ast year, Valentina Truppa proved she was a star of the future when she won the FEI Young Rider World Cup Final. And this year she showed she’s got a star horse for the future as well, as she defended her title in the Schenker World Cup Dressage Young Riders competition, Dec. 14-17 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Truppa, of Italy, won last year on the veteran campaigner Don Rico. But the gelding is aging. “Don Rico is still doing very well, but I do not want him to travel long distances anymore–that is why I brought my 9-year-old, Danish gelding Chablis for the European [Young Rider Championships] and now to Frankfurt,” Truppa said.
She puts high hopes for the future in Chablis, an elegant chestnut gelding. “I believe that he will become a good Grand Prix mount, and I hope to qualify with him for the Olympics, maybe already for the next ones. But if not for 2008 then for 2012. To ride once in the Olympics is my aim,” said Truppa.
Truppa, who has one more year in the Young Riders, bought Chablis as a 4-year-old. “So far, I have been training him on my own, but for the last three months I have started to work with Hubertus Schmidt,” she said.
The Young Rider World Cup Final turned into a duel between Truppa and the Dutch rider Lorraine van den Brink, who was the reserve European Young Rider champion earlier this year to Truppa. In the first test, Round 1, victory went to Truppa, who won with 72.35 percent ahead of the Dutch rider scoring 70.44.
But the tide turned in Round 2 to the favor of van den Brink and her 10-year-old, Dutch Warmblood gelding Murdock. The Dutch combination won the second class scoring 71.60 percent, while Truppa settled for second with 71.10 percent.
In the A Final, the battle reached a fevered pitch. As first to go, Truppa opened the freestyle test with a great performance, showing a very fluent, harmonic test. Her excellent score of 77.50 percent, seen at the end of the test by all five judges in first place, was going to be hard to beat.
And, it was certainly not van den Brink and Murdock’s day. They had to follow Truppa, going second, and the mighty, dark bay gelding became very tense. He didn’t really show a correct walk and ended up sixth with 67.85 percent.
This opened the doors for others, and Germany’s European team champions Andrea Timpe and Welttender stepped up into second place. Timpe was a last-minute replacement for her European Championship teammate Carolin van der Linde.
“Not to expect to be here and now becoming runner-up, that is very special for me,” Timpe said. “But, I feel also very proud for my horse. When I got him as a 6-year-old, I would not believe that Welttender would make it one day to the advanced level. At that time I was still very young myself, and we started at the beginners level and made it finally to advanced level together.”
Two riders traveled from North America to compete at the Young Rider World Cup Final–Laura Noyes of the United States and Alexandra Duncan of Canada. Both riders arrived with their horses in Germany on Dec. 2 and 3, respectively.
Noyes, who trains in the United States with Roberta Williams, and Syncro spent the weeks before Frankfurt training at the stables of U.S. team coach Klaus Balkenhol in the northwest of Germany. Duncan and Elektra moved into the stables of Ellen Bontje at Hofgut Neuhof, just 10 minutes south of Frankfurt.
But Noyes’ trip ended with awful luck. As her trainer Williams said, “Syncro had been absolutely fine in the warm-up, but in the extended trot during the team test he was not 100 percent OK. The judges did not ring the bell, but low marks were the result. We decided to withdraw Syncro for the second class. The veterinarians said it would be fine to take him home and examine him there more closely.”
For Noyes, a microbiology student at Ohio Wesleyan College, this was a hard experience, but the 19-year-old rider hopes to attend the Final again next year.
Duncan, who trains at home in Vancouver, B.C., with Leslie Reid, had met Bontje, the Dutch Olympic dressage team silver medalist, through clinics in Canada and plans to return to train with her in Germany in the fall of 2007.
Before Frankfurt, Duncan showed at a small horse show in Kreuth, Germany, to prepare for the Final. It was the first time showing in Europe for the 16-year-old, Canadian rider.
Duncan started the week with a fifth place (66.00%) in the team test. During the two following competitions, the combination gained self-confidence and steadily improved, also placing fifth in the second test with 66.95 percent and fourth with 70.50 percent in the freestyle test of the A Final, for which the best six riders of the second class had qualified.
In the freestyle, Duncan turned in a pleasant ride with harmonic transitions to a medley of Latin music. “I am really pleased with how Elektra went. It is really amazing for me to represent my country overseas and to take part in the World Cup Young Riders Final,” said Duncan, who has had the 11-year-old, Holsteiner mare for six years.
A Growing Program
Last year, the Schenker World Cup Dressage Young Riders competition debuted during the international Frankfurt horse show, held in the splendidly decorated Festhalle in Frankfurt, Germany.
In 2005, riders did not compete in leagues to qualify for the World Cup Young Riders. The finalists were recruited from results of the European Championships and some of them were sent by their federations as the reigning national champions. But for 2006, a real qualification system with five leagues was established.
Six riders from the Western European league, two riders from the Central European, two from the North American, two from the South and Central American and three riders from the Africa/Asia/Pacific leagues qualified for the final, but only one rider per nation could attend.
Additionally, the title defender was automatically qualified, if still of Young Riders age. Fï¿½dï¿½ration Equestre Internationale officials could also choose a wild card competitor from a nation not having a rider qualified.
The points for the ranking in the leagues were the average of two percentage scores earned in two Prix St. Georges freestyle tests of a CDIY, CDIOY or CDI*** with Young Rider classes. The riders had to deliver their best two freestyle scores achieved during the period from Jan. 1-Oct. 15, with a minimum of 64 percent, to their federations to be listed in the World Cup leagues.
If a rider had to renounce his or her participation in the Frankfurt final, the next highest rider was named, unless another rider of his or her nation was as well already qualified. From the 16 qualified riders from around the world, 11 competed in the first class, the test for the Young Riders Team Championships.