Holland's number one Grand Prix rider Adelinde Cornelissen has broken the spell of misfortune and is back on top of the world winning her first global championship, the 2011 World Cup Finals. Scoring 84.804% in the freestyle at the Finals hosted at the Messe center in Leipzig, Germany, Cornelissen and her 14-year old Dutch warmblood gelding Parzival (by Jazz x Ulft) fulfilled all expectations and claiming her six victory this World Cup season.
Riding to music of the Nutcracker and Swan Lake, Cornelissen left no doubt that she was going for the beautiful silver World Cup trophy on which the names of previous winners of the past -- the greatest riders in history -- are engraved. The first piaffe was on the spot, the second super in rhythm but slightly crooked to the right. The trot work flowed and stood out by its elasticity and activity. The extended walk had plenty of overtrack, but the nose could have been slightly more out. The tempi changes are Parzival's signature movements. The two's were superb, but a mistake crept into the ones. Adelinde was on the dot when she rode the extended canter into a pirouette right on the music. The ending with the fanning piaffe pirouette was cute but missed a bit of finish as the chestnut gelding lost the rhythm before the halt. Nonetheless, the test was outstanding and the Grand Prix work confident. Hopefully her next challenge will be improving the contact with the bit even further. At several occasions the rider held her hands quite high and could have had less pressure on the bit, especially in the trotwork, even though Parzival was foaming better than usual.
Cornelissen scored 84.304, not her record mark, but all judges placed her first unanimously. There were, however, quite a few disparaties between the judges' marks. Markowski gave them a generous average of 88% while Truppa kept the mark at 82,875%. The others verged in between those scores.
Adelinde was on top of the world and bagged her first global championship title after having won the Grand Prix Special gold at the continental 2009 European Championships. To her Parzival's star performance was a culmination of her training the past season. "I liked the entire indoor season," she said. "I had so much control. He’s more relaxed, more fluent. I have been working at that all those years. It’s nice to finally have that (control) and don’t have to bother about flowers, tables." She feels that her horse is focusing more on her instead of his surroundings. "He starts liking being in the ring," she said. "Before he used to be a bit scared and afraid of all the people there. Now he just comes in, he hears the audience and thinks “that’s cool”."
While the control was there in the test, Parzival was disorderly during the prize giving as he refused to do a victory lap and ran straight into the photographers on the sideline. "I haven’t taken him in prize givings often," she explained. "This is why. He’s not only hurting himself but he also runs into photographers. It's not just for Parzival but also for other people.
With her World Cup title, Cornelissen finally seemed to have broken the spell of misfortunes that happened to her the past three years: she was reserve for the Olympics in Hong Kong, her horse got injured at the 2009 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, and they got disqualified at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky after her horse bit his tongue and had blood running from his mouth. "Everyvbody keeps reminding me of Kentucky, Las Vegas, Hong Kong. I started to forget about it, but everyone keeps reminding me," she joked. "This is where I am at and I’m very happy with him. This doesn’t make up for the disappointment of Kentucky. It belongs to sports; the ups and downs."
When asked if she, as new Dutch number one, felt the absence of Totilas on the Dutch team she admitted "if somebody is better than you it gets you to a higher level. It makes you work harder, train harder to get better. I miss him"
The Fairytale Continues: Zu-Saeyn-Wittgenstein Runner Up
The fairytale story befitting a Danish Princess continued in the Kur to Music finals. Her Royal Highness Princess Nathalie Zu Saeyn-Wittgenstein of Denmark finished second in the Grand Prix, exceeding all expectations, including her own. Aboard her home bred Danish warmblood gelding Digby (by Donnerhall x Sandro) she maintained that position in the finals with an 80.036% score and became the runner up in the 2011 World Cup.
