A Blind Date, a Surprise and a Comeback Kid in the 2013 CDI Bremen Grand Prix

Sun, 03/03/2013 - 21:19
Victoria Max-Theurer and Blind Date at the 2013 CDI Bremen
Photo © LL-foto.de
2013 CDI Bremen

After the most dark and dreary winter ever in Germany the sun found its way back on the weekend of 2 - 3 March 2013 and people enjoyed its return in street cafés, parks and any place al fresco, to restock their empty vitamin D depots. However, not everywhere in Germany because in the old hanse town of Bremen 24 horse and rider-combinations from ten nations presented themselves in front of interested spectators who preferred high class Grand Prix dressage at the traditional euroclassics show to the spring outside.

This event was the last chance to qualify for the Meggle Champions final to be held in a week at the 2913 CDI Dortmund. Starting at 8.00 o' clock on Saturday morning, the Grand Prix class presented a few well-known horses, but also relative newcomers of which some surprised.

Not a big surprise was the clear and convincing victory of Austria's equestrian super-star Victoria Max-Theurer who had her first show on the Hanoverian mare Blind Date since the CDI Salzburg. She said afterwards that she is very happy with the development of the horse. Though by having a glance at the starters' list their win might not be a big surprise, the way they did was. This compact liver chestnut, who is a typical offspring by Breitling W (out of a mare by Donnerhall x Pik Bube I) has made a step forward over winter and appears more mature and stronger than ever, resulting in according collected work.

The 11-year-old was trained by the Wittigs and is very successfully presented by Victoria since 2012. Both started their ride with a well regulated first extended trot in which the horse showed the desired lengthening of the frame, but the observer was left with the feeling there is still more in the tank. After dynamic trot half passes and a textbook halt before the rein-back, Blind Date did not keep an entirely even rhythm in the next trot extension. The first piaffe-passage-work has improved to last year's appearances. In particular the piaffe is diligent and active, although one could not miss that the rider has to work to keep this activity. The extended walk was relaxed and diligent with sufficient stretching. In the second piaffe the mare again stayed nicely in place proving her balance in this movement, but she became a bit wider behind than in the first one. The canter tour turned out to be the true highlight of the ride. Blind Date executed wonderful flying changes, above all the 2-times: Even, forward and at the same time uphill. In the extended canter the risk was very controlled, rather like a medium canter, but the canter again was so uphill and energetic and the mare showed an exemplary frame. In the one-time-changes the Donnerhall-grand-daughter began wonderfully, but became a bit short behind to the end. The canter pirouettes were both good and in nice rhythm, making one wonder why the last one was marked between 7 and 9. The last extended trot lacked risk. The final centre line was very expressive and the mare still had enough power. Finishing with a very square and quiet halt, Blind Date and Victoria Max-Theurer not only executed the winning ride, but also dominated with intrinsic eagerness and joy in a horse presented on a fine contact with the curb rein almost sagging.

More than three percent behind came the surprise of the day, Danish Maria Anita Andersen riding Blue Horse stud's Oldenburg mare Loxana H. The 11-year-old won the 2005 Oldenburg Elite Mare Show and last month in Verden the mare booked the Grand Prix Kur victory at a national show. The big framed mare has a meaningful pedigree and descends from proven dressage blood-lines,  sired by Diamond Hit out of an Argentinus mare. The first thing catching the eye was the horse's supple and relaxed way of moving, which unfortunately did not hinder her to became a bit hasty in the forehand action during the pair's first trot extension. Both trot half passes were in a nice rhythm and with enough impulsion. In the second extension there was a slight break in rhythm, the mare being very zestful. Loxana's passage and piaffe were executed without tension, but the dark bay mare needs to become stronger behind to carry more weight and thereby free the shoulders, so the movements could become more impressive. In the extended walk, which was scored from 6 to 8 by the five judges, Loxana stretched from the beginning and showed sufficient over-track whereas the collected walk appeared a bit free. A true highlight of their ride were the powerful flying changes, the 2-times being even better, resulting in 8 and 8,5s. Regrettably the extended canter was ridden in a medium tempo. Andersen lost points in the second pirouette when her convincing mare became temporarily hot resulting in a break in rhythm. It seems like Denmark has another valuable addition to their already strong pool of international dressage riders with this young blonde who placed highly on a different horse at the 2012 national championships. It will be interesting to watch the young pair's further progress in the course of the upcoming season.

