Double Gold for Greece and Turkey, but Romanio’s Alexandrescu Secures Senior Title
Turkish riders claimed team and individual gold in the Children’s division while Greece dominated both the Junior and Young Rider Individual finals at the recent FEI Balkan Dressage Championships, Romania took the Senior title when Selina Alexandrescu and Merkur Siker Casino reigned supreme.
This year the fixture returned to Istanbul in Turkey where the very first Balkan Championships took place in 1968. The 2011 venue was the Istanbul Equestrian Club at Maslak, and riders from four countries – Greece, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria – participated at the event.
Only one team championship took place, and it was the Turkish foursome of Lina Uzunhasan (Sjonnie), Ekin Karahan (Adamo), Ella Irene Gurso (Zinnia) and Karla Yona Nahmias (Ubaldi) who clinched the gold in a two-way contest with their neighbours from Greece. It was a close-fought affair however, with just over three marks separating the two sides at the end of the competition in which the test produced by Turkey’s Nahmias and Ubaldi proved pivotal. The scores from judges Alla Soubbotina, Irmeli Summanen, Bo Jena, Maja Stukelj and Victoire Mandl gave Nahmias a mark of 71.483 which tipped the odds in favour of the Turkish side.
Nahmias had to settle for runner-up spot in the Preliminary Competition in which team-mate Lina Uzunhasan and Sjonnie came out on top. But in the Individual Final the situation was reversed, with Uzunhasan taking silver with a score of 67.321 while Nahmias, now really into her stride, registered 72.036 to top the medal podium. Bronze went to Kyveli Tzortzaki (Ombox Yamma Yamma Man), who, together with Vasiliki Valtairou (Chiron), Konstantina Katsiti (Gelo Notturon) and Isabella-Nina Ravini (Guinness) was a member of the silver-medal-winning Greek team.
All riders completed a team test to become eligible for the individual finals, and just two of the five Juniors qualified for their medal-deciding Freestyle. Both were from Greece, and they stayed in the same order – Fanoula (Fani) Stafilopati and Cassian finishing with a two-mark advantage to take gold ahead of Fotini-Nefeli Georgitsou and Koliante. This was another important step in the career of Stafilopati who took both team and individual gold in the Children’s division of the FEI Balkan Dressage Championships staged at Katerini in Greece last year. And Georgitsou, bronze medallist in the 2010 Children’s Championship, has clearly also made the step-up in class.
For the first time in the history of the FEI Balkan Dressage Championships a Young Riders section was introduced, and the competition here was keen. Turkey’s Zeynep Ulgezen and Lancelot produced the best result in the team test in which Ioulia-Kyriaki Koudini and Donnergroll were runners-up ahead of Greek counterparts Alexandra Alexopoulou and Marco Polo. But Alexopoulou got her nose out in front in the following individual qualifier, pinning Ulgezen back into second spot, and in the Freestyle final Alexopoulou and Marco Polo really rose to the challenge once more to produce a score of 68.700 that left them clear champions ahead of the silver medal winning Turkish partnership while Koudini claimed individual bronze.
HARDLY ANY DOUBT
There was hardly any doubt about the destination of the Senior Individual title, with Romania’s Sellina Alexandrescu and Merkur Siker Casino setting out their stall with victory in the team test ahead of Turkey’s Osman Hazinerdaroglu and Clockwork who also lined up behind them in the individual qualifier. But Bulgaria’s Veselina Sokolova and Neptun were only fractionally behind on both occasions, and when it came to the final Freestyle the Bulgarian duo edged the Turkish partnership down to bronze medal position and snatched the silver as Alexandrescu and Merkur Siker Casino stepped out in style once again for gold.
Children’s Team Championship: Gold – Turkey 199.621; Sjonnie (Lina Uzunhasan) 66.034, Adamo (Ekin Karahan) 60.725, Zinnia (Ella Irene Gurso) 62.103, Ubaldi (Karla Yona Nahmias) 71.483; Silver – Greece 196.379; Chiron (Vasiliki Valtairou) 66.276, Gelo Notturon (Konstantina Katsiti) 64.103, Ombox Yamma Yamma Man (Kyveli Tzortzaki) 66.000, Guinness (Isabella-Nina Ravini) 62.310.
Chidren’s Individual Championship: Gold – Ubaldi (Karla Yona Nahmias) TUR 72.036; Silver – Sjonnie (Lina Uzunhasan) TUR 67.321; Bronze – Ombox Yamma Yamma Man (Kyveli Tzortzaki) GRE 66.929.
Junior Individual Championship – Gold – Cassian (Fanoula Stafilopati) GRE 67.975; Silver – Koliante (Fotini-Nefeli Georgitsou) GRE 65.900.
Young Rider Individual Championship – Gold – Marco Polo (Alexandra Alexopoulou) GRE 68.700; Silver – Lancelot (Ulgezen Zeynep) TUR 65.675; Bronze – Donnergroll (Ioulia-Kyriaki Koudouni) GRE 63.150.
Senior Individual Championship – Gold – Merkur Siker Casino (Selina Alexandrescu) ROU 63.725; Silver – Neptun (Velelina Sokolova) BUL 58.425; Bronze – Clockwork (Osman K. Hazinerdaroglu) TUR 55.675.
by Louise Parkes