Riding her 'old' but beautifully arranged West Side Story freestyle, Zu Saeyn-Wittgenstein accentuated the fortés of her horse: the piaffe and passage. The dark bay gelding was slightly sensitive to the right spur aid and swooshed his tail in the trot half passes and tempi changes, but he executed all the movements with the greatest accuracy. The one tempi's were dead straight the exented walk had three hooves overtrack, the collected walk was pure in rhythm, the contact with the bit was subtle and the head was fixed at the vertical. The transition from canter to trot at the end of the test was hesitant, but that was just a minor blotch in an otherwise clean ride.
"He’s the emperor in my stable now," said a beaming Nathalie at the press conference. "I’m still pinching myself, I got a new mark already. I’m again completely speechless. My aim was to be amongst the top six; being second is beyond me. I still have to start realising it."
Trained by Kyra Kyrklund's partner Richard White, Zu Saeyn-Wittgenstein admitted that Digby has matured with age. "He likes the crowds, he has always liked them," she said. "My other horse is a very spooky one. This one doesn’t so much. You can concentrate on riding a nice fluent test, and don’t have to worry about your surroundings."
Digby will get a break as of tomorrow and the Danish Olympian has planned on competing him only at a select few shows this summer. She will ride at Aachen and the Danish Championships in Broholm two weeks later in July as both shows count as Danish team selection trials for the 2011 European Championships.
Ulla Salzgeber and "Herzi" win the Hearts of the Crowds and Judges
Bavarian based German Ulla Salzgeber and her 12-year old Rhinelander bred gelding Herzruf's Erbe (by Herzruf x Caletto I) finished third with 78.821%. The chestnut gelding's halt was not immobile but Salzgeber made up for that flaw by riding a thrilling first part in which outstanding piaffe-passage work was intertwined with powerful trot movements. The chunky chestnut has tons of expression and is very focused on his rider. The strike-off to canter went wrong and one pirouette left could have been more bent in the body. The walk part was very good and only at the end "Herzi", as Ulla calls her new partner-in-crime, ran out of steam in the piaffe pirouette.
While Ulla's ride was delightful to watch and Herzruf's Erbe brimmed with talent and potential for the future, their freestyle based on music from Les Miserable was a lowpoint. The bombastic classical music bounced off the walls and added absolutely nothing to spectacular gaits of the horse. The music was just pomp and circumstance, which one relates to a Napoleontic military parade, instead of something fresh, modern and excitig complimenting the qualities of the horse. We surely hope that Ulla will get her money back for this ill-fitting kur because if she wants to be in the top five of the world, her music desperately craves modernization.
"I’m very very happy and pleased, because he’s very young," Ulla said about her third place and the performances of her horse. "It’s his first indoor season. The crowd, the whole atmosphere, he’s not used to it. I love him. He worked so well for me today. I really love him."
With such a high quality performance, Salzgeber is back in the picture for a spot on the German team. Her goal of the season are the European Championships and she will ride at the qualifiers in Balve (German Championships) and hopefully at Aachen as member of the German CDIO team.
In conversation with the German equestrian magazine St. Georg, Salzgeber said that she and Herzi really became a team this past winter. After a long break from injury in 2009, Herzruf's Erbe has finally grown into a more confident Grand Prix horse. "There was a moment and as of then everything was different," Salzgeber said about her "click" this past winter. "A horse needs time to recover after such an injury and that is why I didn't ride him at the big shows and the German Championships in 2010." The horse's maturity, of which he gave testimony in Leipzig, is staggering. "We have given him time. In Aachen he was just 10 years old and new at Grand Prix. Now he's 12 and he has arrived at Grand Prix." Not only physically, but also mentally. "He is much more relaxed at shows. He lies down to sleep in his stall and really sits back and chills out. Every day he lies in his stall." His rider is extremely pleased about this newfound attitude. "It is such a relief when I see him relax." The gelding has become a bit chubbier, maybe because this inner peace of mind. "Yes, he gained some weight around the belly, but he's permitted that."
Text and Photos by Astrid Appels - No reproduction allowed
More to come on the freestyle tomorrow!!
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