Rothenberger and Von Bredow-Werndl Win the 2024 German Dressage Championships

Fri, 06/14/2024 - 15:57
2024 German Dressage Championships - Balve (GER) - 6 - 9 June 2024
The GP Special podium at the 2024 German Dressage Championships: Wandres, von Bredow-Werndl and Klimke :: Photos © Stefan Lafrentz

At the 2024 German Dressage Championships for Grand Prix level riders in Balve on 6 - 9 June 2024, Under 25 rider Semmieke Rothenberger and senior GP rider Jessica von Bredow-Werndl came out as winners, grabbing each both gold medals and the titles.

The Under 25 championship was part of the Piaff Forderpreis qualifier, while the senior Grand Prix division counted as Germany's first Olympic team selection trial

Seniors: Von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera On Top Again

After proving form at the CDI Basel and Munich, reigning Olympic champions Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Beatrice Burchler-Keller's 17-year old Trakehner mare Dalera BB (by Easy Game x Handryk) swept the board in Balve and won all three rounds. 

In the warm-up Grand Prix class it was not a flawless ride that led to her first victory of the weekend. Issues in the collected walk, severe rhythm loss in the second piaffe and a mistake in the two tempi changes meddled with the points. The all-German (!) judges panel (Danzberg, Eisenhardt, Ebert, R. Richenhagen, Nivelle) rewarded the ride with a winning 78.640%. The trend was set for the weekend.  For von Bredow-Werndl, "Dalera is in the form of her life. The test felt really, really great at times, but she was also quite ticklish and we made some really expensive mistakes. The two-way changes didn't work at all and I picked up the piaffe too quickly, which threw her off her rhythm. That was expensive and a shame, but she's in a really good mood nonetheless!"

Jessica von Bredow-Wernd on Dalera BB
In the first test that counted for medals - the Grand Prix Special - Werndl ironed out the creases and aside from a bobble in the final trot extension, the points went soaring and she renewed her national champion's title with 81.078%. The silver went to a consistently performing Frederic Wandres on the 14-year old Oldenburg Bluetooth (by Bordeaux x Riccione). After a second place in the Grand Prix with 77.380%, they upped the ante in the Special and got a whopping 79.431% from the judges, never scoring below 7 for any of the movements. The phoenix in Balve this year was Ingrid Klimke on Wilhelm Holkenbrink's 16-year old Hanoverian stallion Franziskus (by Fidertanz x Alabaster). She landed on the podium with bronze after scoring 78.509% and edging out Wandres on his second horse Duke of Britain as well as Isabell Werth on Quantaz. Werth was 'only' 8th in the Grand Prix (73.760%) but moved up the board in the Special with 76.627%.

Werndl topped up a successful weekend with Kur to Music gold. Riding to her French Edith Piaf music, she and Dalera danced to 89.600%. Saying the usual words to describe the feeling after the test, Jessica said, "I have never had such a feeling as today." She added, "she always gives everything and more." The evening before the freestyle, she changed a few small things and mentally run through her floorplan several times on foot. The pair has proven to be ready for Paris and has been given dispensation from competing at the second Olympic team trial in Aachen.

The Kur podium: Wandres; Werndl, Rothenberger
Wandres opted to ride  the 17-year old Duke of Britain (by Dimaggio x Rubinstein) in the freestyle to rest Bluetooth who will have another three-test show in three weeks at the second and final German Olympic team qualifier in Aachen. Wandres and Duke achieved the second highest score, 83.450%, good for silver. "Duke gave a great performance, now on the third day," said Wandres. "He is still really fresh. And as fresh as he is, he did a little buck. Fortunately, apart from a small bobble, no real mistakes were made. H is happy, and so are we."

