Isabell Werth and her number one ride Weihegold coasted to victory in the Grand Prix at the 2018 CDI-W Amsterdam on Friday afternoon 26 January 2018. In a strong field of 17 competitors, Werth produced a safe round with a major error, that still earned her an easy 80.217%, placing first far ahead of the competition.
Judged by Mariette Sanders (NED), Andrew Gardner (GBR), Isabelle Judet (FRA), Adriaan Hamoen (NED) and Maria Colliander (FIN), the Amsterdam Grand Prix was the first high profile international competition of the new year. Both Germany and home country The Netherlands sent some of their strongest pairs. Werth and the judges immediately showed that 2018 has not yet brought about much change in the world of dressage.
The World Number One rode Christine Arns-Krogman's 13-year old Oldenburg mare Weihegol (by Don Schufro x Sandro Hit) with flair and energy, meticulously calculating every step and stride. The black looked fit and fresh, but Isabell was not pulling out the stops. The halt at entry put scores on the board between 6.5 and 9. The trot lengthenings were all mediocre with a flat frontleg and a minimum of overtrack, even though Werth rode them with much control and precision. There was good crossing of the legs in the half passes, but in the one to the left the mare opened her mouth and bared her teeth. Weihegold had good overtrack in the extended walk, but the clarity of rhythm is not the prettiest. The same happened in the collected walk. However, the passage of this mare is out of this world: such bounce, elegance, and rhythm! The transitions to and from piaffe are impeccable, even though in piaffe there was a bit of backward tendency in the first one and the second could have been more off the forehand. The canter work was safely ridden with a correct, but not so elastic zig zag, quite short two tempi changes that appeared laboured (still scored 7s and 8s). The line with one tempi's completely went wrong at the start as well as at the end (scored straight 4s). Werth recovered in the pirouettes and the final piaffe-passage line was excellent. Her marks ranged from 78.261% to 82.391%.
"I am really happy with this mare," said Werth. "She was 'on' but really in a good mind. She was super to ride."
German Helen Langehanenberg and Louise Leatherdale's 16-year old Hanoverian stallion Damsey FRH (by Dressage Royal x Ritual) were able to continue their strong streak from a double win at the national show in Munster two weeks ago to a second place in a big international field in Amsterdam. Helen rode the trot extensions full throttle. The extended walk was very well ridden, the collected a bit short but regular. Damsey has a beautiful, energetic passage but all the piaffe work travelled too much forward and the second piaffe was too early on the marker, despite the good rhythm. The zig zag was correct but could have been more ground covering, just like the one tempi changes. The pirouettes were nice and small with good elevation in the forehand. Damsey was not running out of steam and the final piaffe-passage centerline was active and engaged. They scored 76.939% for second place.
Swedish Patrik Kittel and Marie Haward's 14-year old Swedish warmblood mare Deja (by Silvano x Don Schufro) landed third place. The elegant bay mare was excellent in the trot extensions, showed balanced half passes, but the rein back could have been smoother. There was loss of steam in the exit of the first piaffe and the two other piaffes were ridden much too early from the marker. The extended canter was lovely, but there was a mistake in the single tempi changes. They scored 74.304%.
Edward Gal and Gaston Glock's 10-year old Danish warmblood stallion Zonik (by Zack x Romanov) were the best placed Dutch pair in the class with their fourth position. The muscled black stallion has much scope in his gaits. His trot extensions are expressive and ground covering, just like the half passes. The stallion dragged his feet in the rein back though. In passage Zonik has good bounce off the ground, but the piaffe is tight and the horse pulls the hocks high and out with backward tendency instead of taking weight on the hindlegs. The rider supported the horse much with his aids in the two tempi changes but Zonik has nice uphill jump in the flying changes. On the final centerline the stallion lost impulsion in the last stretch of passage. The pair finished on 74.283%
German Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Beatrice Burchler-Keller's 17-year old Dutch warmblood stallion Unee BB (by Gribaldi x Dageraad) completed the top five. The seasoned stallion was a bit inconsistent in the bridle contact especially at the end of the ride and he backstepped in the piaffe at X, but the canter work was smooth with especially expressive tempi changes.
Britain's best performing duo was Emile Faurie on Elena Knyaginicheva's 14-year old Hanoverian licensed stallion Delatio (by De Niro x Rubinstein). The black is very convincing with his powerful passage and solid piaffe work, but the stallion tends to get too passagey in the collected trot work and then loses some elasticity in the trot half passes even though they have improved since their last ride at the London World Cup qualifier, where they finished second. The stallion scores very consistent marks in his canter work with especially the tempi changes as highlight. In Amsterdam they ranked sixth with 73.609%.
Emmelie Scholtens and the 13-year old KWPN stallion Apache (by UB40 x Krack C) made their come back after a seven month show break. The trot extensions were big, but the frame should have opened more. The trot half passes lacked some bending. The passage was incredibly lightfooted and beautifully regular. In piaffe the horse lacks confidence and balance. Especially the canter work was the strong point of the ride, all movements executed with much ease. They finished seventh with 73.196%