The German bred and owned St. Athletique became the winner of the second edition of the "4-Year Old Challenge" held at the 2022 World Championships for young dressage horses in Ermelo, The Netherlands, on Saturday 10 September 2022.
Sponsored by Sport Pro Horses and the Yom Tov Group, the 4-Year Old Challenge is an initiative which Hungarian entrepreneur and dressage lover Arie Yom Tov launched three years ago at the 2019 World Championships in Ermelo.
Promotion of Breeding and Sport
At its inauguration in 2019 the division became highly liked by riders, owners, breeders and spectators and a testimony to its success was that the 2019 winner, So Unique, is now in Isabell Werth's stable to be developed as a future Grand Prix horse.
The 4-year old challenge is contested via the FEI 4-year old test and consists of a qualification round with the top 10 moving on to a finals, while the others go into a consolation round to give the youngsters more ring experience and exposure. This year the first round was judged by Patrick Berends and Marian Dorresteijn, while for the Finals expert trainers and riders Alex van Silfhout and Bart Bax served as judges with Van Silfhout providing public commentary after each horse.
St. Athletique Wins 4-Year Old Challenge
While the majority of entries were Dutch bred and based horses, the winner of the Finals was the Hanoverian St. Athletique (by Blue Hors St. Schufro x Hofrat) who came from Germany. The black stallion, bred by Friederike Peters and owned by Stallion station Meyerhof, was presented by German Heiko Klausing.
It was a photo finish with three horses scoring 8.7 points on average, but St. Athletique put his best foot forward and won the division with 8.72 points. He received 8.7 for walk, 9.0 for trot, 8.5 for canter and 8.7 for submission and perspective.
The Dutch combination Judith Ribbels and her home bred KWPN mare Nanny McPhee tied in second placed with another German duo. Ribbels and her long-legged, sporty liver chestnut mare (by Vitalis x Sorento) scored 8.7 for second place. Nanny McPhee received 8.5 for walk, 9.2 for trot and canter, 7.9 for submission and 8.7 for general impression.
The Chilean owned Hanoverian mare Fall in Love (by Blue Hors Farrell x San Amour) also finished second with 8.7 in total. Owned by dressage rider Mario Vargas and bred in Germany by Kerstin Klieber, the black mare received 8.8 for walk and trot, 8.5 for canter, 8.9 for submission and 8.5 for perspective.
Wilaras Strike Again
The fourth place in the ranking went to Dutch Bart Veeze aboard the KWPN gelding Nero (by Ferguson x Totilas). Nero is the fifth (!!) breeding product of Indonesian Titan Wilaras that competed at the 2022 World Young Horse Championships in Ermelo, making him by far the most successful breeder at this show. Four of those Wilaras' horses are sired by Ferguson (by Floriscount).
Nero scored 8.42 points for a fourth place in the Finals with 8.8 for walk, 8.5 for trot, 8.2 for canter, 8.0 for submission and 8.6 for perspective. The gelding is owned by horse dealer Rom Vermunt.
Veeze also landed fifth place aboard Vermunt's KWPN stallion Nirvana (by Indigro x De Niro). Also bred by Titan Wilaras, this black stallion scored a total of 8.38 points with 8.2 for walk, 8.6 for trot, 8.4 for canter, 8.2 for submission and 8.5 for perspective.
"A Lot of Talent"
Judge Alex van Silfhout was very pleased with the results of the 4-year old challenge and the Dutch Grand Prix team trainer enjoyed having stepped into the rule of judge.
“It was a great class with a lot of talent," said Alex van Silfhout. “The horses were presented in a lovely, natural manner. It is impressive to see these young horses perform in such an arena. They were very obedient in this ambiance.”
He continued, “This is something entirely different than the Pavo Cup. The horses perform a test here. The quality of the horse is very important, but the execution of the test was decisive today."
About the winner, Van Silfhout stated, "St. Athletique is the total package. He showed quality and a very refined and consistent test”, praises Van Silfhout. Rider Heiko Klausing is very proud: “He has such a fantastic character. To think he is a stallion, merely four years of age and it is only our sixth competition, he is simply amazing.”