Team Sweden claimed highest honour in the Nations Cup at the 2018 CDIO Uggerhalne which concluded on Sunday 27 May 2018. However, it was Danish Danial Bachmann Andersen and his shooting star Blue Hors Zepter that were the talk of the town with two stunning rides.
The Equitour Aalborg in Uggerhalne, Denmark, is a huge international dressage and show jumping event hosted in the north of Jutland and is staged by Andreas Helgstrand and show organizer Jens Trabjerg. While last year the inaugural edition was plagued by cold, dreary weather, the conditions could not have been more perfect this year. It was "Costa Del Aalborg" with 27° C summer sun and blue skies every single day except for a thunder storm during the last few rides on Sunday.
Equitour Aalborg featured a packed programme of CDI and CDIO classes for pony, junior and young riders; a small tour and Under 25 divsion, a 3* Grand Prix tour won by homeside hero Severo Jurado Lopez, as well as the Danish leg of the brand new amateur circuit Almased Dressage Amateurs.
Denmark and the Nations' Cup
The top of the bill, however, was the third leg of the 2018 FEI Nations Cup circuit, the CDIO Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special, held at the end of the event, on Saturday and Sunday 26 - 27 May 2018. Only four nations decided to send a team to Uggerhalne, and the low attendance for the 5* tour proves that the FEI makes little effort in turning the Nations' Cup formula into a success for dressage. Each CDIO show host can also decide for themselves what the formula is for the final ranking and in Uggerhalne it depended on the three best scores in the Grand Prix and the three best scores in the Grand Prix Special.
Home nation Denmark was seeking to reclaim its victory from last year, but the dice fell very differently this year after unexpected twists and turns in the Grand Prix. Danish GP team rider Anna Zibrandtsen was eliminated after Arlando bit his lip and started to bleed from the mouth. Danish star rider Cathrine Dufour saddled her top horse Cassidy for the CDIO Compiegne in France a week ago and opted for her new young star, the Zinglersen family's Bohemian for Uggerhalne. The temperamental Bordeaux x Samarant gelding is known to be a sensitive cookie and his youthfulness played up in the Grand Prix. He spooked from the judges box in the trot half passes and went into refusal mode.. Dufour kept her cool and continued her round unphazed, but two of the piaffes were hardly existent. Their score was 65.717% for 12th place. Third Danish team rider Rikke Svane and her gorgeous Trakehner stallion Finckenstein recently relocated from Luxembourg to Denmark and the combination switched trainers. They are not yet at the top of their game and finished 9th in the Grand Prix with 67.609%.
This left plenty of room for one of Denmark's most exciting combinations to surface at the top: Daniel Bachmann Andersen on Blue Hors Zepter. Bachmann and the 10-year old Oldenburg gelding (by Zack x Wolkentanz II) already made a stunning impression a month ago at the CDI Hagen, but the way the horse has consolidated and confirmed himself even more in the Grand Prix work in one month time is jawdropping. The chestnut looks like a compacter, more elastic version of Mistral Hojris and has unlimited piaffe-passage potential. The horse can still sit even more on the hindquarters in piaffe and close the frontlegs a bit more in passage, but the ingredients are there. The tempi changes have scope but could cover even more ground, the pirouettes were tiny. They posted a well-earned, winning 76.217% in the Grand Prix and went on to post 78.128% in the Grand Prix Special for the number one spot. There was even a bigger score in store had the rider not ridden 11 tempi changes on the centerline instead of 9.
"For me riding Zepter has become art," said an ecstatic Bachmann. "He is so soft and reacts to my aids in a split second which gives me fantastic feeling. The best of it is that we can achieve even more points once I can succeed in riding a faultless test on him. I will choose his sire Blue Hors Zack over Zepter for the bigger events this year, but I believe that Zepter will be my future horse for the big international championships."
