What a sensational Grand Prix Special. Anyone who said that dressage is boring stands corrected here in Aachen. Top riders making mistakes, horses freaking out in the ring, and quality finally surfacing to the top.
The complete board got reshuffled today and, to say the least, it's been incredibly exciting and shocking at the shocking at the same time!
Swedish Jan Brink soared to the top of the leader board after a mistake free ride aboard his Swedish warmblood stallion Bjorsells Briar.
The extended trots could have been more engaged, but the piaffe passage tour was delightful. He scored 76.400% and that proved to be the winning score as the last rider to go, Anky van Grunsven, could not settle down her Hanoverian gelding Salinero who bolted into the ring doing single changes on the center line before doing a piaffe-halt.
Anky kept her cool and showed her mastership at making the best out of it, but Salinero was just overcooked. She tried to temper him by slowing down the piaffe, which looked good, but the passage became a piaffe barely moving forward. After the pi-pa serpentine, Salinero seemed calmer, but the transition to canter with a small jump in the air proved that the tension was still there and it stayed there in the canter tour. Definitely an off-day for the Dutch combination, who was in the lead after the Grand Prix. Anky scored 70.960% and placed thirteenth in the Special.
Jan Brink was of course ecstatic with his first victory at such an international caliber show as the CDIO Aachen. "It's nice to win, he went very well" Brink explained. "especially because I felt the horse was on the aids and taking me forwards. We made no mistakes and there lots of power and no tension."
Iklé and Salieri CH Recognized
Tension free rides were rewarded today in the Special, even though the judges' panel for this CDIO has been remarkably unsynchronised.
Swiss Silvia Ikle ranked second with her Salieri CH (by Sinclair). Their forte is the piaffe and passage which is loose, relaxed, harmonious and expressive. Ikle has the reins in a very light contact with the bit and can do loosen the contact without losing rhythm or power in the gaits. Iklé has been upward bound with her cool Salieri this 2005 show season, but her quality rides finally got rewarded here in Aachen. They scored 75.400%.
Edward Gal and Lingh (by Flemmingh x Columbus) finished in third position. Lingh was much more on the job today than in the Grand Prix, even though Edward constantly had to motivate him with his leg to keep the bay stallion energetically forward. The combination showed outstanding half passes and a lovely end piaffe - passage on the center line. They scored 74.960%.
Steffen Peters Amongst the World's Best
American Steffen Peters continued to be the best performing American dressage rider in the CDIO Grand Prix Special, being the only American to enter the Main Stadium for the awards ceremony after the Grand Prix Special. Aboard Laurie and Stephen Browning's Westfalian gelding Floriano (by Florestan), he scored 73.840% and placed sixth. Peters rode as if he had nothing to lose and Floriano responded really well to his rider's boldness and courage. There were no mistakes in the test, the half passes were lovely as well as the flying changes.
Leslie Morse and her KWPN stallion Kingston (by Voltaire) placed 12th with 71.760% which was a major improvement to the Grand Prix. Kingston was more on the ball, showed a controled piaffe and passage in harmony with her ride. The tempi changes were ground covering, but the bay stallion did get a bit tight in the neck.
Morse was very pleased with her Special. "He felt really good and was super in the warm up. There is so much extended trot and passage in this test, so he felt tired at the end and he lacked a bit of steam, but I was really pleased with him." The Beverly Hills based Morse will be riding her Pirates of the Carribean freestyle tomorrow. "I rode the new one in Hagen, but the judges told me they liked the old one better, so we are going back to it. I will warm him up less for the kur to save enegery. I need more horse," she added.
Also appearing in the freestyle tomorrow are George Williams and Rocher. They just made the cut by finishing 15th in the Special with 70.680%. The extended trots were super and the half passes in canter were of high standard. "I'm very happy with her. There were several aspects that I liked better today, like the pirouettes and the canter half passes. A couple of times she was too low, but her carriage is improving."
Guenter Seidel and Aragon did not have the great ride they hoped for. The Bavarian gelding changed on the center line upon entering and there were errors in the one and two tempi changes. The piaffe and passage were delightfully rhythmical and the horse was alert and willing throughout the test.
"There were just too many mistakes," a disappointed Seidel said. "He warmed up great but he was tight going into the ring. It just didn't flow." Seidel and Aragon have been having a challenging year with fluctuating performances in Europe and the States. "You just go through it sometimes. I'm trying just as hard. We'll try for the World Equestrian Games next year and see if he settles in and gets more consistent by then."
Text and Photo by Astrid Appels
This article has been exclusively written for Horsesdaily.com
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