After the disconcerting withdrawal of Totilas for the Aachen freestyle, the space was cleared for Charlotte Dujardin to move into the winner's circle in the Kur to Music and claim the Aachen Grand Champion's title on Sunday 20 July 2014. It was the first time in 56 years (last time in 1958, Joan Gold on Gay Gordon xx) that a Brit won this prestigious title. Helen Langehanenberg finished second and Isabell Werth was third.
Riding to her inspiring new Celtic music - a major step up from the British nationalistic mish mash - Dujardin and Valegro showed good differentiation between the medium and extended trot. Her floorplan includes the lovely sequence of trot half passes, a piaffe pirouette, passage half passes and regular half passes. The horse was nice and soft in the piaffe-passage rhythm. The extended walk had good overtrack and was clear in the rhythm. There was a mistake in the two tempi changes and the onset of the ones was a bit hesitant. Charlotte finished her ride with a trot extension, transitioning into a piaffe pirouette fan. The horse was active from behind, only in the last passage before the end halt the hindleg began to trail.
The judges' panel for the freestyle was the same for the entire CDIO 5* division: Susan Hoevenaars (AUS), Stephen Clarke (GBR), Dietrich Plewa (GER), Francis Verbeek-van Rooy (NED), and Isabelle Judet (FRA). Dujardin scored 87.900% in total. The freestyle scoring in Aachen once again proved that the kur assessment system remains as hazy as the smog above Bejing. Charlotte technical marks ranged from 80.75 (Plewa) to 86.50 (Judet). Her artistic scores ranged from 88.00 (Plewa) to 95.00 (Verbeek).
Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill were a strong second with an 86.025% total score. Her horse was quite bent to the left at the start of the test, but the passage had nice elevation and nose stayed nicely in front. There was a good rhythm in the piaffe despite the left bending and the trot extensions were active. Her stallion was obedient and bouyant in the piaffe and passage and appeared the best on the aids he has been that week. There was a mistake in the one tempi's but Helen successfully redid those on the correction line. The walk tour was excellent. The end halt was not square. Her technical marks ranged from 82.00 (Plewa) to 85.25 (Judet) and her artistic scores ranged from 87.00 (Plewa) to 93.00 (Verbeek).
Isabell Werth and Bella Rose made their freestyle debut as a pair in Aachen. Werth had Michael Erdmann make a classically inspired kur with soft, light music. The unoriginal decision to insert Beethoven's Ode to Joy, however, sparks instant jawning as this has been used again, and again, and again in freestyles. Nonetheless, Werth's freestyle was one of the most fun to watch, maybe because the rider expresses so much emotion during and after the ride, connecting with the audience through the brilliance of her mare. Bella Rose showed her best piaffe of the week, finally stepping under a few steps and taking some weight on the hindquarters. The trot extensions are still very unbalanced, rushed, and without decent overtrack. The piaffe and passage was soft and elegant. The mare relaxed well in the extended trot and the collected walk was good. Werth rode the two tempi's on the curved line, but they were a but up instead of forward. The extended canter was very nice as well as the canter half passes, but there was a mistake in the one tempi's. In the extended canter left the mare dropped on the forehand and leaned too much into bridle, which is a sign of her youthness and lack of self carriage still in the canter work. Also in the final piaffe fan she had difficulty sustaining the rhythm. Still it was a lovely test and it earned her 85.150% with technical marks from 80.50 (Clarke) to 82.50 (Verbeek) and artistic scores from 87.00 (Clarke) to 92.00 (Verbeek).
An amazing eight horses scored above 80 in the freestyle! Kristina Sprehe and her macho black stallion Desperados were fourth with 83.150%. Her horse did jerk a little bit behind in the passage. Sprehe rode the nice combination of collected walk - piaffe fan - extended walk. The horse swung behind in the two tempi changes. Sprehe rode with much energy and has her horse on best form in the freestyle. He was working with her. The final piaffe passage line was lovely but the transitions out could be more fine tuned.
Danish Anna Kasprzak and Donnperignon nested themselves into the top of five amongst the world's best riders with her Phil Collins' freestyle. Scoring 82.125%, Kasprzak landed fifth place. She also rode her best piaffe of the week, in which the horse sat more and had a more articulated rhythm. Anna rode big two tempi changes on the circle but lost a bit of the collection in them and then there was a mistake when she tried to make the difficult transition to the one tempi changes. The final piaffe was slightly tense but the last passage was great.
Dutch Adelinde Cornelissen fortunately presented a fresher and slightly better looking Parzival in the freestyle but the horse was still not yet his usual greatness. After an unusually mediocre performance in the Special, Cornelissen did make a come back in her freestyle and scored 81.950%. There was still head nodding in the trot, a nervous flapping of his lower lip and visible halt halting, but the piaffes were back on the ball. In the lofty passage the hindlegs were out on occasion. The tempi changes were all correct but sparkled less. Her mediaeval knight-themed music befits the horse well. Overall Parzival was correct is in his work but appeared less expressive as usual.
The other two 80% scoring riders were Swedish Tinne Vilhelmson on Don Auriello and Michael Eilberg on Half Moon Delphi. The 2014 World Equestrian Games are looking to become the most exciting ever. Next appointment is Caen, France, on 25 - 29 August 2014. Be there!
Text and photos © Astrid Appels / Eurodressage - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED
Eurodressage's Astrid Appels was on the scene taking photos of all CDIO Riders in Aachen. Contact us if you are interested in photo prints, collages or albums.
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2014 CDIO Aachen