It was hot at Aachen today, very hot. The first heat wave of the year has arrived in Western Europe and fortunately it will only last till Friday. The weather forecast has predicted cooler temperatures on Saturday with the thermometer dropping from 30°C to 25°C. I love the heat but hate being hot, so I decided to wear flip flops. I was probably the only one on the show grounds as I saw everyone wearing summer loafers instead but at least I felt comfortable the entire day. With Mary Phelps and JJ Hathaway of Dressagedaily.com as my guest, we were very much looking forward to Aachen this year and the highlight of the show is the head-to-head between Steffen Peters and Anky van Grunsven. The second duel since the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong.
Prix St Georges
The 2009 CDIO Aachen kicked off with the Prix St Georges which was won by Brigitte Wittig on Christian Heinrich's Hanoverian mare Blind Date (by Breitling x Donnerhall). This chunky liver chestnut mare scored 73.474% for a virtually faultfree ride. Her strong point were the fantastic, ground covering flying changes. The mare was expressive especially in the canter. The trot was ridden quite conservatively but the movements were executed correctly. She could have had more crossing of her legs in the half passes, especially the right one.
Hans Peter Minderhoud and Team Nijhof's Westfalian licensed stallion Florencio (by Florestan) were strong contenders for the trophy. The dark bay stallion, who was the double World Young Horse Champion, was phenomenal in trot. Super smooth, light in the hand, energetic and forward. The canter pirouettes had improved tremendously since their last performance in Rotterdam but the flying changes could have been straighter in the body as "Floris" tends to swing the hind quarters from left to right while changing. The duo deservedly placed second with 72.105 %
In 2007, Matthias Alexander Rath had won the Intermediaire I at Aachen. This year he campaigned the Hanoverian bred Weltmeyer offspring again in the small tour to take third place in the Prix St Georges posting a score of 71.789%. Rath showed Weltmeyer Junior in a flowing trot which could have been a bit more electric. The gelding was always soft in the hand and excelled in the left canter pirouette and in the collected walk, in which he kept a clear rhythm.
German Hendrik Lochthowe showed Harli Seifert's Oldenburg licensed stallion Rubin Cortes (by Rubin Royal x Calmiro) to a fifth place. The duo is trained in Switzerland by Silvia Ikle and shows much promise due to the horse's high quality basic gaits.
Danish Andreas Helgstrand on Berit Nielsen's Danish bred medal winning mare Polka Hit Nexen (by Sandro Hit x Tempelwind xx). There is so much in store for this combination but they are still not tuned into each other and Polka Hit looks green at PSG.
Helen Langehanenberg rides quite a few horses for Austrian Dressage Task Force Member Sissy Max-Theurer. One of them is the Bundeschampion Furst Khevenhuller (by Florestan). Super soft in the hand at all times, though very playful with his bit, Furst Khevenhuller had a super trot tour but made a mistake in the tempi's every three strides.
The nations' cup Grand Prix in Aachen has been split into two groups. Group one was to go today and none of the riders were able to stay faultfree. The best scoring pair was Heike Kemmer on Betina Fink's Hanoverian gelding Bonaparte (by Bon Bonaparte). Kemmer started her test with super extended trots and half passes, but the rein back was a bit hesitant. The piaffe and passage were all smooth with Bonaparte piaffing well on the spot this time. A big mistake in the one tempi's and a short pirouette right made the score drop considerably. They won the test with 70.723%.
Andreas Helgstrand and Mr Vagner's Holsteiner stallion Tannenhof's Carabas (by Carnaby) placed third. The judges were not unanimous about the Dane's ride as Gribbons scored it a 66.596% and Lette a 72.766%. The stallion has a phenomenal passage and piaffe, but he fails to keep the rhythm mainly in the piaffe and the transitions to passage. The dark bay stallion has a super trot with phenomenal extensions, but he was rushed through the corners in the collected trot in order not to loose his expression. Carabas regularly has his mouth wide open in the movements despite the fact that he shows world class potential in the execution of many of them. The highlight of the test was the zig zag. Helgstrand's total score was 69.064%.
Dutch Marlies van Baalen on her mother's Dutch bred Ojay (by Jazz). They finished fourth with 68.426% but got 64.894% from Judet and 71.702% from Lette. Yowsa! The powerful black gelding can be very strong for Marlies but today she had him attentive to the aids and responsive.
Fiona Bigwood and Wie Atlantico getting acquainted to each other at the shows. The horse knows all the Grand Prix movements but seems to lack some show routine under Bigwood. They are definitely a pair to watch in the future. A mistake in the two tempi's pushed their score down today: 65.872% and an 8th place.
38-year old Dutchman Sander Marijnissen and Moedwill (by Goodwill) made their debut on the Dutch team two weeks ago at the CDIO Rotterdam. They were also selected for Aachen and finished ninth with 65.702%.
The big disturbing scoop of the day in Aachen was the fact that the Rhinelander youth team was asked not to wear its official outfit!! The youth riders who fetch finished protocols from the judges' cabins, collect manure from the arena and help out on the show grounds in general are the Jugend Team (JuTe) Rheinland and their clothes are sponsored by Isabell Werth. Their rain coats state "Powered by Isabell Werth". Apparently to sources VERY close to Werth, the Aachen organization kindly asked the Rhinelander youth team not to wear an outfit which has Isabell Werth's name embroidered on. OF COURSE they protested and refused this request. The Rhinelander youth team will be wearing their Isabell Werth jackets if they see fit! Good job girls!
All photos copyrighted Astrid Appels
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