Van Silfhout and Team Germany Lead after Day One at 2015 European Dressage Championships

Thu, 08/13/2015 - 03:10
2015 European Dressage Championships

Dutch rider Diederik van Silfhout took the lead in the provisional ranking of the Grand Prix test after the first day of competition at the 2015 European Dressage Championships in Aachen, Germany, on Wednesday 12 August 2015. While Van Silfhout posted the highest day score of the day with his 75.814%, it is team Germany that leads the nations' ranking so far with an almost two percent advantage to Holland and five percent to Great Britain. However, tomorrow the cards will be fully reshaken with the top combinations putting in their two cents. 

Kick off day in Aachen was a bit a lacklastre. The weather was mild but very cloudy for the majority of the day, casting a bit of a haze in the gorgeous main stadium, where dressage takes place this week. The stands were pretty much empty all day long and the guestimated crowd of 3,000 could not give an impression of occupation in an arena with a capacity of 45,000. The weekend is said to be sold out so the atmosphere will certainly become electric later on.

It was an interesting day with the fourth and third riders of a team getting their moment in the spotlight. The scores did turn out a bit different than expected with some of the favourites performing below their standard and a few surprize riders making a thrilling impression of a glorious future these next few days.

At major continental championships the panel of judges is increased from five to seven judges and working Aachen are Susanne Baarup (DEN), Katrina Wüst (GER), Annette Fransén-Iacobaeus (SWE), Eduard de Wolff van Westerrode (NED), Jean-Michel Roudier (FRA), Anne Gribbons (USA), and Andrew Gardner (GBR).

Diederik van Silfhout was one of the last riders to appear today and he lifted the bar to a higher standard. His 10-year old Dutch warmblood stallion (by Paddox x Mytens) looked fit and energetic and began his Grand Prix with a good halt. The first extended trot was extravagant in front but with only one hoof overtrack, the second one was better. The half passes were elegant but especially the right one needed more fluidity. Arlando has an extremely lightfooted piaffe that is gorgeous to watch, but it's a pity the rider sits it with a hunched back, yet giving very refined aids. The piaffe-passage work is very appealing but still lacks more natural swing and relaxation in the top line. This also shows in the fact that the horse can not produce overtrack in the extended walk (still scores 6.0 - 6.5). There was a mistake in the two tempi changes and in the extended canter there was not enough lengthening of the frame. The one tempi changes were correct but need to cover more ground. The pirouettes were small, but the strides in the right one where not of equal scope and in the left one there could have been slightly more bend around the leg. The final centerline was outstanding but the end halt was not square.  The judges scored the test from 73.000 (Roudier) to 78.600 (Wust).

British Fiona Bigwood made her come back on the team after a five year break (last time 2010 WEG in Kentucky) with the 9-year old Danish mare Atterupgaards Orthilia (by Gribaldi x Donnerschlag). The bay mare is in her first year at international Grand Prix and brims with potential. The canter at entry was a bit unconvincing but the halt was balanced and the first extended trot strong. The mare gets a bit passagey in the collected trot and could have been more regular in the half pass right, but the next trot extension was stunning with lots of leg in front and still good overstep. Orthilia really sits in piaffe and stays on the spot, the passage is nice.  In the collected walk she became lateral though, but the second piaffe-passage combination was lovely. In the extended canter the mare needs to develop more uphill tendency and in the ones more ground cover, but the pirouettes were nice and small. The pair scored 75.800%, just a fraction short of Van Silfhout's top score. Fiona's scored ranged from 73.400 (Roudier) to 77.800 (Gardner).

German Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and the 14-year old Dutch warmblood stallion Unee BB (by Gribaldi x Dageraad) scored around their usual Grand Prix average when 75.200% flashed on the board for a provisional third place. The test, however, was a bit so so for such a high calibre rider; more was expected of this pair. The halt at entry was not square, but the first trot extension was nice. There could have been a bit more bending in the body in the right half pass. The appealing stallion unfortunately produced underwhelming passage work with the hindlegs moving out instead of under the body. In the first piaffe the first few steps were not forward-thinking enough but then it improved. The second piaffe was better. There was a mistake in the two tempi changes and the horse swings the hindquarters to the left. The pirouettes were good enough and the final centerline was the nicest pi-pa line in the test. Von Bredow finished with a good halt. Her marks were consistent across the board.

