Isabell Werth Closes European League with a Win

Sun, 03/22/2009 - 00:00
2009 CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch

A completely sold out house of 9.500 at the´s-Hertogenbosch Horse show Indoor Brabant boasted the strongest field of competitors one can imagine. Six Olympic combinations assembled for the final Western European League qualifier. Silver medallist Isabell Werth and Satchmo took the win (84,15%).

 Fifteen competitors from seven nations competed including Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Finland and the United States of America. The judges were chair Francis Verbeek (NED), Katrina Wüst (GER), Stephen Clarke (GBR), Isabell Judet (FRA) and Eric Lette (SWE). 

For individual gold medallist Anky van Grunsven it was the first time to compete after the Olympics in Hong Kong. Olympic silver medallist Isabell Werth already had built up her show routine again and this payed off in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Satchmo had to leave the Grand Prix victory to Anky van Grunsven and Salinero. In Grand Prix last Thursday Satchmo didn’t go to his full potential and stayed a bit on the safe side.

Today he was the first of the big gladiators to go into the Freestyle. Not a single moment did he leave his rider Isabell Werth on herself, being cooperative all the time. The piaffe, although without resistance, is not his best point and could have been as expressive as the extended gaits and half passes . The total image was one of harmony and that’s what dressage is all about.

Isabell Werth was very happy with her horse, the great Dutch audience, and the show which seems to improve yearly in every small detail. “Of course I didn’t expect to win today”, she said. “However I always try and hope and Satchmo is very good in shape. He gave me a fantastic ride and I’m really proud of him.”

Anky finished third after a test with one huge mistake. Salinero mistook her aids for a pirouette and fell into trot, doing a piaffe pirouette. “I had to bring Salinero back to the canter and perform the pirouette again. As I was totally at the wrong side of the arena I decided to do a half pass instead and suddenly found myself back on track for another pirouette right at the music”, Anky explained. “I cannot expect to win without showing routine and I’m proud Salinero is as relaxed as he is now. He definitely needed this long break and so did I. There is no big riding challenge left after a second Olympic medal.”

Dutch champion Adelinde Cornelissen took her chance at her premiere with a completely new Freestyle.  Parzival performed to the opera music of Wagner's Parzival. “The story is quite remarkable and fitting! Parzival was a knight that had to go through a lot of challenges to become a king in the end. I like that”, Adelinde said. The problems of the qualifier in Amsterdam in which Parzival spooked were quickly forgotten and didn’t even qualify for the Freestyle. Now he simply did one tempi changes and two tempi changes on the centreline without failures or resistance. The advice was to enlarge the difficulty level and change the music. I’m happy it worked out so well”, Adelinde said. Not all judges agreed and they varied their placing between first and fourth position. In the end however, Adelinde and Parzival were the runner up.

German Monica Theodorescu had a great ride on Michael Jackson music scoring almost an 80% as well. For Dutch Olympian Hans Peter Minderhoud and the elegant mare Nadine the score of 79,20% was a personal record. Both have now qualified for the Final in Las Vegas.

Finnish Kyrklund and Max, having been placed third in the Final of last year, now became sixth with their new Freestyle but her competing in three qualifiers didn’t earn enough points to make it to the Final. Laura Bechtolsheimer refrained from competing in Göteborg due to family obligations. Now she didn’t make it to the Final either. Anky van Grunsven withdrew from competing in Göteborg as serious back problems left her home.

The problem for Anky now seems to be the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Regulations that states that last year’s winner is automatically qualified when having shown in two qualifiers. Anky’s husband and trainer Sjef Janssen shot himself in the foot six years ago, having been one of the persons to stipulate the rule.

Tomorrow  the complete list of qualified participants will be made known, including the appointment of Wild Cards. It will be the last decision made by FEI director dressage Eva Salomon as she will be leaving the FEI Bureau. Anky van Grunsven is qualified with Painted Black. A wild card will do title defender Anky van Grunsven and Salinero no good as the same rules of two qualifiers apply.

Photos copyrighted: Astrid Appels/Eurodressage

- FEI Press Release, edited for publication by Eurodressage

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