It was a familiar victory Sunday in Falsterbo (SWE) for Denmark, who brought the 2023 FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ season to a close with an impressive victory over the home nation.
The victory marked the second straight in Falsterbo for the Danish, who were also Nations Cup victors at CDIO5* Compiègne (FRA) in May and runners-up at CDIO5* Aachen (GER) this season. The four-rider squad of Daniel Bachmann Andersen (Zippo M.I.), Anna Zibrandtsen (Quel Filou), Nadja Aaboe Sloth (Favour Gersdorf), and Anne Marie Hosbond (Scarlett 712) finished the CDIO4* FEI Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special, and Grand Prix Freestyle tests on a winning total of 22 points. Sweden finished second with 31 points, followed by the Netherlands (43 points).
Team classification was determined by adding up points for the three best results per team in the Grand Prix and across the Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle, with points equating to finish positions in the tests. The winning team recorded the lowest point total.
Both Bachmann Andersen and Sloth were part of last year’s winning team and returned to Falsterbo with the same mounts from that performance. Their experience showed as they delivered under pressure, with Bachmann Andersen performing best for his team in the Grand Prix, finishing third, and Sloth putting forth Denmark’s best result in the Freestyle, checking in fourth.
But it was the Special that proved to be Denmark’s best test, with Zibrandtsen and Bachmann Andersen riding to personal bests aboard Quel Filou (75.787%) and Zippo M.I. (75.128%), respectively, to take the top two placings. Bachmann Andersen had twice the responsibility, also serving as the squad’s chef d’equipe.
“I think we have performed really, really well and also [had] very solid performances in the Grand Prix, where we laid the foundation for this great result,” said Bachmann Andersen.
After a brief respite from competition to focus on training, 11-year-old Zippo M.I. has come out stronger, finishing on the podium in each of his tests.
“He was doing World Cups and I was thinking, ‘Okay, we’ll give him a little break from the shows to try to make some of the things better and stronger, give him some more self-confidence.’ And that really worked out,” Bachmann Andersen said. “He’s been coming out even stronger and even better in his piaffes. That was not his strength. I feel like we are working closer together, and he’s starting to be an established Grand Prix horse at the top level.”
Bachmann Andersen and Zibrandtsen were never separated by more than one position on the leaderboard. For Zibrandtsen, her performance was especially meaningful given it was her horse’s Nations Cup debut. The pair debuted internationally just one year ago, at Falsterbo in the CDI3* division.
“When we did the halt [in the Special, Quel Filou] was like, ‘I want to go forward. Why are we standing here?’ He’s just fighting for it and fighting for us… I was just smiling all the way. I was so happy,” said Zibrandtsen.
Sweden certainly made its rally, with Patrik Kittel securing wins in both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle. But it was depth that kept Denmark on top.
“The Danish team is strong, not just [with us] here, but also [with] all the other riders competing for the team of Denmark,” Bachmann Andersen said. “In Aachen, we were very strong as well. I think we just have a really, really good foundation of good horses, good training, good riders, good teamwork, and we support each other.”
Falsterbo’s top two finishers were among the top three in the final FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ standings for 2023. But it was fourth-place finishers Germany who secured the overall series title, with wins at CDIO3* Wellington (USA), CDIO3* Budapest (HUN), and CDIO5* Aachen (GER).
“Aachen is our second selection [event] for the European Championships, so we had our four top riders on the team, but apart from that, we went with younger riders,” said Johnny Hilberath, Germany’s chef d’equipe. “It started in [Wellington] in early spring and went until here [in Falsterbo]. To win the series is not bad, I think!”
Germany finished the season with 46 points, followed by Denmark (40 points). Sweden finished the season in third with 35 points.
“We take the Nations Cup series very seriously,” Hilberath added. “It’s an honor to represent our country, so we try to bring to all events a team.”
by Catie Staszak