All Pass First Horse Inspections at Young Horse World Championships at Le Lion d’Angers

Baby horses gonna baby horse: Lara de Liedekerke-Meier’s Origi hangs out with his tiger before his trot-up. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Bienvenue à Le Lion d’Angers! Though the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses has a slightly different feel to it this year, as it’s being run behind closed doors, the excitement and expectation is still high here in France’s Loire Valley. After a season of not much at all, we’ve finally come to our first — and indeed only — major championship of 2020, and our competitors will have a big week ahead of them as they battle to overcome a sparsity of runs with these six- and seven-year-old horses.

Though it’s sad not to see Le Lion’s usual enormous crowds, which provide an incredible atmosphere in ordinary circumstances, there are some new developments here that are so exciting. Chiefly, the installation of a proper surface in the main arena, which was vocally campaigned for by riders after torrential weather last year saw the playing field deteriorate into an almost unusable quagmire. It’ll be exciting to see how this new addition changes things for these exciting, talented, but still very green horses.

Ros Canter’s Izilot DHI gives the ground jury as thorough of an inspection as they give him. Rhian Smith (GBR) and Irene Leva. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

But first, the trot-up — and though it was masked up as expected, it felt delightfully normal to be back in the capacious concrete stables of Le Lion to get a first glimpse of these young horses. Starting the afternoon’s proceedings, 37 combinations presented for the Six-Year-Old CCI2*-L first horse inspection ahead of ground jury members Sandy Phillips (GBR), Laure Eslan (FRA), and Gerd Kuest (GER) after a brief announcement to all assembled to “think of unconditional love — and spread it around. The world needs it right now.” Don’t threaten us with a good time.

Albert Hermoso Farras and Keenabout Wonderland Z inspire a moment of drama in the first horse inspection. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

There would be just one moment of tension through the proceedings when Albert Hermoso Farras‘s Keenabout Wonderland Z was sent to the hold box, though ultimately the Zangersheide mare by Kannan was accepted after what felt like an achingly long period of deliberation.

An extraordinary 19 nations are represented at Le Lion this week, though none embraced their heritage quite so fully at today’s trot-up as the Austrians. Both Daniel Dunst, who brought forward Austrian Warmblood mare Della Stella SDH and Roland Pulsinger, presenting Holsteiner stallion Tiefenhof’s Lavalino, opted for some truly festive lederhosen, though Daniel embraced a sort of sports-casual hosen get-up, while Roland went full Oktoberfest. Any lederhosen’s a good lederhosen, if you ask us.

Over in the Seven-Year-Olds, both the outfits and the goings-on were much less dramatic: there were no lederhosen whatsoever, and none of the 43 presented horses was sent to the hold box throughout the inspection, which took place under the watchful eye of ground jury members Gerd Kuest (GER), Judy Hancock (GBR), and Ciska van Meggelen (NED).

Dressage gets underway tomorrow morning with the first half of the six-year-olds taking to the main arena from 9.30 a.m. local time/8.30 a.m. BST/3.30 a.m. Eastern. They’ll be followed by half the seven-year-olds after the lunchbreak from 14.00 local/13.00 BST/8.00 a.m. Eastern. You can find times for the six-year-old CCI2*-L here, and times for the seven-year-old CCI3*-L here.

So who should you be keeping an eye on tomorrow? In the six-year-old class, Felix Etzel‘s Trakehener Promising Pete TSFTom McEwen‘s MHS Brown JackKitty King‘s Monbeg Hendricks, and Merel Blom‘s Corminta Vom Gwick will be very much on our radar in the morning, while the afternoon will be tough to call: look to Sophie Leube‘s Sweetwaters Ziethen TSFLaura Collett‘s Moonlight CharmerTom Carlile‘s Darmagnac de Beliard and Cathal Daniels‘ Shannondale Mari to shake things up from the get-go.

And now, onto the important stuff: the photos!

Go Eventing.

The Six-Year-Olds in Pictures:

The Seven-Year-Olds in Pictures:

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