The Grand National de Dressage at St Lo in Normandy, held November 14-16 was the first dressage show in Normandy since the excitement of the World Equestrian Games. Normandy Dressage – led by their president, Jean-Claude Leterrier, who was the Chef d’Equipe for the WEG French Para Dressage Team, hosted the competition at the Pole Hippique, St Lo. This was the last stage of the Grand National de France, a competition which takes place across France in show jumping, eventing and dressage. Representatives from various teams have been gaining points in their respective disciplines in the previous stages and at this final stage the winning team decided. Stephanie Brieussel on Amorak won the Grand Prix with just over 70%. The invited German judge Peter Engle gave her 72.8% which bodes well for the combination’s future on the international stage. Present at the Grand National De Dressage, Saint Lo, Normandy, France was Jan Bemelmans who was hired as the French Dressage Team trainer in 2012. Bemelmans was the Spanish Team Trainer for 15 years who led Spain to its biggest dressage successes to date.
Amorak is an impressive nine-year-old KWPN gelding by Special D out of an Inspeckteur mare. At nine he still has more to come, his changes both one time and two time were clean, and he scored an eight for his left pirouette. Other highlights were a lovely cadence in his steps and his piaffe which was very rhythmical and improved as the test continued. Stephanie bought the horse as a barely broken five-year-old, “I bought him because I liked the look of him, he had a nice head!” she explained afterwards, “He was a bit mad, not really sellable to an amateur rider.” Stephanie trains with her husband and partner of many years Dominique, “We just took our time with him, worked a lot at home, we didn’t take him out until he was eight-years-old. And then he taught himself really, he’s very intelligent and a good learner – once he has understood something then he’s got it.” Stephanie is based near Paris, and has been on the French squad for a while, but is not pushing the nine year old: “There’s still things to work on with him, he needs to grow up a bit more, so we are aiming him for 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.” she said.
Second place in the Grand Prix went to last year’s winner, Claire Gosselin riding for Equidia Life on a 16-year-old Gribaldi mare Karamel de Lauture, owned by the Haras de Lauture. While he was not as strong in piaffe he performed some lovely flowing trot work, especially in the half passes. She also showed clean expressive changes and scored 8’s for her pirouettes.
Jean Phillipe Siat was third on his veteran 18-year-old Weltmeyer ll gelding Tarski Van de Zuuthoeve, riding for Kinetton-Bottes Koenigs. He also found not having a fluid piaffe and transitions in and out expensive, as well as a mistake in the two time changes, but the trot work was good – especially the powerful and cadenced extended trot across the diagonal and the scopey half passes.
Stephanie and Amorak , increased their score in the Grand Prix Special – a much smaller class, Amorak’s piaffe was much improved showing more active steps and real promise for the future. They won the class with 71.43%. Stephanie didn’t take part in the music freestyle class , which again had only three entries, and this was won by Jean Phillipe Siat and Tarski with 70.675%.
For full results of all the stages see the Grand National website: grandnational.ffe.com.
EuroDressage Photo from CDI Compiegne photo report