GREEK RIDERS DOMINATE FEI BALKAN DRESSAGE CHAMPIONSHIPS
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KATERINI, Greece, July 5–Greek riders claimed a colossal medal-haul at the 2010 FEI Balkan Dressage Championships, including three sets of team gold and two individual titles, but Romania’s Sorin Alexandrescou and Mercur Casino were crowned Senior Individual champion.
The Balkan Championships, which first took place in Istanbul, Turkey in 1968, have embraced a varying number of disciplines down the years and Dressage first featured in 1992. The region covers Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Moldovia. From the outset, the Championships have succeeded in promoting and improving the standard of equestrian sport in southeast Europe.
A total of 43 riders battled it out in the three levels of competition and the host nation got off to the perfect start on Friday when the Junior squad claimed the first team gold of the tournament. Rea Kapetanou (Gilbaeks Sika) set the standard with 67.135 per cent and together with Amaryllis-Aikaterini Goulandri (Red Diamond 4), Aggelii Vrettou (Cogito) and Dafni-Maria Sachinoglou (Mercedes) racked up a team total that gave Greece an advantage of more than four percentage points over Turkey in silver medal position, while Bulgaria finished less than five marks further behind in bronze.
The Greek seniors then followed when Katerina Los (Largos), Kelly Sklavounou (Dynastie), Eleni Myrat (Indy D St Gatien) and Hara Pouli (Wandango) scored an emphatic victory over Turkey’s Ferhat Yavas, Osman Hazinedaroglou, Yasemin Kap and Yasar Ayhan Okmen. Four nations took part in this team medal decider, and Bulgaria again took bronze while Russia, similarly fielding only a three-strong side, finished a long way behind in fourth.
Saturday’s Children’s Team Championship was another Greek triumph as Marianna Basdra (Forever), Fotini Georgitsou (Kolliante), Fani Stafylopati (Cassian) and Danai-Evgenia Stefanidi (Wilster) earned a combined score of 209.8 per cent to pip the Turkish side who completed on an aggregate mark of 193.856 per cent. Bulgaria again took bronze, finishing on a total of 188.28 per cent.
The young Greeks girls were completely dominant in the Individual Championships when taking all three medals with marks over 70 per cent in the Children’s Individual Final. Fani Stafylopatis took her second gold medal along with the title of Balkan Children’s Dressage Champion scoring 71.607 per cent with Cassian while Marianna Basdra (Forever) achieved 70.35 per cent to take silver and Fotini Georgitsou (Kolliante) claimed bronze with 70.26 per cent. Fani was delighted with her result but admitted she didn’t expect such a high score because she has only been riding her 11-year-old horse for four weeks. “Without my coach, Helen Myrat, and my parents, I couldn’t have done it,” said the 14-year-old rider.
The Junior title went to Amarylis Goulandris who produced a great Freestyle perfromance with Red Diamond. All the judges awarded high marks to this partnership who scored 71.80 per cent, and Rea Kapetanou ensured a Greek one-two by claiming silver with Gilbaeks Sika ahead of Turkey’s Alp Karliova and Risander in bronze medal position.
It was left to Romania’s Sorin Alexandrescu to ensure that it was not a complete Greek whitewash by claiming the Senior Individual title. Riding the 11-year-old bay mare Mercur Casino he received 69.450 per cent from the panel of five Ground Jury members – Slovakia’s Maja Stukelj, Dr Wojtek Markowski from Poland, Great Britain’s Jennie Loriston Clarke, Rafhael Saleh from France and Austria’s Thomas Lang. Kelly Sklavouos (Dynastie) on won silver with 67.65 per cent while the host nation also took bronze when Hara Pouli and Wandango earned 67.15 per cent.
FEI Technical Delegate Dr Wojtek Markowski commented afterwards on the development of dressage in Greece following the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and on the way in which Turkey is also progressing. “Not only Turkey is going forward,” he said, but “other countries like Romania and Bulgaria are coming back and are trying hard.”