Not Ingrid Klimke but Sönke Rothenberger jumped on the podium for the kur bronze medal. Aboard his 10-year old Danish gelding Fendi (by Franklin x Diamond) he posted 81.125%.  Sönke was very frank in the press conference where he explained how difficult it is to reproduce the feeling from home or the warm-up in the competition ring. "For me, it was definitely not our weekend. My horses were in a great mood, but I was in a deep hole. The feeling was a little gone that everything is just right, even in the warm-up. That's really annoying for me, but it's no use and you just have to shake it off. The foundation is there, but the feeling and the ease have to be delivered in the test on day X. That's wearing me down a little from the inside."

Ingrid was fourth with 80.750% and made herself a real contender for a German Olympic team spot ahead of team fixture Isabell Werth, who placed fifth with 79.850%

Under 25: Semmieke Rothenberger Does the Double 

In the Under 25 division it became a duel between last year's U25 champions Semmieke Rothenberger and Helen Erbe. This year Rothenberger took both gold medals, but Erbe and her 17-year old Hanoverian Carlos (by Carabas x Weltmeyer) certainly gave her a run for her money.

The division started off with Erbe winning the warm-up round, Intermediaire II, with 75.000%; well ahead of Semmieke and her 14-year old KWPN gelding Farrington (by Jazz x Samba Hit) on 73.789%.

The U25 Kur podium: Erbe, Rothenberger, Collin
The first medal contest took place in the U25 Grand Prix (aka short Grand Prix) and the tables were turned. Rothenberger dominated the class with a winning score of 74.790% for the gold, while the third placed pair in the Inter II, Anna Schölermann and the 11-year old Hanoverian Bon Scolari (by Bon Bravour x Scolari) moved into the silver medal position with 72.441%, while Lia Welschof and 12-year old Swiss bred GB Dolcino (by Don Index x De Niro) slotted in third for bronze with 71.627%. Collin was fourth and Erbe landed fifth place after two issues with flying changes.

For Rothenberger and Farrington the Nationals  were only their first show of 2024  after they had a nine-month break from competition. In November 2023 Farrington sustained and injury and missed out on the 2023 Piaff Forderpreis finals in Stuttgart. In Balve the pair celebrated their come back and achieved a second gold medal after winning the freestyle with 80.675%. Erbe made a strong come back on the final day and claimed freestyle silver with 78.950% while Collin moved on the podium for bronze after earning 75.100% on her 14-year old KWPN bred Ferrero D (by Tuschinski x Jazz).

"Balve is always a special show," said Rothenberger. "It's great to be able to ride here as an U25 rider and to be able to watch how the best of the best train and compete here in Germany. There is always a special atmosphere to ride here. I was super happy with my horse Farrie from the start, who once again threw his heart into the test and persevered for three days. I assumed that he might be a little tired on the last day, but he had more energy than in the last few days combined. It's just nice to see a horse fight like that for you."

Para: Dresing and Niehues Win

The German Para Dressage Championships were held for the first time in Balve and this on the same weekend of the inaugural CPEDI Hagen at Hof Kasselmann. Germany's best para riders were all present at the Nationals where two podiums were celebrated. 

The German para championship medal winners: Dresing,
Benzinger, Zeibig, Niehues, Nowak and Mispelkamp
"A new task that we have accepted with great respect," said show host Rosalie Countess von Landsberg-Velen, who is also a member of the German Board of Trustees for Therapeutic Riding. The accommodations had to be adapted to the para riders. Ramps were built, the nearest stable tent was provided and covered with rubber mats to make access easier for wheelchair users. "We felt welcome here from the very first moment. The organizer really did everything to make our participation as suitable as possible. A solution was sought for every little problem," said German para team coach Silke Fütterer-Sommer.

For the podium of Grade I, II and III it was Heidemarie Dresing on Dooloop who captured the goal ahead of Martina Benzinger with Nautika and Steffen Zeibig with Patamon.

For the podium of Grade IV and V it was Anna-Lena Niehues topped the board for gold, while Isabell Nowak landed silver and Regine Mispelkamp got bronze. 

Photos © Stefan Lafrentz - FN

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