Balkan Dressage Championship got back to Istanbul, since the last time held in 2011. Host in 2015, NF Turkey Kemer golf and Equestrian Club was a good host to all participants. Lot of effort they put to attract as much as possible athletes from Balkan region, by providing respectful amount of prize money for Junior and Senior Team and Individual competitions. Also providing accommodation and meals to all participants, which is not very usual when Balkan NF’s are hosts to Balkan Championship.
Since FEI GA when it has been determent place of Balkan Dressage Championship 2015, there were many optimistic words, but reality was a bit different.
All investment and hard preparations didn’t bring more than four nations – Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Turkey. Bulgarians saw their chance and they came with teams in all three categories, children, junior, senior, as well as Turks. Unfortunately, Romania came only with one fragile children team, and Moldova presented senior rider, Tatiana Antonenco based in Kemer club.
It is not very often that Balkan Games passes without Greeks who has been winning majority of medals in past decades. Economic crises reflected on participation of all athletes, so none of them arrived to Istanbul. It reflected on number of starters, but more on quality of Championship, since previous years their teams were very dominant with respectful quality of horses and riders.
Another nonappearance came from athletes of NF Serbia, who had teams in all categories (children, junior, senior) in 2014, and taking part on Balkan Dressage Championships since 2012 in Athens. Serbian Junior Balkan Champion in 2014, Bojana Stojanov didn’t come to defend her valuable victory from Novi Sad, since then she competed on CDI’s in Lipica, Brno and European Championship in Vidauban, France.
Maybe the biggest surprise was no entry of Lina Uzunhasan based in Holland, most successful rider from this region. Since her first appearance on Balkan Dressage Championship in 2011 in Istanbul on children level, when she won Team Gold and Individual silver, she made remarkable junior results on international level in Holland, France and 31st place on latest European Championship in Vidauban.
Missing all athletes who took part in past few years’ quality of whole competition is under question, but not an honest and good intentions of the host NF, club and all people involved in whole event.
Nevertheless, show must go on… So, Turkish Children Team won GOLD led by Yagmur Ozturk, Debora Debi Haviyo, Irem Kaplan and Siraz Baybutluoglu, SILVER for Bulgarian Elina Ivanova, Olivia Petrova, Alexandra Pencheva and Nur Sharaf, BRONZE for Romanian Darius Comanescu, Alexandru Gita and Sandra Takacs.
Junior Balkan Champion and GOLD medalists is Bulgarian Katerina Tsvetanova and Preslav. She won all three tests in three days and was the only one qualified for Freestyle. Very attractive music synchronized with all transitions in the test brought her big applause and support.
Senior GOLD medalists and Balkan Champion is Bulgarian Raiko Ganukov and Ambrozia who was also winner in all small tour tests. Unlike his national team member Tsvetanova, he was not alone in Freestyle since five riders made over 60% in Inter I, what is new minimum for Freestyle in Balkan Dressage Rules. Biggest support by all spectator had Turkish SILVER medalist Semih Ersoy with Clockwork who made fantastic work after 4th places in St. George and Intermediate I. BRONZE medalist is Moldovian Tatiana Antonenco and Polygraf who were just a few points ahead of Stephanie Gatcheva and For Ever.