Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and Digby are Flawless in CDI Grand Prix at 2012 World Cup Finals

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 21:38
2012 World Cup Finals

Danish Olympian Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and her 15-year old home bred Danish warmblood gelding Digby (by Donnerhall x Sandro) were flawless in the CDI 4-star Grand Prix class held at the 2012 World Cup Finals in 's Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, on Thursday morning 19 April 2012. The combination excelled with their accuracy and correct riding and outranked her competitors with distinction.

Zu Sayn's Digby might not be the bubbliest mover of the pack, but the horse shines with his clarity in rhythm, pureness in his gaits, lightness in the bridle and flawless execution of all movements. While the trot half passes and extensions are not the most bouyant, the horse covers ground and reaches far with his legs. The superb piaffe and passage with immaculate transitions are mindblowing, the pirouettes are tiny, the zig zag accurate. There was very little to comment on Nathalie's ride and her winning, unanimous score of 75.085% was well earned. 

After their Grand Prix CDI debut in Addington, Great Britain, Imke Schellekens and Toots made their first international big tour display for the continental crowds in Den Bosch today. The 1.88 m tall Jazz x Havidoff offspring is a majestic mover with unlimited scope in the forehand. Toots certainly becomes the dressage arena but in his first year at Grand Prix there still are many minor issues which need fixing in order for him to be a top scoring horse. The trot work was well regulated with big flowing half passes. The rein back was against the hand with trailing legs. The first passage was lovely and in piaffe the black clearly tries to sit on the hindquarters but consistently steps on his own coronet bands (like Satchmo did) which makes him lose the rhythm. The extended walk was wonderful, the collected was lateral. Towards the end of the test the horse lost power gradually in the passage and it became more a slowed down trot lacking in collection, power and bounce. The tempi changes were correct but in the ones this tall horse should cover the entire diagonal with his big strides. The pirouettes were a highlight, though the first one was quite big. The pirouette to the right was excellent. There was a slight loss of rhythm in the last extended trot and Toots ran out of steam in the piaffe at X. The pair finished second in the Grand Prix with 72.851%.

Edward Gal made his international Grand Prix debut with the Danish owned and seasoned Grand Prix horse Romanov (by Rohdiamant x Grundstein II). It was interesting to watch the improvement this horse has made on certain fields: he stayed more up in the bridle with the poll as highest point, the tempi changes were correct and the piaffe on the spot and in rhythm is a highlight. However, some parts of the Grand Prix remain an issue with this horse: in passage he fails to achieve clear regularity as he is often more active with his right hind leg. While Romanov was steady at the vertical, he did open up his mouth more and clearly showed his tongue in several movements, including the half passes. With a score of 71.596% and a third place, Gal made a successful international debut on one of his Olympic contenders.

Swedish Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Antonia Ax:son Johnson's Rhinelander gelding Favourit (by Fidermark x Worldchamp) were fourth with a score of 70.064%.

The temperamental chestnut gelding showed great trot half passes, lot of elevation in passage, good overstep in the extended walk and wonderful tempi changes, but he lacked impulsion in all three piaffes and was a bit tense in the back and unsteady in the contact throughout the test.

Dutch Marlies van Baalen and her little powerhouse Miciano (by Medici x Dialekt) posted a score of 68.468% to complete the top five. The trot extensions were rushed. The piaffe and passage were very electric and off the ground and the zig zag was wonderful. The pair, however, lacked some fine-tuning today: the horse made a harsh transition to trot after the rein back and though the contact was light there is no true, relaxed swinging in the back from the hindquarters to the front today.

Text and Photos by Astrid Appels © - No Reproduction Allowed!

Eurodressage Coverage of the 2012 World Cup Finals