Damon Hill has made a winning international debut under his new rider, 17-year-old Jil-Marielle Becks, the daughter of the stallion’s owner, Christian Becks.
The pair were last-minute entrants to the Horses And Dreams show in Hagen, Germany (22-26 April).
They won the one-star prix st georges (PSG) class with 79.21%. The five individual judge’s marks ranged from 77.23% to 81.71%, with both the highest and lowest scores from the two German judges.
The Donnerhall x Rubinstein 15-year-old had an extremely successful career under his former rider, Helen Langehanenberg; their accolades including team and individual medals at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France in 2014.
Damon Hill began international grand prix in 2009 under Ingrid Klimke; his initial 65% score did not signal the great elite competitor the horse was to become.
The new partnership’s score in Hagen easily exceeded the 64% target to qualify for potential nomination for the young rider European Championships.
Jil presented the horse in public for the first time in a demonstration on 15 March at Equitana, a high profile German show (see video below). They ran through all the grand prix moves to critical acclaim.
Louise Bell delighted with Into The Blue
In the same class that Jil and “Dami” contested in Hagen, British combination Louise Bell and Into The Blue posted 65% (for 20th place from 27 starters).
Louise — a showing rider turned international small tour dressage competitor — was thrilled to be riding in such high caliber company.
She wrote on Facebook: “I’ve had a great experience today here in Hagen, Germany with my beloved Into The Blue in the small tour PSG. A few too many over eager to please mistakes and rider needs to think quicker!”
Louise was also touched that John and Robert Whitaker came over from the showjumping to watch over their home-bred Into The Blue compete for the first time.
“They were over the moon to see him and they thought he looked awesome, so that’s made my day,” she added. “It was a special moment for all concerned.
“With the likes of Damon Hill and Blue Hors Zack in my class — plus World champion riders — finishing about just over halfway down is not too bad. Hagen is quite the most stunning show ever.”