Greek dominance was not quite so apparent at the 2013 FEI Balkan Dressage Championships at Yagodovo, Bulgaria recently where Turkish and Bulgarian riders also showed their strength.
At the 2012 Championships, staged at the former equestrian Olympic stadium at Markopoulo in Athens, the host nation swept the boards when claiming all the gold medals on offer as well as Senior and Junior individual silver and bronze.
But this time around, a double for Turkey in the Junior Championships and victory for the home side Children’s team saw the Greek contenders having to settle for a relatively modest hat-trick of gold. Nevertheless Angela (Kelly) Sklavounos was impressive when lifting the Greek Senior side to team glory before pipping team-mate Eleni Myrat in the battle for the 2013 Senior Individual title.
Myrat and her black mare, Solon Hit, registered a good mark of 67.868 to put Greece in a position of strength in the Senior team competition. Katerina Los (Largos) and Emmenouela Moushama (Indy de St Gatien) added 60.974 and 60.789 respectively before Sklavounos took her turn. And Ground Jury members Irina Maknami, Peter Hanshagy, Slawomir Pietrac, Jo Graham and Alain Franqueville gave the German-based 21-year-old their highest score of the team competition when awarding 69.105 which clinched the result.
The Greek team finished with a combined score of 197.947, while Bulgaria took silver medal spot with 190.053 and Turkey took bronze with 116.079. The best score of the Bulgarian side was posted by Odrey Caix and the dark chestnut mare Fantastico who scored 64.632.
Sklavounos then returned to do the double in the Senior Individual Championship. Her mark of 74.30 left her more than four marks clear of her nearest rival and Greek compatriot, Myrat, in silver medal position while Bulgaria’s Iana Zafirova and Gizel took the bronze.
Sklavounos first began to make an impression in 2007 with her black mare Dynastie with whom she competed successfully for four years at national and international level. Her next horse, Palatino, took her through Juniors and Young Riders and then she found Quanderas, who she calls her “dancing partner” and the mare which has successfully brought her to Senior level. Together they blazed a trail through the Greek Championships in May of this year, winning the Prix St Georges with a score of 67.76, the Inter 1 with a mark of 71.18 and the Inter 1 Freestyle with a mark of 72.209. They also competed in their first international show at Senior level at Vidauban, France in February where they finished fifth in the Inter 1 Freestyle final and fourth in the Inter 1.
Sklavounos seems to have all the hallmarks of a true champion. Despite a life-long struggle with dyslexia she is now an under-graduate in Business Management at Deree College in Athens. Her inspirational motto is – “Anyone can do ANYTHING as long as he/she wants it strong enough!”.
It was the Turkish team that came out on top in the Junior Team competition thanks to strong rides from both Karla Nahmiyas (Waterloo) and Rotem Ibrahimzade (Risander). Scoring 67.54 and 66.11 respectively this pair were joined on the winner’s podium by Defne Morova (Mirakulix) who earned a mark of 62.46 and Pia Alara de Marci (Neptun) who scored 59.05. They headed the silver medallists from Bulgaria by almost 15 points, but there were only three team members on the Bulgarian side. Katerina Tsvetanova (Preslav) registered a mark of 63.27, Alexander Krasimirov (Silver Boy) scored 62.03 and Krassina Krasteva (Diogen) received 56.43.
Turkey’s Nahmiyas was the definitive winner of the Junior Individual Championship when steering Waterloo to the leading score of 74.58. The silver medal here went to Fotini-Nepheli Georgitsou from Greece riding Koliante – this pair last year took individual bronze. And Rotem Ibrahimzade ensured Turkish dominance at this level when securing Junior Individual bronze with Risander with a mark of 66.88.
The host country had plenty to celebrate when Bulgaria claimed the Children’s Team title. Iva Todorova produced the best Bulgarian result when posting an impressive 67.00 with Gigantik and when team-mates Zdravko Trenev (Venus), Boris Raychev (Sekreto) and Liubomir Ivanov (Don Carlos) each registered 64 percent scores their final tally of 196.724 would be the winning one.
Turkey’s Lara Turnay (Nick), Neslihan Esen (Primadonna), Selen Skalin (Chiara) and Semih Sarimehmetoglu (Adamo) finished more than seven points behind to take the silver while Serbia’s Jovan Grujic (Szeplak Donci), Nikoleta Zidisic (Galja), Anja Markovic (Ferdynand) and Sara Poparic (Quincon Z) were another 14 points further adrift when taking bronze.
But the Greeks were back on top when taking Children’s Individual gold. A superb score of 74.54 put Melina Zografou-Alexiou and Nocsley in pole position ahead of Bulgaria’s Todorova in silver with 69.00. And Greece rounded it up with Children’s Individual bronze for Lydia-Evdokia Anesti and Nonchaloir.
FEI Balkan Dressage Senior Team Championship: GOLD - Greece 197.947: Solon Hit (Eleni Myrat), Largos (Katerina Los), Indy de St Gatien (Emmanouela Mousama), Quanderas (Angela Sklavounos); SILVER - Bulgaria 190.053: Beyv Izabel (Stefani Gacheva), Fantastico (Odrey Caix), Ambrozia (Rajko Ganukov), Gizel (Iana Zafirova); BRONZE - Turkey 116.079: My Dundee (Cetin Altin), Clock Work (Osman Hazinedaroglu), Otto (Ella Irene Gursoy).
FEI Balkan Dressage Senior Individual Championship Championship: GOLD -Quanderas (Angela Sklavounos) GRE 74.30; SILVER - Solon Hit (Eleni Myrat) 70.08; BRONZE - Gizel (Iana Zafirova) BUL 63.60.
FEI Balkan Dressage Junior Team Championship: GOLD - Turkey 196.11; Waterloo (Karla Nahmiyas) 67.54, Risander (Rotem Ibrahimzade) 66.11, Mirakulix (Defne Morova) 62.46, Neptun (Pia Alara de Marci) 59.05; SILVER - Bulgaria 181.73, Preslav (Katerina Tsvetanova) 63.27, Silver Boy (Alexander Krasimirov) 62.03, Diogen (Krassina Krasteva) 56.43.
FEI Balkan Dressage Junior Team Championship: GOLD - Waterloo (Karla Nahmiyas) TUR 74.58; SILVER - Koliante (Fotini-Nepheli Georgitsou) 71.38; BRONZE - Risander (Rotem Ibrahimzade) TUR 66.88.
FEI Balkan Dressage Children’s Team Championship: GOLD - Bulgaria 196.724: Venus (Zdravko Trenev) 64.931, Sekreto (Boris Raychev) 64.724, Don Carlos (Liubomir Ivanov) 64.793, Gigantik (Iva Todorova) 67.00; SILVER - Turkey 189.344: Nick (Lara Turnay) 59.103, Primadonna (Neslihan Esen) 63.448, Chiara (Selen Skalin) 65.793, Adamo (Semih Sarimehmetoglu) 60.103; BRONZE - Szeplak Donci (Jovan Grujic) 53.759, Galja (Nikoleta Zidisic) 56.931, Ferdynand (Anja Markovic) 54.379, Quincon Z (Sara Poparic) 63.138.
FEI Balkan Dressage Children’s Individual Championship: GOLD - Nocsley (Melina Zografou-Alexiou) GRE 74.54; SILVER - Gigantik (Iva Todorova) BUL 69.00; BRONZE - Nonchaloir (Lydia-Evdokia Anesti) GRE 65.61.