A Perfect Start to the Finals for Adelinde Cornelissen
-- FEI Press Release
Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival made the perfect start to the 2009-2010 World Cup Dressage final at the Brabanthallen in s'Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands tonight when winning the Grand Prix by a convincing margin of more than two percent.
On a tense evening when nerves were jangling, she held her big strong gelding together to produce a powerful test that left her with a clear advantage over the firm favourites to take the title - Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas. And the Dutch totally dominated the line-up in this preliminary competition when Imke Schellekens-Bartels and her lovely mare Hunter Douglas Sunrise claimed third place.
It looks like a Dutch are destined to win next Saturday's final test, the Freestyle to Music, but whether Cornelissen and Parzival can rise to the occasion again as they did tonight or whether Gal and the record-breaking Totilas can re-find their true form and outdo all the rest remains to be seen. If tonight's result is anything to go by then Saturday's finale is going to be a very close-fought affair.
It was Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and the light-footed Favourit who held the lead at the halfway stage, and in this 10 year old gelding the veteran Swedish Olympian seems to have found a promising replacement for her great old campaigner Solos Carex who was retired in Gothenburg last month.
Her mark of 69.23% was quickly bettered by Germany's Matthias Alexander Rath and Triviant however who were first to go after the break and moved the target score to 70.42% with their level and accurate performance.
Denmark's Nathalie zu Sayn Wittgenstein then raised the standard further when earning 71.19% wth Digby whose good passage, piaffe, canter zig-zag and square halt ensured a strong score and the Danish Princess, who is competing at her final event as she is expecting her first baby to arrive in July, was glowing with satisfaction as she left the arena.
Despite an expressive test from Le Bo, Carola Koppelmann could only manage a mark of 68.63% having made a couple of mistakes, but fellow-German rider Isabell Werth steered the 14 year old Warum Nicht to a mark of 73.277% to raise the bar even higher.
Schellekens-Bartel's mare however was in the form of her life as she danced her way to a score of 74.89% in a test that was so pleasing to the eye and full of grace and elegance, and Sunrise might almost have had a smile on her face as she happily left the arena knowing she had done a very good job indeed. This partnership finished second in the World Cup Final in Las Vegas two years ago and will be ones to watch in next Saturday's Freestyle finale.
Gal and Moorlands Totilas however did not sparkle in their usual way, the weight of expectation perhaps feeling very heavy indeed after their record-breaking run over the past 12 months. They have come to s'Hertogenbosch in the knowledge that every time they go into the arena they are expected to produce even more magic than the time before, but tonight Gal appeared to have a battle on his hands as the stallion exploded into canter and never fully settled to his task. However in passage and piaffe this horse is near perfection, even on an "off-day" like today, and his energy and elevation will always earn him a good score. Tonight that score of 76.80% temporarily took the lead, but it would not be enough to take the win.
There was great flow to the work produced by Sweden's Patrik Kittel and Watermill Scandic for a mark of 72.08%, but this would only be good enough to secure fifth place in the final analysis.
Last to go in front of the home crowd was Cornelissen whose chestnut gelding can sometimes be so ring-shy that he cannot give of his best. But tonight she held him together with courage, and his confidence seemed to grow all the greater as his huge movement, excellent piaffe and lovely active half-passes clocked up the good scores all the way through. "Her horse was a little tense, but Adelinde had him on the bit to avoid mistakes and she managed very well. It was a great result" said dressage judge Wim Ernes.
THE BIG QUESTIONS
The big questions now are - can Adelinde come out next Saturday and do the same again, inspiring the lovely Parzival to produce the Freestyle she knows he can do, or will Imke ride an even smoother performance with her spring-heeled mare and steal the limelight? Or can Edward Gal and Totilas lose the tension and show the class that has made them the most exciting and sought-after dressage partnership in the history of the sport? Perhaps Totilas was not so keen on his rider's new brightly-coloured jacket which seemed designed to break yet another mould in this normally demure sport tonight. But then Gal and Totilas have been smashing all previous standards for the last year with their breath-taking performances - it seems unlikely that they are ready to toe the line just yet...
-- FEI Press Release
Photos © Astrid Appels/Eurodressage.com