THE Irish dressage team, which featured three championship newcomers, finished in 16th place at the Blue Horse Dressage World Championships in Herning, Denmark, on a score of 201.723.

It was a weekend of mixed emotions for the team with Sorrell Klatzko’s unfortunate elimination, but overall a wonderful experience for the riders who all reported they thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from the experience.

Chef d’equipe Johann Hinnemann was hoping for a top 12 finish, which didn’t quite come off, however new horses and riders have now dipped their toes in the championship waters and know what to expect next time around.

First to go for the team in Saturday’s Grand Prix was 26-year-old Devon-based Alex Baker who was sixth into the arena with the 14-year-old Dutchman, owned by Alex, Tim and Carol Baker and Daniel Champion. A 67% was the aim and they produced an excellent text to score 67.53%. Despite a couple of mistakes - they broke at the beginning of the first extended trot and missed one of the two-time changes, Alex was hugely pleased with the gelding whose lovely square halt ended a fine debut at the level.

“I was really happy, that was what I was aiming for and it was what I was getting all season,” Baker told The Irish Field. “He is quite a hot horse and we felt the atmosphere a little bit, that was why there were a few mistakes. I just wanted to enjoy every minute, to really remember it and really have a nice time because it is over so quick!”

Alex, who has represented Ireland at underage championships, really enjoyed the team experience. “It has been really good fun. It’s been so helpful to have a team vet here and to have training from Johann. What worked really well was I had my trainer Anna Ross here too so they worked together; Anna warmed me up with Johann standing beside her and then Johann took the headset at the end to help me with my passage and piaffe.”

Asked what the plan is now with the gelding, Anna, who rides at Ross’ Elite Dressage stable, said: “I haven’t planned anything, I would love to try some World Cup shows this winter, I would really like to do Olympia while I have a horse this level.”


Kildare-based Sorrell Klatzko, also making her debut at this level, was the second Irish rider to perform the Grand Prix on Saturday with her own and Janine Shoffner’s Turbo but the was sadly eliminated after the first extended trot when the ground jury said the nine-year-old was “unlevel”.

However, after assessment by the Irish vet JP King, Sorrell informed the media that Turbo was sound and well. A statement from Horse Sport Ireland said: “Given the significant atmosphere of the championships, it is not unusual that a first-time campaigner at world level for both horse and rider would become tense and lose the consistency of the movement. In the context of dressage, it is important to note irregular movement does not necessarily constitute an unsoundness.”


Co Down’s Abigail Lyle made her debut at this level on Sunday morning when third of the Irish riders to compete. Riding her own 11-year-old Giraldo, she scored a 65.71% after a solid test with the horse she has produced from a four-year-old. They lost marks for a mistake at the end of the two-time changes and unfortunately missed the one-times but produced excellent halts and showed a lot in extended trot and canter.

Abigail Lyle and Giraldo at the FEI World Championships in Herning \ Tomas Holcbecher

Lyle, who is based in Northumberland and trained by British legend Carl Hester, told The Irish Field: “It was unbelievable. It was a long road to here and something I never thought was within my reach. Me and my horse are not experienced at this; of course you want to go and have the best round of your life, that obviously didn’t happen but he was amazing, I am so proud.

“We have to keep getting out there, especially to shows abroad to get him exposure to the bigger shows, I need that too. He was my first real proper ride and it was a difficult start, he was a lot more that I was used to but we have learned together and I feel like we are soulmates!”

Lyle rents a yard and keeps nine horses including, she revealed, a three-year-old half sibling to Giraldo by Lottie Fry’s new world champion Glamourdale. She had both Hester and Hinnemann on the headset warming up, a moment she said made her feel like J-Lo!

“The warmup was a real moment… I was warming up and there was about 20 people here with me, I felt like J-Lo or something!

"But that’s what been amazing, it does take the weight off your shoulder as an athlete to have such a great team around you, the team here has made this a great experience.”

On Sunday afternoon, two-time Olympian Anna Merveldt completed Ireland’s World Championship campaign when scoring 68.47% with the 13-year-old Lusitano stallion Esporim, who is owned by Eleonore and Michael Higgins, Giovanna Mazza and Mario Greco.

While it was a good bit off their personal best score, the highlights included two fabulous canter pirouettes down the centre line, while a mistake in their one-times would have lost some marks. Merveldt finished best of the Irish in 58th place at her sixth world championships, the first being in 1990.

Commenting afterwards she said: “The ones mistake was unfortunate, I touched him with the spur at the wrong time and he listens to me! He usually never makes mistakes in the changes so that was my fault.”