German Isabell Werth and the 14-year old Hanoverian Don Johnson (by Don Frederico x Warkant) paid dearly for a mistake in the one tempi changes, which carry a double coefficient. They finished fourth provisionally with 74.900%, quite below their season standard. The halt at entry was beautiful, the first trot extension could have have more engagement from behind. The half pass right was excellent, the one to the left could have had more parallelity in the hindquarters. The second trot extensions was very well ridden. The piaffe is not the most epressive one but has clear rhythm, the passage sometimes lacked push from behind. The second piaffe was slightly early on the marker but had a good rhythm. It must be said, Isabell Werth is such an amazing competition rider bringing absolute tunnel focus to the show ring. Her zig zag was outstanding, the two tempi changes good and the pirouettes were small (but have been more bent round the inside leg). Unfortunately a mistake crept into the ones and made her score drop significantly. The expected big lead that Germany was expected to built got a bit smaller.Her scores ranged from 72.900 (De Wolff) and 77.900 (Wust).

Dutch Patrick van der Meer and his long legged, graceful 14-year old Dutch warmblood gelding Uzzo (by Lancet x Indoctro) should count their blessings for their 72.400% score. Uzzo is a lovely, sporty athlete but today he looked tense and tight in the topline and had the nose behind the vertical the entire test. The horse has much leg flash and it shows in the ground covering trot half passes and extensions. The passage is too electric and tense and in the first piaffe Uzzo struggled to find the rhythm, which meddled with the transitions. In the collected walk the horse became lateral. The second passage was laboured and the second piaffe slightly small. In the canter work, Uzzo produced a very big extension in the legs but the frame needed to open more. The two tempi changes were crooked to the left, the ones were much more solid but the horse swooshed his tail much. The final piaffe was tense and Uzzo had a tremor in his lower lip. The passage work on the centerline was the best one shown.  Van der Meer's score went from 70.800 (Gardner) to 74.00 (Wust).

Swedish Emilie Nyrerod was the fourth rider on her team but produced the best Swedish score of the day with a 71.829%. Her 16-year old Oldenburg bred Miata (by Lancado x Grasco) showed lovely piaffe and passage with good activity but in the piaffe the horse swooshes the tail as well. The pirouettes could have been more bent. They finished sixth.

Spanish Daniel Jose Daniel Martin Dockx and the 16-year old PRE stallion Grandioso (by Adelante x Sevillano IX) could have scored higher than 71.343% had there not been a break into canter in the extended trot and a mistake in the two tempi changes. Also the half pass right was not regular in the rhythm but the second piaffe-passage was really nice.



Belgian Jorinde Verwimp was the fourth rider to go in the morning and fulfilled all expectations and more when she posted a score of 71.086 with a flawless test aboard her 15-year old Dutch warmblood gelding Tiamo (by Lester x Hemmingway). The young Belgian rider, who won bronze in the kur at last year's European Young Riders Championships in Arezzo, has made a dreamlike transition to senior Grand Prix, straight away capturing a spot on the Belgian team. Her Grand Prix ride in Aachen was a milestone. The halts were not square though, but the extensions were balanced, the piaffe nicely on the spot and there was good relaxation in walk. The left half pass was not very supple and the first transition in and out of the passage was a bit jumpy. The canter work was solid with a good zig zag and correct changes. Tiamo stayed nice and quiet in the contact and Verwimp rode a cool, calm and collected test.

One of the crowd favourites of the day was French team newcomer Pierre Volla on his hyper talented 9-year old Dutch warmblood mare Badinda Altena (by Tolando x Goodtimes). The chestnut powerball is so expressive in her trot work and piaffe and passage, but just like Arlando she lacks swing in the back and relaxation. She still gets a bit too electric and high strung. The mare has amazing airtime in the piaffe and passage but is tense. There were a few smalll issues in the canter: one flying change in the zig zag was short, the one tempi changes lacked ground cover and the stride was slightly lost in the pirouettes, but the extended canter was uphill. The duo scored 70.357% and there is certainly more in the tank.

The Grand Prix continues on Thursday 13 August 2015 at 11h00.

Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED

Related Link
Eurodressage On the Scene at the 2015 European Dressage Championships
Scores 2015 European Dressage Championships