Many a dressage insider rubbed his eyes when the third placed combination in the Bremen Grand Prix entered the indoor arena. Much noticed at the 2009 European Dressage Championships after which he disappeared from the circuit due to injury, the Hanoverian bred Don Charly has enthused many with tremendous presence and beauty. Swedish Minna Telde acquired the now 16-year-old licensed stallion in 2009 with the London Olympics in mind, but the horse injured himself before the World Cup final in Las Vegas 2010 and was permanently out of action. At Bremen Don Charly made his comeback and proved that he has neither lost his fascination nor his abilities. The Don Gregory x Inschallah AA offspring is a very imposing and a pronounced stallion. He made full use of his expression during the Grand Prix. Although he showed a very impressive front-leg action when he crossed the diagonal in his first trot extension, the overtrack could have been more. The trot half passes were fluent with good bending, but the stallion's rather heavy neck dropped down a bit. The second extension could have shown more energy from behind. Also the regular passage lacked some power from behind so the horse would step more under the centre of gravity. The first piaffe was regular with enough steps. The extended trot was very relaxed and the stallion stretched in copybook style forwards-downwards. Don Charly, who is nick-named Dino, showed another actively executed piaffe, but he could carry more weight on his hind legs. Unfortunately he made a mistake in the two-time-changes and came a bit on the hand in the zig zag. The one-time-changes were courageously ridden forwards and without mishaps. The horse executed his best passage on the final centre-line, carrying himself very nicely. The popular partnership lost valuable points when there was a misunderstanding in the transition to the final piaffe.

With 70.128% Minna Telde finished a respectable third, but it was probably much more important that her beloved horse has shown his fitness and well-being at the international stage. After such a long, unintended break a feat in itself. It cannot be left unsaid that this result was based on the individual placings 1, 2, 5 and 15 with scores veering from 66.064% to 73.192% (!!), so the judges were obviously not quite in unison about the stallion's comeback appearance.

Ingrid Klimke was the celebrity at the CDN Münster a month earlier but at Bremen the double Olympic eventing champion didn't show her rising Grand Prix star Dresden Mann, but her more matured and experienced Hanoverian Liostro. The rather small and very compact chestnut with the big white nose came to Klimke more than a year ago as a ready-made Grand Prix-horse. Both soon clicked and finished their first season together with a second place in the 2012 Louisdor Cup Final at Frankfurt. Though Klimke and the Le Primeur gelding were able to celebrate consistent success throughout 2012, the horse's potential does not seem to be exhausted yet and some improvement in the self-carriage and contact could be detected. The first extended trot was regular with good extension of the frame, but slightly hasty. Lio as he is called isn't a horse with the most spectacular trot, so he tries to make up for it with his eagerness. As one of very few horses the 11-year-old chestnut really carried himself in the trot half-passes and proved that the neck can actually stay up in this lateral movement! The rein-back was quite correct. In the second trot extension Liostro showed the maximum of impulsion, but had a slight break in rhythm towards the end of the diagonal. The piaffe and passage work was solid with the horse chewing contently and remaining in self-carriage. In the passage Liostro moves regular, but is lacking a bit of expression and activity from behind. The same can be said of the piaffe, though the horse really tries and remains calm. It took rather long for the horse to stretch in the extended walk, but he stayed relaxed. The flying changes were faultless and very secure. It was a pity that the horse flounced a bit in the first pirouette but the second was significantly better. On the final centre line Liostro showed his best passage with a more cadenced float and obviously enjoying himself. Again the judging panel could not really come to terms with Martin Richenhagen putting the pair second (73.298%) and Gustav Svalling seventh (67.660 %). 70.043% meant a 4th place in the end. Not a bad placing, but the horse can certainly do better. More surprising were the marks for Ingrid Klimke's position which can be described as almost immaculate, always clinging to the movements of the horse. Why three judges only awarded her seat a 7 or 7,5, is their secret.

At first glance one could get the impression The Netherland's top dressage horse Parzival had entered into arena, but it turned out to be Stephanie Peters' look-alike Unlimited (by Jazz). The chestnut gelding not only looks but also moves a bit similar to his bigger framed colleague. The way this leggy horse moved and presented the Grand Prix-movements was apparently difficult to judge. The judges could not disagree more than with this pair scoring it between 66.064% and 72.660%. In a high elevation and with a very pronounced high knee action the smaller version of Parzival created an energetic first extended trot which looked almost spectacular, but lacked sufficient over-track and lengthening of the frame. The trot half passes were regular, but needed more bending. In the passage the horse should carry more weight behind and swing more through the whole body. The 12-year-old KWPN gelding stayed in place in a regular piaffe, but with no visible lowering of the croup. In the extended walk Unlimited immediately stretched forwards-downwards and walked in a relaxed way. The horse was very nicely brought back to the collected walk before transitioning into passage. In the second piaffe the chestnut again stayed in place, but became wide behind. Both tempi change diagonals were faultless and with even strides; still the horse did not change the frame and came in front of the vertical. The pirouettes were both quite settled, but not centered enough to score higher. Peters lost points and probably even a higher placing when on the final centre-line her horse did not stay on the spot in the piaffe and after being corrected had to find its rhythm again. The Dutch rider got a total of 69.809%.