Sweden Wins Nations Cup
Swedish chef d'equipe Bo Jena combined two experienced team riders Tinne Vilhelmson and Therese Nilshagen with two B-squad combinations (Friberg, Hogberg) and his decision proved to be a good one.
Nilshagen found a new gear on Lodbergen's 11-year old Oldenburg stallion Dante Weltino OLD (by Danone I x Welt Hit II) in Uggerhalne. Usually Nilshagen is an almost self-effacing passenger on her horse, but this time she put the pedal to the metal and her risk paid off. While they were all safe and conservative in Hagen, the duo now went for it in Denmark. The trot extensions were no longer just leg flash, but the stallion actually achieved overtrack. The extended canter and pirouettes are always highlights. The zig zag was well ridden but there was a mistake in the one tempi changes. The passage was very bouncy but not always entirely regular and in piaffe one wishes to see a bit more suspension overall. They were third in the Grand Prix with 73.087% and went on to place second in the Special with 75.319%.
After missing the 2018 World Cup Finals in Paris, Tinne Vilhelmson was back on a recovered Paridon Magi, her 15-year old Swedish bred Don Primero x Napoleon offspring. In the Grand Prix the horse looked more comfortable in the work again than in his final weeks in Wellington. The trot extensions could have been more elastic, but the passage was lightfooted, the two tempi changes uphill and the zig zag strong. Overall the dark bay gelding could close the mouth more. They were fourth in the Grand Prix with 72.304% and fifth in the special with 72.213%.
"It means a lot for Sweden to win the Nations Cup here in Uggerhalne today," said Bo Jena. "Another Swedish team won in Compiègne which means that Sweden is in the lead of the circuit, and we are striving to win the overall title like we did last year. We look very much forward to competing in Rotterdam with yet another strong team."
Bronze for Holland
The Dutch team travelled with four combinations to Denmark but only three appeared at the starting line. Unfortunately Madeleine Witte-Vrees' 15-year old KWPN stallion Wynton (by Jazz x Matador) failed at the vet check and was withdrawn for fitness issues. The black licensed stallion had only recently returned to the competition arena after struggling with niggling injuries for four years. He has done one CDI in 2017 and was in Neumunster in February of this year. "He went well in training the same morning (of the vet check)," Witte explained. "It's such a pity. Back home without doing business. Hopefully he gets well soon."
So Emmelie Scholtens and Ad Valk's 13-year old KWPN licensed stallion Apache (by UB40 x Krack C) were the anchors for the Dutch effort and they did a great job. The loud mouth stallion is more than a handful to handle but Scholtens has found the recipe to keep him focused on her in the show ring. In the Grand Prix the pair showed beautiful trot half passes, tiny pirouettes and controlled trot extensions. The horse is rhythmical in passage but he once broke into canter and in the piaffe he stays quite small as he gets very narrow behind. The extended walk was decent but there was a tiny jog in the collected. Scholtens landed second place in the Grand Prix with 73.870% and was third in the Special with 74.745%.
Thamar Zweisyra and the 10-year old KWPN stallion Double Dutch (by Johnson x Rubiquil) and Danielle Heijkoop on her 12-year old KWPN gelding Badari (by Gribaldi x Damocles) assisted in getting solid scores for Holland to finish third on the Nations Cup podium.
The fourth FEI Nations Cup leg of 2018 will be in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on 21 - 24 June 2018.
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - No Reproduction Allowed
Eurodressage was on the scene in Uggerhalne. If you are interested in photos for prints or social media, send us an email
Scores 2018 CDIO Uggerhalne
Jurado Lopez and Deep Impact Win 3* Tour at 2018 Equitour Aalborg
Fellini, Top Seller of the 2018 Nordic International Sales
Danish Team Chasing Double Victory at 2018 CDIO Uggerhalne
Dressage Schedule Approved for 2018 Equitour Aalborg
Successful Start of 2018 Almased Dressage Amateurs in Hamburg, Wiesbaden and Uggerhalne Next