Kemmer Sets the Course for German Gold

Tue, 08/22/2006 - 00:00
2006 World Equestrian Games

The 2006 World Equestrian Games were going to be Heike Kemmer's highlight of the show season and she accomplished that by scoring 75.792% in the Grand Prix, winning group 1 and putting team Germany in the lead in the nations' cup.

Bonaparte entered the ring a bit tense and excited which resulted in half passes in which he did not fully use his back, but the extensions were phenomenal. It was a delight to see how much Bonaparte's piaffe had improved since last year. No more backward steps, Bonaparte kept a steady, relaxed rhythm. The walk showed two hooves overtrack but was a bit hasty. The flying changes were ground covering and fantastic to watch. In general, Bonaparte stayed uphill, light in the contact and responsive to the aids. A lovely picture to watch and to shoot. "I really had a great feeling," Kemmer said in the press conference. "The audience gave me a big kick when I came in and Bonaparte grew in the ring. He really wants to go and likes this atmosphere. It was the best ride I've ever had."

Imke Schellekens and Sunrise finished second in group 1 of the Grand Prix. At the 2006 World Cup Finals in April we saw a Sunrise that was extremely tense. Here in Aachen, however, she was there for her rider and kept her cool almost throughout the entire ride. The halt was unsteady (she made a few backward steps) and the final transition from canter to trot was hesitant. The collected trot was too passagey but the piaffe was superb in rhythm. At times, the passage could have been more closed in the frame and Sunrise's legs should step under more but it still very nice. The zig zag was great.

"I'm very pleased with her," Schellekens said. "My mare is in really good shape and she gave me a lot of trust. She was pretty tense because she got excited by the arena. She was not totally concentrated but she was fine."

Surprisingly third was Swedish Tinne Vilhelmson on the Danish warmblood Solos Carex. The pair competed at the 2002 World Equestrian Games but then Solos Carex got into the shadow of Just Mickey. Now the bay is back in the limelight and made a performance of a life time.

It was the overall smoothness with which Solos Carex performed all the Grand Prix moves, that thrilled the judges. Though the horse was long in the frame at times and could have been more closed and light in the hand, he just floated through all the movements with such ease and relaxation. They scored 70.333 and landed a third place.

What a phenomenal international break through did Mexican Bernadette Pujals enforce at the 2006 World Equestrian Games. She stunned everyone with a fantastic ride aboard the Hanoverian Vincent (by Weltmeyer). Super engaged from behind and constantly uphill, Vincent made his mark in the Aachen main ring.

The passage could have been more even (short and long steps varied) but the tempi changes were extraordinary as well as the powerful trot extensions. The horse gave a very relaxed, content impression and the judges honoured that with a 70.00% score and a fourth place. Congratulations!

The best American on day one was Guenter Seidel with Dick and Jane Brown's Bavarian warmblood Aragon (by Abydos).

The piaffe was a text book example: such good rhythm, and this horse really sits! The passage could have been more regular as a few steps were short-long. The trot half pass the right was less good than the half pass to the left, but Seidel followed it up with super trot extensions. The judges scored the ride 69.792 and placed the pair fifth.

Second American to go today, Leslie Morse and Tip Top, had an off-day. The trot work was really good, but the pair lost their focus in the canter and made a series of mistakes in the flying changes and pirouettes. 64.250% was below par for Morse and Tip Top.

No World Championships without a bit of drama. This time Laurens van Lieren was the protagonist. Right before the Dutchman had to enter the ring, a ring steward complained about the logo on Van Lieren's saddle pad (which was not according to FEI rules). He had to change saddle pad and lost 15 minutes of his warm up because of the hassle.

The Dutch pair entered the ring extremely stressed which resulted in a non-walk and an unexpressive piaffe-passage tour in which the transitions were difficult. The extended trots showed much freedom in the shoulder but not enough overtrack. Especially the quality of the piaffe did not suffice today. 68.500% was the jury's verdict (7th place). Afterwards, it turned out that the logo on the saddle pad was according to FEI rules. Van Lieren did not file an official complaint as it would not change the matter. He asked to ride again on Wednesday but, of course, this was not allowed.

Very unfortunate for the young Dutch guy, who took the situation with very good grace during the press conference. Dutch big mouth journalist Jacob Melissen speculated that the German FEI Steward sabotaged Van Lieren's ride. FEI Dressage committee chairwoman Mariette Withages rebuked this by stating "Maybe the saddle pad is just an excuse. Would the horse really have gone better [with 15 minutes extra] or was it just tension in the ring?"

Not the U.S.A nor Sweden or Denmark are currently in the third place, but the team of Great Britain is! The Belgium based Wayne Channon placed eight with Lorenzo CH (Ferro x Wolfgang) after a very safe ride in which the piaffe was the true highlight. The passage could have been more engaged and the trot half pass to the left should have shown more bending in the body. The tempi changes every two strides were very nice.

Channon was immediately followed in the ranking by team mate Laura Bechtolsheimer on Douglas Dorsey (by Donnerhall). This duo scored 67.375% (9th). Douglas was much lighter and uphill than usual which made it easier for Laura to steer him safely and correctly through the test.

Definitely worth mentioning was the performance of Australian Matthew Dowsley on the Hanoverian mare Cinderella (by Carbid).

This lovely chestnut mare is a piece of energy in the ring and she moved with much grace. The piaffe seems to be the "bete noire", though, as Dowsley gets impatient when 'Cinders' can't find the rhythm. In the second piaffe the mare blocked and showed some resistance, but despite this communication error, they produced a lovely test. They are a combination to keep track of in the future! In the Aachen Grand Prix, the scored 66.667 and placed 11th.

Text and Photos © Astrid Appels

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