EEF Press Release
Greece and Romania share all the gold at EEF Balkan Dressage Championships in Bulgaria
by Louise Parkes
It was a two-way split between Greece and Romania when both countries scooped three titles each at the EEF Balkan Dressage Championships 2018 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria last weekend. The three-day fixture, presented by the Bulgarian Equestrian Federation and staged at the spectacular Plovdiv showgrounds, saw Greece reign supreme in both Senior categories and also taking the Children’s Individual title, while Romanian youngsters claimed double-gold in the Junior division along with Children’s Team gold.
Mirroring the phenomenon seen at the Balkan Driving Championships a week earlier, the emergence of exciting young talent was a feature of every level of competition. And it was a joyous event, with a great sense of camaraderie between the competitors representing the four competing nations of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey.
With the top two scores in the Prix St George, Angela Sklavounos (Quanderas) and Stelios Stavroulakis (Baiao) helped secure Team gold for Greece in the Senior category. Both Sklavounos, who went on to also take individual glory, and team-mate Evangelia Koupenou (Huligan) are only 26 years of age, while 39-year-old Antonia Tsamandoura (Hope for the Future) rounded up the Greek effort. Sklavanounos and 41-year-old Stavroulakis are Balkan Championships veterans with multiple appearances.
Sklavounos took double-gold in her first year at Senior level at the Championships in Yagodova (BUL) in 2013, and she repeated that this time around when posting the gold-medal-winning score of 71.68 in the Intermediate 1 Freestyle. This left her more than five marks ahead of Krassina Krusteva (Cerano) who was a member of the silver-medal-winning Bulgarian team along with Mirela Raikova (Brooklyn), Liuba Kenarova (Haga) and Rijko Ganukov (Ambrozia). Romania’s Monica Selina Alexandrescu claimed individual bronze, and her country’s performance was impressive when the three-member side that also included Cristina Isabela Nadasan (Feivel) and Maria Bogoescu (Con Palermo) were only beaten for team silver by less than two marks.
It was also double-gold for Romania’s Dara Maria Palicuic in the Junior division. The 18-year-old athlete steered her horse, Z.O.Z., to the highest score of 65.939 in the Team competition and when her compatriots, 15-year-old Zoe Ionescu (Conte) and 16-year-old Iulia Caba (Capable) posted marks of 59.273 and 58.636 respectively the Romanian total of 183.848 left them more than two marks clear of the Greek silver medallists and more than seven marks ahead of Bulgaria in bronze.
The Greek side also had only three team members - Eirini Dimitrijevic (Escordio), Natalia Fragiadaki (Desteny) and Rafailia Georgoulea (Cassian 006) - and therefore no drop-score. However Bulgaria fielded a team of four - Magdalena Ivanova (Trim), Irina Nikolova (Aezden Dajd), Stephan Kaikov (Silver Boy) and Elena Vasileva (Silver Boy).
Paliciuc and her 14-year-old bay mare ZOZ were clear winners of the Junior Freestyle for individual gold on a mark of 68.86, and it was a very satisfying result for the 18-year-old athlete who finished fourth, so just off the podium, at last summer’s Balkan Championships in Zagreb (CRO).
Georgoulea and Fragiadaki took individual silver and bronze for Greece, and it was an emotional moment for 16-year-old Georgoulea who was riding Cassian for the very last time before the bay mare goes into retirement. “I have enjoyed so many unforgettable experiences with her, and for me tthis Balkan Dressage Championship means a great deal because it is my last international show with my 19-year-old horse. I wouldn’t have wanted her last competition to be any other way!” said the young rider who finished seventh individually last year in Zagreb. Clutching the silver medal she earned this time around, Georgoulea added that these Championships were not just about a podium-placing for her - “I have also made friendships that I hope will last a lifetime through this competition!” she said, echoing the feelings of many of the other young athletes who also enjoyed sharing time with their fellow-competitors.
And the Children’s Team title also went to Romania when 12-year-old Catinca Vasiliu (Sandra Hit), 13-year-old Ruxandra ursache (Sans Souci D) and 14-year-old Isabela Zaman (Csillogo) joined forces to post a team score of 192.73 for victory.
