Sprehe Sets in 'Back to the Eighties' Trend in 2012 CDIO Aachen Grand Prix Special
The 25-year old German Kristina Sprehe booked a second victory at the 2012 CDIO Aachen by winning the Olympic Grand Prix Special on Saturday afternoon 7 July 2012. In contrast with the Grand Prix, the Aachen Olympic GP Special was a high level class in which the 80% barrier was cracked twice. Several more horses produced top class performances or showed the potential that heralds a Back to the Eighties fest coming up in London!
Kristina Sprehe's Desperados and Helen Langehanenberg's Damon Hill scored over 80%. It was especially heart-warming to see Damon Hill make a fantastic comeback after a Grand Prix test with several beauty flaws. The surprize ride of the day, however, came from Dorothee Schneider on Diva Royal. The combination finished fourth with 77.378% but their test could easily have earned them 80% and put them somewhere in the top three. Furthermore horses such as Dablino and Delgado also belong to the same eighties club if their riders had not been responsible for the string of mistakes they made.
The main spotlight in Aachen remained to be on Kristina Sprehe and her glorious black stallion Desperados (by De Niro x Wolkenstein II). The horse is an absolute pleasure to watch and brims with talent. He produced big trot extensions, ground covering half passes and smooth transitions to and from the collected movements. The horse stays nicely at the vertical and Sprehe held a more steady contact with the bit today. The extended walk was a highlight and could have scored more than the 8.2 average. The tempi changes were straight and ground covering. Unfortunately Desperados has one major flaw at the moment which needs tweaking. The horse is persistently uneven in passage, with more left hindleg activity than right. Sometimes the stallion drags his right toe in the bends. This unevenness also showed in the half pass to the left, despite its ground cover and the horse's beautiful expression and silhouette.
Sprehe rode much more meticulously in the Special compared to her Grand Prix which explains the higher score. With 81,000 % the shooting star won the class. The panel of judges, which consisted of Eisenhardt, Roudier, Clarke, Alonso, and Ernes, were not in unison on her performance with marks ranging from 77.444% (Ernes) to 85.444% (Roudier). The 81.00% end result was fairly generous considering what Sprehe's competitors showed in the arena and her horse's recurrent irregularities.
Helen Langehanenberg made a remarkable recovery after the bobbles she had in the piaffe and passage work in their Grand Prix. The elegant rider was very concentrated and bolstered her horse's sparkling energy well. The Westfalian stallion (by Donnerhall x Rubinstein) was full of forward impulsion in the trot work. He showed a super extended walk and an exemplary transition from collected walk to piaffe. Damon Hill executed fantastic piaffe-passage in which the horse kept the rhythm well, but one exit was a bit difficult.The two tempi's were lovely, the ones could have been more uphill. The pirouettes were good.
Langehanenberg scored 80.622% to finish second but she could also have been the winner. Furthermore, there was still room for improvement as Damon Hill has not yet reached a peak, like he did at the 2012 World Cup Finals in April. The combination can score even higher if the horse stays slightly more up in the bridle. Because Langehanenberg focused on a flawless ride, the horse did occasionally get behind the vertical which affected the points. The judges were on the same wavelength with their scores.
Austrian Victoria Max-Theurer recaptured the third place on her Oldenburg stallion Augustin OLD. The August der Starke x Rohdiamant is a chunky bay, graced with the beauty of the Rohdiamant line but with the show jumping outline of his grandsire Argentinus. The horse does not have the most freedom in the shoulder, which is obvious in the one tempi's and extended walk, but he makes up for that with incredible sit in piaffe. Augustin showed lots of power and suspension in the trot extensions and passage. A few passage steps could improve in regularity. The flying changes were correct, the pirouettes strong and small and the extended canter explosive. Their 77.600% score, which placed them third, was well earned.
For sure underscored and underappreciated was Dorothee Schneider's absolutely impeccable ride on Stella Charlott Roth's Hanoverian mare Diva Royal (by Don Frederico x Warkant). Producing one of the most appealing tests of the day, Schneider also received the most cheering from the crowds.
The first part of her test was smooth, flowing, clean, expressive. The extended walk followed by the piaffe and passage were all executed to perfection. The two tempi's were big, the ones lovely, the canter half passes forward. Overall there was very little to remark to that test. Maybe the extended canter could have shown more uphill tendency but that's about it and the head could have been slightly more steady, but the sturdy looking black mare was always light in the bridle and totally obedient. The pair got 77.378% from the judges.
Danish Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and her home bred Danish gelding Digby (by Donnerhall x Sandro) completed the top five, dominated by four Donnerhall offsprings! As last rider to go Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein demonstrated why she has been a force to reckon with for years. Her obedient Digby is totally confident in every single Grand Prix movement. He does not abound in expression in the trot work but makes up for that with his clockwork piaffe and passage. The tempi changes were solid, the extended canter displayed exemplary lengthening of the strides, the pirouettes were tiny. The German based duo scored 76.622%.
So why weren't Delgado and Dablino in the top five? Both De Niro look-alikes were willing to work for their riders, but Beatriz Ferrer-Salat lost some concentration in canter and Anabel Balkenhol made mistakes. Delgado (by De Niro x Weltmeyer) totally belongs to the world's elite but so far the pieces have not yet come together. The trot movements are all engaged and off the ground, the piaffe and passage are elegant and bouncy, the extended walk has ample ground cover, the transitions were smooth. Spanish Ferrer-Salat, however, positioned the horse badly for the two tempi's and made mistakes. The one tempi's on the centerline were hairy. Beatriz ended up with 75.067% to rank 8th.
Anabel Balkenhol and Dablino started off well with super trot extensions, despite a mistake in the rhythm, and half passes. The piaffe and passage were smooth and the tempi changes outstanding. In the extended walk the horse got tense but still had two hooves overtrack. In the pirouette left there was a loss of balance and at the end of the diagonal of the extended canter the horse made an unscripted change behind. This string of small imperfections kept them at 73.978% to finish 10th. Balkenhol's score was still higher than the 73.867% with which Isabell Werth and Don Johnson won the CDI Grand Prix Special on Friday evening.
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - No Reproduction Allowed