Anna Ross shares her thoughts on the NexGen finals at Hickstead and discusses what’s needed to train a horse through to grand prix level...
THE recent Nexgen championships were a huge success. With Hickstead as an iconic venue, with great prize money, prizes for breeders and embryo transfers for the highest-scoring mares, it made for a really exciting final. The multi-discipline approach made it feel akin to Germany’s Bundeschampionate and I think it will continue to be a real draw.
The top five combinations in each class were outstanding. British breeders were out in force and four-year-old Romanno Weltino, bred by Jennifer Gilchrist at Romanno Stud, was well presented by Jezz Palmer and stood out for me as a fabulous future prospect.
Riding young horses in balance is an art, and I thought Emily Bradshaw’s riding stood out, as did Dylan Deutrom’s.
Finding the best fit
BRITISH breeders are bringing quality horses forward and for riders without deep pockets, this is a fantastic opportunity to form partnerships. To be successful, the riders need to ask themselves what they can bring to each horse, not what the horse can do for them, and versatility is key to bring out the best in all types.
Interestingly, some of the top stables across Europe are taking a cooperative attitude, sending top horses to the riders that fit them the best. Blue Hors has recently sent the exciting Zepter to their former rider Andreas Helgstrand, and Van Olst has sent Fendi T to Severo Jurado Lopez. This team approach maximises the chances of overall success – there’s no place for ego in training horses.
Young horse championships can be controversial both in concept and results. The judges were chosen well for the Nexgen series, with Olympian Emile Faurie and List One judge Richard Baldwin at the helm.
Evaluators need the psychic skills of Mystic Meg and the tactical prowess of Lewis Hamilton to predict the future champions. While there is a lot of discussion about young horses risking their long-term
soundness by being over-pressured to win lower level classes, the facts remain that many do go on to top level from young horse championships. Totilas, Weihegold, Scandic, Dablino, Desperado, Dream Boy, Duke Of Britain – the list of top grand prix horses successful as young horses goes on.
In fact, 14 international grand prix horses came out of the 2003 World Young Horse Championships, and three from the top 10 of the British young horse championships that year. The following year, there were 17 from the World Championships. Of course, you have to look back a few years because of the time it takes to develop them to grand prix.
These horses need to stick with riders who can develop them with the “end game” in sight. Some horses are suitable for young horse classes and others less so. Go with the horse and don’t try to make it into something it isn’t is my advice for long-term success.
The riders who were in the top 10 at the Nexgen championships are smart enough to train these young horses on, and I’m excited to follow their progress.
Dubious dishing out
IT was a long journey to Hickstead from my base in Devon, and my head rider Beth Bainbridge and I amused ourselves by listening to dressage podcasts, which are very enlightening. But I was left with one burning question by the end – why is it that all the competent, talented riders question themselves so much and are very humble, whereas others, with much more dubious credentials, are dishing out advice online like a daily dose of Prozac?
H&H 24 Sept 2020
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