Bulgaria’s Lyubomir Yankov (Valesco T), Lidiya Mandadzhieva (Lamantika), Ava Hristozova (Kalahary) and Ivet Georgieva (Cristiano) took silver medal spot on 182.77 and the three-member team of Sofia Nikolaidi Theodosiou (Gordi), Isampella Atsalaki (Spoekedammetje’s Nikos) and Alexandros Katsikis (Dangast) claimed bronze for Greece on a team tally of 179.308. Team Turkey’s Nisa Yaman (Aachen Mouche), Irmak Mermer (El Bandido) and Arda Yaman (Dagestan) finished fourth with a final scoreline of 152.654.
Romania’s Isabella Zaman posted the highest score of 66.577 in the Team competition but the 14-year-old rider had to settle for bronze in the Individual Championship where Greek contenders Alexandros Katsikis and Isampella Atsalaki, both aged just 12, took gold and silver. And the joy on the face of Children’s champion Katsikis, who never stopped smiling throughout his entire test and who hugged his lovely 10-year-old palomino gelding Dangast with delight after he finished his winning test, said everything there was to say about these 2018 Balkan Championships.
Photo caption: A happy hug for his pony Dangast from Greek 12-year-old, Alexandros Katsikis, who claimed Children’s Individual gold and Team Bronze at the Balkan Dressage Championships 2018 in Plovdiv (BUL) last weekend. (Photobit/Mariana Gkliati)
Balkan Dressage Senior Team Championship 2018: Gold - Greece 197.323: Huligan (Evangelia Koupenou) 60.647, Hope for the Future (Antonia Tsamandoura) 62.147, Baiao (Stellos Stavroulakis) 66.382, Quanderas (Angela Sklavounos) 68.794; Silver - Bulgaria 186.235: Brooklyn (Mirela Raikova) 57.5, Haga (Liuba Kenarova) 59.971, Ambrozia (Rajko Ganukov) 60.529, Cerano (Krassina Krasteva) 65.735; Bronze - Romania 184.97: Feivel (Cristina Isabela Nadasan) 59.353, Con Palermo (Maria Bogescu) 60.676, Don’t Worry (Monica Selina Alexandrescu) 64.941.
Balkan Dressage Individual Championship 2018: Gold - Quanderas (Angela Sklavounos) GRE 71.68; Silver - Cerano (Krassina Krusteva) BUL 66.55; Bronze - Don’t Worry (Monica Selina Alexandrescu) ROM 64.74.
Balkan Dressage Children’s Team Championship 2018: Gold - Romania 192.73: Csillogo (Isabla Zaman) 66.577, San Souci D (Ruxandra Ursache) 63.538, Sandra Hit (Caninca Valiliu) 62.615; Silver - Bulgaria 182.77 - Valesco T (Lyubomir Yankov) 59.808, Lamantika (Lidiya Mandadzhieva) 61.077, Kalahary (Ava Hristozova) 56.038, Cristiano (Ivet Georgieva) 61.885; Bronze - Greece 179.308: Gordi (Sofia Nikolaidi Theodosiou) GRE 60.038, Spoekdammetje’s Nikos (Isambella Atsalaki) 57.385, Dangast (Alexandros Katsikis) 61.885.
Balkan Dressage Children’s Individual Championship 2018: Gold - Dangast (Alexandros Katsikis) GRE 62.393; Silver - Spoekkkekkdammetje’s Nikos (Isampella Atsalaki) GRE 61.286; Bronze - Csillogo (Isabela Zaman) ROM 60.393.
Balkan Dressage Junior Team Championship 2018: Gold - Romania 183.848: Capable (Iulia Caba) 58.636, Conte (Zoe Ionescu) 59.273, ZOZ (Daria Maria Paliciuc) 65.939; Silver - Greece 181.485: (Eirini Dimitrijevic) 59.273, Desteny (Natalia Fragiadaki) 62.151, Cassian 006 (Rafailia Georgoulea) 60.061; Bronze - Bulgaria 176.152: Trim (Magdalena Ivanova) 58.758, Zvezden Dajd (Irina Nikolova) 49.91, Silver Boy (Stephan Kaikov) 57.636, Silver Boy (Elena Vasileva) 59.758.
Balkan Dressage Junior Individual Championship 2018: Gold - ZOZ (Daira Maria Paliciuc) ROM 68.86; Silver - Cassian 006 (Rafailia (Georgoulea) GRE 66.56; Bronze - Desteny (Natalia Fragiadaki) GRE 65.87.