Grandioso III and Daniel Martin Dockx 2014 Champions of Spain06.15.2014
For the second time in their career, Grandioso and Daniel Martin Dockx have taken the National Title for Dressage in Spain. It’s been three years since the last time they’ve attended the National Championships for Dressage-- when they won the title in 2011, not long after Grandioso returned to Spain to be trained by Dani. This year, the Championship was required for all pairs aspiring for the Spanish Team for the World Equestrian Games, and the competition level was very high.
As there was no clear favorite going into the show, the final results were a toss-up, only to be determined in the end by the sum of scores over three days. Everyone knew from the start that it would be a horse race between Dani with Grandioso, and his good friend Jose Mena with Norte, who has been enjoying a second career with Norte since his return last year to the show ring after a long period off. In the end, it was Dani and Grandioso that garnered slightly more points to win the Championship, but that’s not the whole story...
In the Grand Prix, Grandioso was the clear favorite, topping the class with 73.9 and far in front of the other competitors. Dani rode a clean test with the expression, power, and confidence of a seasoned pair at this level.
The Grand Prix Special was more of a challenge. Dani and Grandioso have only performed this test once before, in Herning last summer for the European Championships. (Prior to that, the Olympic GP Special was the official test.) Dani was very pleased with Grandioso who navigated the test with ease, with the exception of one miscommunication between horse and rider in which the horse cantered just before the trot half-pass. The score reflected their good ride—73.725—but was not enough to overtake last year's Champions, Jose and Norte, who dominated with a stronger, more confident ride, earning a spectacular 75.08%.
In Spain, all three tests have equal weight toward the final point tally (unlike the US, where the Freestyle counts for only 15% of the overall totals), so the scores on the last day, and not necessarily the placement, would determine the outcome of the weekend. Jose and Norte had the ride of their career and posted a high score of 77.464. Dani and Grandioso, however, have achieved higher scores regularly in the international shows outside of Spain and so went into the Kur with confidence of a win. But it wasn’t their day. Grandioso was a little too fresh, cantering twice in the trot tour--errors that were very costly, and the pair took home the lowest score they’ve ever had with this Freestyle—75.179. A disappointing way to finish a weekend of top riding, but all part of the game.
In the end, Dani and Grandioso’s totals edged out Jose and Norte by .05%--the strength of their Grand Prix carrying them to overall victory for the Championship. Jose and Norte took the Silver, with Morgan Barnbancon and her warmblood mare Vitana taking home the Bronze. Jose, displaying the very best of Spanish sportsmanship and graciousness, was the first to congratulate Dani and both friends rode the victory lap with smiles.
Looking back on the weekend, one can only say that Spain has 2 National Champions this year—both high-level Spanish-bred PREs, ridden by riders who exemplify the top-quality horsemanship that Spain produces, with scores that will make them highly competitive on the world stage. Now that this is behind them, all of the Spanish riders and horses can focus on working together to represent Spain in the World Championship, coming up in two months.
The next challenge for Dani and Jose is Aachen in July, one step further on the road to Normandy!
Our thanks to the photographers: Ecuestreonline.com, TopIberian.com, Celeste Ribo