeder A. Hendriks, owner the Hosmar family). The team included two debutants with Krijnsen and Haerkens and, as previously mentioned, no Grade I contribution. The Dutch team scored 230.225%, just 0.464% ahead of Denmark with 229.751%. And in a repeat of their Tokyo 2020 Paralympics breakthrough, the USA took the bronze with 225.355%.
For the team championships, six tests count, three (best of four) individual tests plus three (best of four) individual tests. After the penultimate team test of Grade III, it was clear that the final medal positions would be decided in the final Grade V test.
First up among the medal winners was Denmark’s Nicole Johnsen with her 13-year-old gelding Moromax, (Occacio x Schampus, breeder Steffen Madsen, owner Karina Johnsen, and TAF [the Danish Trakehner Association]). She scored 73.310%, leaving Dutch-man Frank Hosmar and Alphaville NOP with a target of 75.297% to take gold. Hosmar pulled out a stunning performance to score 75.786%, and retain team gold for the Dutch. It was a quite emotional result as Alphaville had previously suffered an injury and had to be rebuilt over a long period, so gold prompted a heartfelt response from Hosmar, who said; “It was all smiles from ear to ear when I was riding. Although everybody was expecting I would grab the chance, I was not nervous at all as Alphaville gave me everything. He likes to shine and wants to be part of this stage. This might have been our last paradressage championship. I’m also focusing on sport for able bodied riders together with my trainer Adelinde Cornelissen. The future will tell.”

Extra special in Grade I

Naturally, para dressage horses are extremely special to their riders as they provide perhaps the one and only opportunity in their lives to feel the same as any able bodied rider. In this class the test only comprises exercises in walk and halt, so it’s vital that they demonstrate an exceptional walk.
Likely the very best walk in all the para dressage tests belonged to double bronze medal winner Cleverboy (Vivaldi x Kennedy x Chronos, breeder G. Gijsbers) shown by Irishman Michael Murphy. Cleverboy had achieved scores around 67% in Grand Prix shown by British riders Anna Ross and Bronte Watson. Watson wanted Cleverboy – nickname ‘Charlie’ – to continue in sport and when Murphy tried him the result was a perfect match for the para athlete. According to Watson, who used to loan him to other people for prize giving ceremonies; “Charlie loves going places and being involved in things. You can do anything with him, he is the safest horse. Charlie just loves attention, and going to Michael is everything I could have wished for him because all this horse has ever wanted is to feel special, Now he definitely is and I know he is very happy.”
The 17-year-old Rheinland-bred Royal Delight (Royaldik x Don Primero) was the gold medal winner of the Freestyle and silver medal winner of the Individuel test, while 14-year- old gelding King of the Dance (Kadilak x Kings LS, LWB) won the silver Freestyle and individual gold with Rihar de Snikus... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber