Sandra Nuxoll and Bonheur de la Vie Reign Supreme in 2020 Louisdor Cup Finals

Mon, 12/21/2020 - 18:57
2020 CDN Kronberg
Sandra Nuxoll and Bonheur de la Vie win the 2020 Louisdor Cup Finals in Kronberg :: Photo © Stefan Lafrentz

Austrian Sandra Nuxoll and the KWPN bred Bonheur de la Vie reigned supreme in 2020 Louisdor Cup Finals, the German Developing Grand Prix Horse Championship, held this year at Gestut Schafhof in Kronberg, Germany, on 19 - 20 December 2020. 

Traditionally the Louisdor Cup finals take place at the international dressage competition in Frankfurt, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and corona restrictions making it impossible to stage an enjoyable large, scale indoor event, the Finals moved to the home base of Frankfurt  organiser Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff, Gestut Schafhof. 

No spectators were allowed, but the competition was streamed live online. The judges panel was stellar with five German 5-star judges officiating: : Elke Ebert, Ulrike Nivelle, Evi Eisenhardt, Katrina Wüst, and Henning Lehrmann.

Supreme Victory for Bonheur de la Vie

The German based Austrian Sandra Nuxoll was a league of her own in the Louisdor Cup Finals aboard the 8-year old KWPN gelding Bonheur de la Vie (by Bordeaux x Tuschinski) scoring 77.140%. The horse looked the most settled and confirmed in the Grand Prix work of all horse in the Cup finals. 

Bonheur reveals his Dutch heritage in the way he moves: a lovely frontleg with some knee action. He has a lovely expressive silhouette, but the tendency to hurry in the trot extensions and not achieving enough ground cover. The hind legs trailed a bit in the half pass to the right, the one to the left was much better. The highlight movement was without a doubt the passage: it was so well carried, very regular and with much airtime. The piaffe, however, was more passage on the spot: he maintained a steady rhythm and stayed up in the bridle, but there was no real lowering of the haunches. The extended walk was very nice, the tempi changes were outstanding: straight and beautiful. In the extended canter he could be more uphill and over the back. Just like in the piaffe, the pirouettes showed that really taking the weight on the hindlegs is still tricky at this point. The canter pirouettes were big and not so balanced yet. Overall there could be a bit more lightness in the bridle, with Nuxoll keeping a handheld contact. The final passage on the centerline was amazing. 

Sandra Nuxoll and Bonheur de la Vie
Bred by G. Gijsbers in The Netherlands, the dark bay gelding was originally named Hugo Boss Plantium and owned the Indonesian Titan Wilaras before selling to Germany. The gelding was acquired at the 2014 Oldenburg Stallion Licensing in Vechta and arrived in Nuxoll's barn as a 2.5-year old. She trained him up to Grand Prix level with the help of coach Johnny Hilberath. 

This is Sandra's first Louisdor Cup title and she achieved it by staying 3% ahead of the competition.

"This has never happened to me," said Nuxoll in tears, crediting her horse for the success. "I like everything about him. He's super chique, he has the right mix of tension and relaxation. He wants to do everything right under saddle, he learns quickly."

Nuxoll is known to love the process of training a young horse to Grand Prix level, more so than competing at international Grand Prix level herself. Her last international start dates back to 2015. Sandra has preferred selling her horses for top money - her most recent ones being Destiny OLD (sold to Kristina Bröring-Sprehe) and Stand by Me (Lisa Müller) - instead of pursuing her own international career. It will be interesting to see if she will retain Bonheur de la Vie and try out for the Austrian Olympic team for Tokyo 2021. 

Denoix PCH Runner Up

Hubertus Schmidt and his charming 8-year old Oldenburg stallion Denoix PCH (by Destano x Pik Noir) were the runners-up with 74.360%.

Hubertus Schmidt on Denoix PCH
The 8-year old stallion is definitely one to watch for the future but he still appeared green in the Grand Prix work. The horse became sour when the task at hand was hard for him, yet in the easier work he showed much quality and pleasure. The medium trot and extended trot could have had more overstep and there was little difference between the two. The trot half passes were nice and elastic, there were big steps in the rein back. The extended walk did not have enough neck stretch and overtrack. The passage work showed promise but needed more collection and be closed in the frame. He seemed to cross the hind legs.  The piaffe revealed that the potential and quality is there, but now it was still very much on the forehand despite good activity and leg lift. Throughout the ride Denoix was not really reaching into the contact and taking the bit, but rolled himself to avoid connection.  The two tempi changes were secure, the ones downhill. In general the canter work needed more ground covering, the zig zag, in the changes. Denoix has all the ingredients for Grand Prix, but he needs a bit more time in the oven. 

Schmidt was thrilled with the second place, after winning the qualifier in Hagen at the beginning of June.

"He learns everything so quickly," said Schmidt about the stallion. "He's such a talented horse and you can't overwork them. You bring their talent to the fore. I'm super happy with him here. He had a long break and I only picked up shows again with him in June."

Denoix was licensed at the 2014 Oldenburg Stallion Licensing and acquired at auction by the Celle State Stud for 70,000 euro. He got named after the famous French veterinarian and lameness expert, Dr. Jean-Marie Denoix. Under Janina Tietze he was reserve champion at the 2016 Oldenburg Young Horse Championships in Rastede. American Nancy Gooding, a long-time sponsor of Hubertus Schmidt and heir to the Pepsi cola dynasty, purchased Denoix at the 2016 Oldenburg Autumn Elite Auction for 300,000 euro.

First Romance Third

Dorothee Schneider and Gabriele Kippert's 10-year old Baden Wurttemberger gelding First Romance (by Furst Romancier x Day Dream) landed third place with 73.220%

Dorothee Schneider on First Romance
The beautiful bay is also an example of a budding Grand Prix horse that needs a bit more to be confirmed at Grand Prix level. He showed a super halt at entry, anice reinback, but there could have been more lengthening of the frame for more ground cover in the trot extensions. The passage was electric yet not collected enough, the horse almost ran away. Also in the piaffe he still crept forward, avoiding taking weight by lowering the haunches. The horse brims with talent in all the movements, but today Schneider had to work hard to filter the tension out, for instance in the tempi changes and extended canter. There was a mistake in the changes in the zig zag. The horse got a big score from the judges despite all these issues, but he certainly had a great future ahead of him. 

"Today we had two mistakes in the zig zag, but overall he did a really nice Grand Prix," said Schneider. "He has a lot of eagerness. Our working point is his concentration, but I'm so happy to have him and that I can train, develop and compete him. He has limitless talent."

Schneider has been training First Romance from young horse level to Grand Prix. 

"He is 10 now and had a very long break because of injury," she sai. The pair's last international show was in Randboel in November 2018. "Everything is there, it just needs to stabilise and he needs to focus."

Quick Notes

Finnish Emma Kanerva and Gert Saborowki's 9-year old German sport horse bred Greek Air (by Gribaldi x Florestan) slotted in fourth with 73.120%. The chestnut Greek Air is not the most flashy horse with his straight legged way of moving, but in canter each stride is uphill and he certainly had the engine behind. The passage was not even though, with more left hindleg activity, and in the piaffes he crept forwards, but the extended walk had a very nice V-moment in the rhythm and the left pirouette was really lovely. 

Sandro Nuxoll qualified two horses for the Louisdor Cup Finals and with her 9-year old Oldenburg mare Hanami (by Dante Weltino x His Highness) she placed fifth with 72.860%. The very feminine looking mare produced lovely trot half passes, but hurried in the extensions. She had a nice silhouette and showed great potential in both piaffe and passage, but overall the self carriage is not as developed; with the rider supporting her very much still. The tempi changes were lovely and uphill. 

Uwe Schwanz and Hildegard Riedmaier's 9-year old Danish warmblood Rockson (by Rockefeller x Sorento) were sixth with 72.120%. The bay is a big mover, achieving lots of overtrack in the trot lengthenings, but his passage was not always even, with more right hind leg activity. In piaffe Rockson dropped on the forehand and one would wish for more spring off the ground. In the extended walk there could have been more overstep. 

Daniel Bachmann Andersen on Marschall Bell
Danish Daniel Bachmann Andersen brought Christian Vang Lauridsen's 8-year old Danish warmblood Marschall Bell (by Don Romantic x Michellino) to Germany for his second Louisdor Cup Finals. The sympathetic chestnut has a big engine behind but needs to be able to more with an uphill tendency. There was some unevenness in the trot extensions, but the half passes had good crossing of the legs. The piaffe was not really balanced with Marschall leaning on the shoulders and getting croup high. The extended walk had very good overtrack, but the rhythm could have been clearer.  In the passage he's very engaged behind. The tempi changes cover good ground, but are croup high. The right pirouette was lovely. After leaving Blue Hors stud, Daniel now has a talented young Grand Prix horse to develop in Marschall Bell. They scored 71.300% 

Lena Waldmann and Gestut Bonhomme's 10-year old KWPN stallion Grey Flanell (by Gribaldi x Clavecimbel) placed 8th with 70.460%. The black stallion showed a lovely passage, with good engagement of the hindlegs reaching under the body, although  he is not always as strong and regular yet. In piaffe he displayed great ability to sit, but the balance was not yet there as he got wide in front. The walk was good and he stayed clear in the collected walk. The trot extensions did not have the biggest ground cover and the tempi changes are still a bit flat, but although very sensitive and tense (the trembling lip revealed it) he was very obedient and listened to his rider.

Text by Astrid Appels - Photos © Stefan Lafrentz

Related Links
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Finalists for 2020 Louisdor Cup Known
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Previous Winners
Senta Kirchhoff and L'Arbuste, Surprise Winners of 2019 Louisdor Cup Finals for Developing Grand Prix Horses
Blue Hors Veneziano Wins 2018 Louisdor Cup Finals for Developing Grand Prix Horses
TSF Dalera BB Wins 2017 Louisdor Cup Finals for Developing Grand Prix Horses
Sammy Davis Jr Wins the 2016 Louisdor Cup Finals for German Developing Grand Prix Horses
Rothenberger and Cosmo Win 2015 Louisdor Cup Finals' Warm Up Class at 2015 CDI Frankfurt
Brigitte Wittig and Balmoral W Win 2013 Louisdor Cup
Thomas Wagner and Very Keen Win 2012 Louisdor Cup Finals
Diva Royal Wins 2011 Tesch Inkasso Cup for Upcoming Grand Prix Horses
Werth's El Santo NRW Wins 2010 Medien Cup Finals
Dablino Wins  2009 Medien Cup Finals
Carabas Wins 2008 Medien Cup Finals
Floresco Wins 2007 HKM Upcoming Grand Prix Horse Finals