HGF and WEG 2014: New Records, New Standards10.07.2014
The rain and wind of Normandy did not dampen the thrill of being part of the World Equestrian Games 2014. For our team, Spain, and for our horse and rider, Jose Daniel Martin Dockx and Grandioso, the World Championships in France were a highly successful and unforgettable experience.
The 2014 WEG hosted the strongest field of dressage horses in history. The top 15 horses scored a full 5 percentage points higher (in final individual score) than the top 15 in 2010. As our sport grows in popularity, our horses and riders are growing in skills and capability, and the 2014 WEG was a celebration of new levels of achievement.
In the Team Competition, the top three teams were clearly defined prior to the games, and their final point tallies left them virtually untouchable. The only question was the order among themselves. The real drama—at least behind the scenes—was the placings for the next four positions: Spain, US, Denmark and Sweden were in a heated race. Predictions in the press put Spain and the United States behind the other two, and in most cases Spain coming in last, in spite of the results at Aachen where the Spanish took the bronze.
When the first two days of team competition were done, 98 riders had entered the arena in Caen, representing the best pairs from 47 nations. In the end, it was Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands in the medals, with US taking fourth and close behind Spain in fifth, followed by Sweden and Denmark—with the fourth through sixth place teams scoring less than a point and a half apart. Strong rides from the three top riders for Spain boosted the team above many well-known combinations for the other countries, with a finish that seemed to take many by surprise. Jose Daniel Martin Dockx and Grandioso finished13th in the Grand Prix with 74.23, setting a World Games record for the highest Grand Prix score by a PRE. A 75.1 for Morgan Barbancon and Painted Black, and 72.4 for Jose Antonio Garcia Mena and Norte ensured that all three would move on to the Individual finals in the Grand Prix Special.
In the Individual competition, Dani and Grandioso achieved a personal best in the Special, breaking the 74% mark for the first time in their career (74.09). An excellent score, just missing the top 15 for the Kur, the cut-off for which was 74.9. Individually, Dani and Grandioso finished 18th among the best 100 dressage horses from all the nations in the world—an exhilarating feeling for all of us at HGF, the fulfillment of many years of dreams.
By all accounts, 2014 WEG was quite different from 2010 in Kentucky. While there was no Fuego Moment at this World Games—no "underdog" who enchanted the audience, causing them to leap to their feet in thunderous applause—there was also no disagreement with the scoring or final placements, nor was there booing from the specatators this year, which must have been a relief for the FEI management. It was all very orderly, but with many high points and stellar performances by veterans and newcomers alike. For PRE horses, the elite results gave even more credibility to the benefit of having these horses make up part of an international team, and we predict that very few countries will turn away a horse based on breed if that horse is capable of scoring over 72%.
Following the Games, Grandioso returned home to Malaga, Spain for rest and time off. Soon he and Dani will begin to start preparing for the next big thing…..winter in sunny Florida.
Photo Credits: Susan Stickle and Bob Langrish