THE ECCO FEI World Championships kick off with the first dressage competition on Saturday, August 6th, in Herning, Denmark where Ireland will be represeted by a team.
Johann Hinnemann will be hoping that two-time Olympian Anna Merveldt will lead her three teammates who make their championships debut in Herning. “The aim is a top-12 finish with each combination performing their best with a view to improving as we move towards the Europeans in 2023. My programme design is simple, I want to encourage talented home grown athletes into dressage top sport and compete on the world stage. We have seen the biggest growth in new combinations competing for Ireland in the past year or so," Hinnemann commented.
The top six teams (excluding host nation) qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
So who is representing Ireland?
Rider: Alex Baker (26)
Horse: Dutchman (Jazz x Fantast)
Owner: Alex Baker, Carol Baker, Tim Baker and Daniel Champion
Form: A championship debut for the both horse and rider, despite being selected for last year’s FEI European Championships before they were forced to withdraw due to an injury. The 14-year-old gelding has been consistent at CDI3* level since 2020. They scored a Freestyle personal best of 69.36% on their last international outing in Hartpury to finish ninth.
Rider: Sorrell Klatzko (42)
Horse: Turbo (Totilas x Florestan I)
Owner: Sorrell Klatzko and Janine Shoffner
Form: The only Irish-based of the four dressage riders, Sorrell burst on to the scene in 2021 with the now nine-year-old gelding. Although a championships debut for both, they witnessed the championship atmosphere when competing in the CDI3* classes at last year’s Europeans in Hagen. They had numerous international outings this year, scoring a Grand Prix personal best of 67.56% and Grand Prix Special PB of 68.36%. Have yet to perform a Freestyle, which will have no impact on the team in Herning.
Rider: Abigail Lyle (37)
Horse: Giraldo (Rousseau x Flemmingh)
Owner: Abigail Lyle
Form: Another to make her championship debut and on fire with a good run of form. The 11-year-old Giraldo has been under her care since a young horse and they secured their selection when scoring both a Grand Prix (68.45%) and Grand Prix Special (69.53%) personal best in Hartpury to finish sixth and fifth, respectively, in large competitive classes. The pair won a CDI3* consolation Grand Prix in Compiègne, France in May on 69.34%. Another to have not performed a Freestyle, but all eyes will be on the team competition.
Rider: Anna Merveldt (59)
Horse: Esporim (Pagad x Quiaz)
Owner: Mario Greco, Eleonore Higgins, Michael Higgins and Giovanna Mazza
Form: Two-time Olympian Anna Merveldt will lead the up and coming riders in Herning, her fourth World Championship. The lovable 13-year-old Lusitano stallion was part of the historic ‘Girls in Green’ team that secured Ireland’s first ever Olympic qualification at the 2019 European Championships. An injury in 2021 kept them out of the Olympic Games, but they bounced back into action this year with numerous top-five finishes. Came close to Grand Prix PB (70.76%) on their last outing in Fritzens-Schindlhof CDI4*.
WHAT IS THE FORMAT?
The team competition is solely based on the Grand Prix, with three scores to count from each team. The Grand Prix is run over two days - Saturday and Sunday. Team medals will be given out after the conclusion of the Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Grand Prix is a qualifier for the first individual competition, the Grand Prix Special. The top 30 combinations qualify for the Special on Monday, August 8th, which will decide the first set of individual medals.
Then, the top 15 from the Special qualify for the Freestyle to Music, which takes place on Wednesday, August 10th. Only three riders per nation can compete in the Freestyle.