At the penultimate Western European League world cup qualifier in Gothenburg, Sweden, Danish Cathrine Dufour proved that she will make 2018 a bit harder for Isabell Werth to wield her axe of power. Aboard the 15-year old Atterupgaards Cassidy, Dufour won the Grand Prix with 80.764%, beating Werth on her second Grand Prix horse Emilio who became the runners-up with 79.717%.
Dufour, who is aiming for a World Cup Wild card as she did not compete at sufficient qualifiers for a top spot in the league ranking, has always showed Cassidy at a very select number event to preserve energy and health. Her battle tactics have always paid off and it was no different in Gothenburg.
In the Grand Prix she rode very nice trot extensions with the horse textbook up in the poll and nose out.. The half passes were consistent but the rein back were short steps. The passage is very bouncy, but there is a lot of lateral swing in the fore- and hindquarters instead of proper back usage with a an engaged topline and hindlegs truly reaching under the body. The collected walk got short and a bit tense. The piaffe has improved much with more secure elevation in the steps. The two tempi changes and extended canter were outstanding and the ones and zig zag accurately ridden. The pirouettes were small, but do not have so much scope in front. Cassidy got a tiny bit restless in the mouth on the final centerline, but the contact was always light and soft. It was a beautiful ride for a well earned 80.674%.
Isabell Werth could not close the deal for victory in Gothenburg like last year, because her 12-year old Emilio (by Ehrenpreis x Cacir AA) decided to cheekily shake his head in the one tempi changes and with his sense for play missed a change. The bay gelding showed very nice trot extensions, flowing half passes, but he did not stand squarely in the rein back and the steps could have been smoother. The passage was springy; but in the first piaffe he toppled down with the head and leant much on the forehand, despite rhythmical steps and smooth transitions. The second and third piaffe Werth had going better. The majority of the canter work was strong with a gutsy extended canter and solid two tempi changes. They finished second on 79.717%.
The judging panel included Annette Fransén Iacobaeus (SWE), Francis Verbeek (NED), Peter Holler (GER), Magnus Ringmark (SWE), and Hans-Christian Matthiesen (DEN) and the fivesome seemed to have been playing a major tug-of-war with their scores on the top two ranked riders! Dufour placed first with four out of five judges and her marks ranged from 78.152 (Holler) to 82.500% (Fransen). Isabell Werth's scores were all over the place! Verbeek had her on 75.870% while Holler saw no less than 84.348% in that ride.
Homeside hero Patrik Kittel and the Oatley family's 12-year old Oldenburg gelding Delaunay (by Dr. Doorlittle x Feinbrand) slotted in third with 75.413%. Kittel produced a very secure ride that looked quite effortless. There were smooth trot extension and half passes, but in the rein back the five steps should have been more articulated. In the first passage the horse was a bit unsteady in the head position and in piaffe he got wide behind but the side silhouette was nice. In the second piaffe Delaunay lost a bit of forward tendency, and the piaffe at x was the best one. The hrose showed a good, active extended walk. In the canter work there was much swing in the hindquarters to the left in the two tempi changes, but the ones were straighter yet fairly downhill. Also the extended canter should have been more uphill oriented, but there was good lengthening of stride and frame. In the final passage Delaunay lost the hindlegs a bit. Overall itwas a very consistent ride, even though one likes to see a bit more slack in the curb rein.
Germany's Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and the Swiss owned 17-year old Dutch stallion Unee BB (by Gribaldi x Dageraad) landed fourth place. They are a very sympathetic pair but today lacked a bit of fine tuning for higher scores. None of the halts were square and at the beginning there should have been more bending in the corners. The half passes were nice, but the reinback was not as smooth. The first extension was lovely, the second needed to be more ground covering. Unee was hesitant in the rhythm in first piaffe, the second was better despite a correction forward. The passage work was bouncy but one likes to see the hind legs move more under the body. There was nice relaxation in the extended walk, but Unee crept a bit behind the vertical in the two tempi changes. The ones were straight but one change was short behind. In the onset of both pirouettes Unee swung away from the centerline, yet the horse has good lift in the forehand. Werndl rode the piaffe at X very early the marker but the final passage was better engaged. They scored 74.087%.
by Astrid Appels - Photo © Digishots