Dujardin and Valegro Take 2012 CDI Hagen Grand Prix for Special by Storm
British European team gold medallist Charotte Dujardin and the 10-year old Dutch warmblood gelding Valegro (by Negro x Gershwin) took the Grand Prix Special at the 2012 CDI Hagen by storm. In a field of 23 competitors with a majority of German A-team riders battling it out, Dujardin reeled in an easy victory on a whopping 81.426% score. More excitingly there was still room for improvement!
Dujardin competed Valegro for the second time in 2012, making her debut of the year at the World Dressage Masters in Florida in January. Today confronted with her big adversaries on European soil, Charlotte firmly stood her ground, showing off the supreme qualities of Carl Hester and Roly Luard's Valegro. The horse was stronger in the bridle than usual, but Charlotte piloted him round the arena with much energy and expression. The trot extensions were world class, despite a break into canter in the second one. The half passes were big, the extended walk was lovely in rhythm and ground cover. The two tempi changes were huge, the zig zag well ridden and the one tempi's were phenomenal. The pirouettes showed great collection but could have been smaller. The passage was very elegant but at times the hind legs were not enough under the body and in piaffe he travelled forward slightly. Especially in the first piaffe he could have been slightly quicker from behind. The second piaffe and passage were wonderful. With a bit more polishing up to do, this pair could easily score 83 up to 85% for an immaculate ride!
Isabell Werth and her choice for the 2012 Olympic Games, Don Johnson (by Don Frederico x Warkant), finished second with 76.511%, a fairly generous score for a ride in which the rough edges still needed smoothing out. In the first extended trot the horse only truly started to lengthen after X, but the half passes were superb. The extended walk was ok, the collected good. The two tempi's were nice, in the ones he lacked ground cover and forwardness. The pirouettes were well ridden. In passage Don Johnson has very nice elevation but he hollows his back and all piaffes were slightly forward and croup high though the rhythm was good. Throughout the test Don Johnson was never truly accepting the bit. Werth was constantly moving the bit in her horse's mouth -- of course in a very delicate way --- but it showed that Don Johnson was restless in the mouth, regularly tilting his head or moving its position at the vertical. The judges were quite unanimous about Werth's test with scores ranging between 75 and 77%.
Anabel Balkenhol and the delightful Hanoverian gelding Dablino (by De Niro x Wanderbusch II) made their CDI come back after a 10 month period in which Dablino recovered from an injury sustained at the CDIO Aachen July 2011. Known for always riding on the safe side, Balkenhol obviously went for a clear, conservative test which Dablino lived up to. The trot extensions were absolutely wonderful, the rein back good, the half passes large in cross over. The passage work was always regular, flowing and with much suspension. In the first piaffe Dablino was slightly insecure and hesitant in finding the rhythm. The extended walk showed good relaxation and overstep though the rhythm could still be purer. The second piaffe was better but quite forward. Balkenhol seemed to have miscounted herself in the two tempi's as that was the biggest mistake in the test, but the ones were very nice. The pirouettes were lovely on the spot. If Anabel is able to improve the piaffe and ride with a bit more guts Dablino will easily score in the high seventies up to 80%. Today the pair received 75.404% with room for growth.
The 22-year old Danish Anna Kasprzak made her international debut aboard Christoph Koschel' former WEG and European Championship ride Donnperignon (by Donnerhall x Mozart II). The sympathetic blond rider, who was a kur bronze medallist at the 2010 European Young Riders Championships, has made a unique partnership with the talented liver chestnut gelding. The combination is marked by a unique harmony and seems tuned into one another. The trot work was solid with big traversal movements and good extensions, though the horse could have been more steady at the vertical. The passage work was superb with a quicker hind leg coming off the ground and reaching under the body. The piaffes were still modest, but in a much clearer rhythm than before as the rider sits undisturbingly in the saddle. The tempi's were great, the pirouettes top class. Only on the final centerline the transition to the piaffe at X lacked fluency. Their score of 75.149% was well earned.
British Laura Bechtolsheimer and her second Grand Prix horse Andretti, a 17-year old Hanoverian gelding by Aarking xx x Cavalier, slotted in fifth with a score of 74.085%. The bubbly and energetic bay gelding is a very hard worker in the arena and sometimes gets too eager. There was a loss of rhythm in the first extension, but the passage was elastic and well suspended. The first piaffe was a bit hesitant but in the second the horse found its stride and moved like clockwork. The extended walk was ground covering and over the back though Andretti became a bit unsteady with the head. The zig zag could have ridden slightly more accurately as there was much counter bend before the changes. The one tempi's were lovely. The pirouette to the left should have turned more round the rider's leg, the right one was better. Andretti finished the test with a beautiful passage but slightly crooked end halt.
Text by Astrid Appels - Photos © Selene Scarsi / NO reproduction Allowed!
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2012 CDI Hagen