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Lead Up To London: Hamburg Derby

The Hamburg Derby is one of the longest running and most famous shows in Germany. It is set on a big park next to the Elb river and is a beautiful venue. While the showjumping arena is huge and spacious with banks and water obstacles, similar to Hickstead, the dressage arenas have the crowd so close they can almost touch the horses, making it quite difficult to keep the horses concentrated.

Originally I had decided to only start Umbro, but since I had to take Sancette any way I thought I might as well seek a start for him also.

The footing was good with Martin Collins sponsoring and providing the springy waxed fibre surfaces, laid down especially for the show. There were 30 starters in the GP, and I was third to go on Umbro. He had been working really well prior to the show and did a really nice test, so I was a bit shocked with my score of only 64.7%. Sancette was on much later so I headed to the stands to watch some of the tests. I then started to think I had made a big mistake bringing Sancette. Every German rider was marked up, and even with horses off the bit, stiff, hind legs out the back, bad walks, and many mistakes, the judges were seeing no wrong. The moment any non-German came in the smallest mistakes were harshly punished. Quite frankly it became clear that for certain riders the scores bore no resemblance to their performance, and I think it was some of the worst judging I have seen since being in Europe. Many other riders remarked on the same observation, and were quite upset.

Sancette was on towards the end of the class. He warmed up very well and loved the springy surface. I felt his test was more forward and his frame more steady than at Mannheim. I was really happy with his piaffe and passage. When I looked at the video his passage had plenty of air and was even and straight, and the same with the piaffe and transitions. I thought 66% was a fairly harsh score.

Our friend Dennis Callin on his lovely De Niro gelding did a super test. His horse grew in the arena, with beautiful rhythm and cadence, but his score of 66.5 did not reflect the quality of the work.

The only non-German in the first 7 places was the lovely Jazz son Macrider Premier ridden by Aat van Essen. Dennis Callin finished 9th and Sancette 12th. The class was won by Hubertus Schmidt on Lento. Hubertus however is a beautiful rider and although I didn’t see his test, I am sure he deserved his win. Hubertus went on to win the Derby with this horse. In the Derby, which was held on the final day of the show, riders have to ride the Grand Prix test on the two other top-placed horses. It is very testing for both the horses and riders, and it was no surprise that an experienced professional such as Hubertus would win this class.

Both my horses qualified for the Special and Kür. Umbro had to do the Special, as the selectors require that all horses must have done the new Olympic Special twice to be eligible for selection. This completed Umbro’s requirement, and Sancette had already done the two tests.

Friday was much warmer and there was a big crowd to watch the Special and the Kür. Both the horses did a good job and finished 6th in their respective classes. Apart from Sandy Philips’ negative score Umbro marked much higher in this class, and I was more happy with his frame and steadiness.

The Kür was held in the evening, and it seemed a foregone conclusion that Hubertus would win on Lento. However, it was not to be. Lento became extremely agitated by the close crowd and atmosphere and spun and bolted twice in the test, almost unseating Hubertus, which is not easily done. Aat van Essen with the Jazz son was the eventual deserving winner with a lovely test, with soft expressive music that complemented his horse.

Our next show is the final selection event in Compiègne, France. We are very much looking forward to a trip back to France. The team will be selected straight after the event. Vet checks will be on Monday afternoon, and then the team will be announced.


(All photos by Carol Newby)


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