Bechtolsheimer Brilliant in the CDI Grand Prix at 2009 CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch

Fri, 03/20/2009 - 00:00
2009 CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch

The Indoor Brabant CDI-W competition not only featured the World Cup qualifying classes but also a CDI big tour. On Thursday noon, British Olympic team rider Laura Bechtolsheimer came, saw and conquered with her huge Danish warmblood gelding Mistral Hojris, nicknamed "Alf".

Laura's test was errorfree and one really had the impression that it all came together for her that day.

Her big chestnut (by Michellino) didn't get too strong, nor did Laura make any mistakes. When this happens, the 24-year old Brit has a royal flush in her hands, meaning that she can achieve scores as high as (or higher) the two virtually untouchable diva's Anky van Grunsven or Isabell Werth.

One can even be so bold to say that at the moment there is no horse on the international dressage circuit moving with such power and precision as Mistral. His piaffe and passage are off the ground, suspended, strong, and rhythmical like a metronome. His extensions are mindblowing. This horse is just one ball of brilliance.

The judges were unanimous. Laura and Mistral scored 76,553% and won the class ahead of Edward Gal and Anky van Grunsven.

"I'm very happy. Today was a great day," Bechtolsheimer told Eurodressage. "Yesterday I thought the worst. We were allowed to ride in the main arena but there were still all these guys working. Alf was terrified. It was a disaster. But this morning we schooled again and all was quiet."

Laura is very enthusiastic about Mistral. "The only weakness he has are human mistakes. He always wants to be good."

Wow, what was this 'momma" looking good. Edward Gal presented an improved Sisther de Jeu in Den Bosch. This dark bay mare by Gribaldi is a very expressive mover.

They started their test with very steep half passes in which her legs reached far. The change from half pass right to left was a bit abrupt. The piaffes and passages were extremely rhythmical and the two tempi's were a highlight. The collected walk before the passage was difficult and the aids from collected canter to collected trot were a bit harsh. The rider could have been more subtle with his half halts and spurs at a few instances in the test.

The wonderful pair scored 72.595% to finish second.

He has his strong sides and those he can do incredibly well, but on the level of harmony with the rider and willingness to work, he sometimes fails. Anky van Grunsven had her hands full again with her black stallion Painted Black (by Gribaldi x Ferro). They were the opening ride of the day as first to go in the Grand Prix but Painted did not seem very awake to Anky's demand for electric responsiveness as he was grinding his teeth throughout the ride. The trot half passes were very scopey but lacked smoothness in rhythm.

The passage was not always even despite being well suspended. Painted got crooked in the first piaffe. He broke into canter right before the second passage and there was a mistake in the two tempi's In the pirouette left, he was against the leg and Anky had to correct him with more visible aids.

The 12-year old KWPN bred Painted Black has gained in power and muscle which is clear from his extraordinary trot extensions and his elevation and power in piaffe and passage. Despite his grinding, Anky always had a steady, light contact with the bit, but the list of errors in his Grand Prix was long. The score of 70.936% was jawdropping.

"He was great in the warm up," Anky commented afterwards. "But we had too many mistakes. He's going better and better but it's a pity it didn't work in the test. He's a stallion and they are a bit more difficult to ride. Painted likes it more when the music is turned on [the kur]. It is as if he thinks, "just let me swing"," Anky joked.

Swedish Tinne Vilhelmson aboard the Danish bred Solos Carex. This combination exudes friendliness. Always light and relaxed, Solos Carex are a harmonious pair. There could have been a bit more spark, especially in the piaffe which sometimes lacks a bit of impulsion. They scored 70.680% and ranked fourth.

Stephanie Peters on Jeff (by Jet Set). Peters was one of two riders who forget to execute the rein back. This movement has been inserted in the new Grand Prix test, which became effective in January 2009.

Marlies van Baalen took over the ride on Ojay (by Jazz) from her mother Coby. The black gelding showed a wonderful final passage on the centerline but lacked some loosness in the body.

Am I the only one who thinks this pair deserves much higher scores?

Japanese Hiroshi Hoketsu is an image of total concentration and softness on his delightful Hanoverian mare Whisper (by Wolkenstein II x Grenadier). When I look at my notes, I see SUPER passage, with a big fat bold line drawn under the word super. This is a horse that should score 10 for passage, but never seems to get it. Such rhythm, such power, such ease. What more should a horse do to deserve a 10?

The walk was clean, the transitions between piaffe and passage were textbook, the contact with the bit was exemplary. There only was a mistake in the one tempi's. The judges, however, all agreed on 67.872%

Imke Schellekens-Bartels made her international come back with Sunrise in Den Bosch, but it didn't go as well as planned. The initial halt was not immobile and Imke seemed to be playing it safe. The mare looked tense, her tail was rotating like a propellor. There was little collected walk before the passage. It all reached a boiling point in the canter work. The mare stuck out her tongue three times, in the tempi changes and in between the pirouettes. This made the scores plummet down to a 62.808% despite finishing the ride with a nice final piaffe-passage centerline.

"She felt so fit, but she was a bit nervous and then she's always quite restless in her mouth," Imke Schellekens told Eurodressage. "The whole ride went very differently to what I had imagined. She was in such good shape, she looks fantastic, but there were all these little things at the beginning of the ride and then she stuck her tongue over the bit. This has a gigantic effect on the score. What a bummer."

Schellekens, however, looks positive to the future now that her mare has recovered from the injury she sustained at the Olympics. She aims at qualifying Sunrise (by Singular Joter) hopefully for the 2009 European Championships and 2010 World Equestrian Games. "This [the tongue problem] is something you can train on. I rather have this than a lame horse," she said.

Back to the 2009 Den Bosch index