Former German team member Christoph Koschel rode his mother's Rostropowitsch and stayed closely on Peters' heels with 69.553%. Named after a famous cellist, Rostropowitsch suggests something different as the horse is not bred in Russia, but in Westfalia. „Rosty“ is now 11 and no unknown to the German dressage scene. Already in 2007 the licensed stallion by Rockwell x Coriograf B had been reserve Bundeschampion of the 5-year-old dressage horses before he was sold to Switzerland where Christoph's father Jürgen discovered the horse in 2009 and brought him back to Germany. After the sale of his best horse Donnperignon the bay stallion has moved in the no.1-position at Koschel's stable and Christoph focused himself on the Westfalian throughout the 2012 season. In Bremen one could see that the horse has gained strength and is now able to show an even better and more consistent self-carriage. It already showed in the first trot extension. The horse was very active from behind and showed exemplary impulsion, producing lots of expression. Unfortunately in the second extension Rostropowitsch had a small break in the rhythm. The passage as such is quite good, but the suspended phase should be more accentuated. The extended walk was not too big, but relaxed and with a stretched topline. In the first two piaffes the horse was very active and tried hard, but could have stayed better in place, especially in the second one. Rostropowitsch stayed faultless in the two-time-changes, though leaned on the hand at the end. Koschel rode a very good extended canter and unlike others, rode it till the end, but the horse changed a bit early. In the one-time-changes the harmony was disturbed a bit as the horse got tense and stopped changing for a few strides. The tension was still with him in the pirouettes with the stallion becoming a bit strong. The first was not much settled, the second better. The harmony returned for the final line in front of the judge at C and Rostropowitsch showed the best passage of his ride and really started floating.  The piaffe was also very active in a nice silhouette, although the stallion travelled forward a bit.

Brigitte Wittig placed one of her own breeding products not far behind Koschel Aboard the 10-year old Hanoverian Balmoral W (by Breitling W x Diego xx) Wittig has already been successful at the Bundeschampionate and placed highly at international small tour level. He debuted successfully at Grand Prix last year.
The Japanese owned horse started with a regular first extended trot without risking a lot.
In the first passage, which in general is quite expressive, there were a few uneven steps behind. The piaffe is already fairly in place, though the horse needs to carry even more weight with the hind-legs. The flying changes are wonderful because Balmoral W executed them very uphill and extremely supple, earning him justified marks from 8 and 8,5 from the judges' panel. In the one-times the horse was a bit tight at the beginning and regrettably began with two-times before he switched to the required one-times which, again, were straight and supple.
The Hanoverian showed that he still had power left when he showed a good last passage and piaffe. The passage was very regular and it is impressive how Balmoral W is able to pull the foreleg smoothly into the horizontal. They got 69.234%.

Norwegian Cathrine Rasmussen was the last of the eight placed pairs in the Bremen Grand Prix. Aboard Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin's first Grand Prix horse Fernandez (by Florestan I  x Weinberg) which Rasmussen acquired in 2012, Cathrine has become one of her country's most consistent Grand Prix-riders. She clicked quickly with the bright chestnut and was able to produce some good results their first year together though a minor injury meddled a bit with their progression. In Bremen the gelding showed very active hind-legs in the extended trots, but not enough lengthening of the frame. The extended walk is quite short and the horse needed some time to stretch. In the piaffes Fernandez knows the job and stays in place, but needs to carry more weight behind. The clear highlights of Rasmussen's ride were the flying changes which were both good with the rider sitting quietly and giving the aids very discreetly, something which cannot be said about every rider!
Pity that there was a clear break in rhythm in the passage a few moments before the final halt. Rasmussen and Fernandez got 68.787%.

The field in Bremen saw some old acquaintances in the ranking. Sweden's Patrik Kittel saddled Laura Bechtolsheimer's 13-year-old Swedish bred gelding Tellwell which he had presented successfully at international small tour level a few years ago before the bay sold to the Bechtolsheimer family. Now back at Kittel to be sold, Tellwell finished 9th. The beautiful black Oldenburg mare Noble Dream, which once won a bronze medal with Jessica Michel at the World Young Horse Championships in  Verden a few years ago, slotted in 10th under Marc Boblet.

Text by Silke Rottermann - Photos © LL-foto.de

Related Link
Scores 2013 CDI Bremen

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