Isabell Werth and the 15-year old Westfalian mare Bella Rose conjured up more magic to draw out no less than 34 tens from the panel of judges for her Grand Prix Special at the 2019 CDIO Aachen. She won the class with 84.447% and referred Dorothee Schneider back to second place and Dujardin to third.
The 5* CDIO Nations Cup competition continued with the second test, the Grand Prix Special, on Saturday 20 July 2019. For the team ranking the added points of the three highest scoring riders per team in the Grand Prix and Special were decisive. After the Grand Prix, Germany was in the lead, Denmark second and the U.S.A. third and the Special brought no changes in that top three ranking.
While the weather was summery hot with a thunderstorm threatening in the background, the dressage riders rode in warm but good conditions in front of the distinguished panel of five judges, which included Irina Maknami, Evi Eisenhardt, Susanne Baarup, Clive Halsall, Janet Foy. The Grand Prix Special was a wonderful class today with so many lovely tests, smashing horses and good riding.
While the judges were unanimous over Werth's victory in the Special, critics and fans discussed afterwards that Schneider could easily have deserved instead. Today in the Special, the judges had a bit of doubt as well over Werth's long-term reign at the top with two out of five ranking Schneider first. Isabell scored a massive 84.447% with no less than 34 10s, but her individual scores ranged from 82.021% to 86.915%.
Werth's test on the Belissimo M x Cacir AA mare was certainly better than yesterday. It all looked less laboured and the transitions to and from piaffe were absolutely silky smooth. A horse that does not truly lower the haunches in the piaffe, can automatically make smoother transitions and stay more rhythmical, but that is only half of the classical dressage task accomplished as a correct piaffe has the haunches lowered and the withers up. Bella Rose's trot extensions achieved one hoof overstep and had lots of leg flash in front, but never swung over the back. The trot half passes, though, are fantastic. The left passage was superior to the right one. In the right one, the mare ended up nose diving twice in the extended trot. The extended walk had definitely improved today with two hooves overtrack and a better rhythm. The collected walk was short-long in front. The transition into piaffe was superb. The first piaffe was good, but in the second she stalled in the rhythm. The two tempi changes were uphill but could have been more ground covering, the ones can be straighter in the forehand, but all were correct. In the left pirouette she dropped on the forehand, the right one was very small. Overall Werth had a better contact with the mouth today, which was more closed.
Dorothee Schneider and the 13-year old Hanoverian gelding Showtime (by Sandro Hit x Rotspon) could have won the class today but there were two hiccups that tampered with the score. There was a break into canter in the passage- extended trot transition and also the strikeoff to canter from passage didn't go as planned. Nevertheless, the combination showed brilliantly correct work. Showtime maybe does not track under that much in passage, but the rhythm is also like clockwork and his smaller piaffes are more correct as the horse takes the weight on the hindquarters and also executes solid transitions. The tempi changes were all correct, but could cover more ground and be ridden more forward to fill the diagonal. The flying change after the extended canter came early to the marker. The final passage on the centerline was exceptional but the end halt was not square. Schneider had Showtime elastic in the contact, chewing and acceptant of the bit. While the nose could come a little bit more out, the frame was very constant. They scored 83.617% with marks ranging between 81.702% and 84.574%.
British Charlotte Dujardin and Sonnar Murray-Brown's 12-year old Trakehner gelding Erlentanz (by Latimer x Benz) produced a beautiful ride today. The horse showed lovely trot extensions and a very expressive passive, but it wasn't always even behind. There was a small hiccup in the left passage near A. The half pass to the right was wonderful and the extended walk was ground covering and relaxed. The pair rode its very first Grand Prix Special here at Aachen, but it did not show they were Special debutants. The first piaffe was well ridden on the spot, but a bit unbalanced in front. The second had one back-step and then crept a bit forward, but Erlentanz tried his heart out. The two tempi changes were nice and straight, but he swung heavily in the ones (still a 7.9). The left pirouette was the best one. In the piaffe at X the horse got a bit uneven and wide in front. They scored 80.277%
What was so lovely today was that so many of the top horses produced sharp and clean rides with much expression, but as soon as the final halt happened and they were given the long rein, they were relaxed and walked out of the arena at ease while the riders had both hands off the reins and were waving to the crowds. Remember the days that the horses piaffed through their end halt, had sweat dripping off their bodies and cantered out of the arena. Thankfully those days for elite sport are over!
There was more magic in Aachen today. German Jessica von Bredow-Werndl had a wonderful ride on Beatrice Burchler-Keller's 12-year old Trakehner mare Dalera BB (by Easy Game x Handryk). The tall bay mare showed strong trot extensions and half passes with good cadence. The transitions passage - extended trot were very smooth. Unfortunately in the collected walk she paced which made the transition into the piaffe difficult. The first piaffe was lovely on the spot though and she found her rhythm although the mare could climb more in front. Von Bredow-Werndl had the mare in a very steady, elastic contact and especially in the trot the mare has the poll as highest point, but she drops a bit in canter. The two tempi changes were good, but the ones needed to be straighter. The extended canter was very nice. They scored 79.021%.
Cathrine Dufour and the Zinglersen family's Westfalian gelding Bohemian (by Bordeaux x Samarant) completed the top five with a 78.809% earning test. The liver chestnut is just 9 years old and he is still very green at Grand Prix, which shows in him still being behind the vertical and not yet fully carrying himself from behind. However he already shows many flashes of greatness, including the very regular and floaty passage. The extended trots, though, are rushed and over bent to the left. The first piaffe was small, but Dufour rode the piaffe-passage serpentine with much feeling. The extended canter and two tempi changes need to have more uphill tendency but the ones were straight. The pirouettes were small but still a bit flat. The final piaffe at X was wide in front (which is a proof that he does not have that self carriage yet), but overall it was a very appealing test with so much more in the tank for the future.
Text and photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED
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Eurodressage Coverage of the 2019 CDIO Aachen