Werth and Wendy Seal the Deal in the 2024 CDIO Aachen 5* GP Special on Four Seasons Day

Sun, 07/07/2024 - 01:11
2024 CDIO Aachen
Isabell Werth and Wendy in the drizzling rain during the GP Special at the 2024 CDIO Aachen :: Photo © Astrid Appels

- Text © Eurodressage (this article expresses Eurodressage's' eye-witness account and opinion about the competition)

Isabell Werth and the 10-year old Danish mare Wendy were the winners of the 5* Grand Prix Special at the 2024 CDIO Aachen on Saturday afternoon 6 July 2024. 

A group of 30 riders qualified for the Special via Thursday's 5* Grand Prix class and were faced with interesting weather conditions all day, being delivered pretty much all four seasons in a six-hour time frame: hot, cold, windy, and wet. It was all on the menu today and part of the fantastic competition that took centre stage in a sold out Deutsche Bank stadium.

Seal the Deal

Isabell Werth sealed the deal today, i.e. securing a spot on the German Olympic team for Paris, where she is set to ride her seventh Olympics in her career. After winning the Grand Prix and beating two rivals for a team spot on Thursday, she underlined her authority again today with an even better ride and second win of the week. 

Werth and Wendy
Werth and Wendy (by Sezuan x Soprano) entered in an extremely collected canter (6.5 - 8.5). They rode fluent trot half passes and extended trots that showed improved overtrack compared to the Grand Prix Special. The extensions now correctly earned a 7.5 while on Thursday they were massively overscored by the judges. The passage work was still a little of a mixed bag: first lacking ground cover, at times lacking carriage and collection from behind (on the right lead), but then gradually improving and becoming better and better (passage in between piaffes). The piaffes were on the spot and also got more secure in the rhythm throughout the test but the pi-pa work remains slightly crooked to the right. The extended walk had plenty of overtrack and good clarity of rhythm. The two tempi changes were big, the changes to the right in the one tempi's were shorter. The pirouette left was a bit flat, there was a mistake in the ones on the centerline (4 - 5), the pirouette right was small but could improve in elasticity (7.5 - 8.5). The final piaffe at X had a super rhythm, despite being wide behind  and she lost a bit of steam in the final passage strides before the square end halt. The ride looked clearly more calibrated than two days ago.

The judges panel, consisting of Mariette Sanders-van Gansewinkel, Henning Lehrmann, Magnus Ringmark, Michael Osinski, Isobel Wessels, rewarded the ride with 78.085%. Ringmark had them even at 79.1% while the others were more 77.5% oriented.

Another Aachen win for Werth
“I must really say Wendy was fantastic today. We are growing day by day. You can see it, you can feel it. We really feel home together," said a beaming Werth at the press conference. "There was one detail on the centerline. I was too quick before the one tempi's. This is our fourth Special together."

Werth was always adamant about producing her horses from young horse level to Grand Prix, but with Wendy she pulled a 180° turn and accepted a ready Grand Prix horse in the barn. "I am thankful to Andreas (Helgstrand) that I got a horse that was great to start with. Now we improve the technique."

Eurodressage questioned the ownership situation of Wendy. Danish co-owner Bolette Wandt replied that she and Madeleine Winter-Schulze are the owners (although she did not disclose if it was a 50-50% deal) and that Andreas Helgstrand is no longer involved in the ownership of the horse, despite him being registered as a co-owner on the FEI passport.  Wandt, who used Helgstrand as her consultant for equine investments, bought the mare as a 3-year old after she won a gold medal at the 2017 Danish warmblood elite mare show. She suggested that Helgstrand never co-owned the horse, but she allowed him to sign name as co-owner on paper as a courtesy.

Dinja Surges to Second Place

Dutch Dinja van Liere surged to a second place and got sandwiched by two Germans in the top three.  Aboard Dutch horse dealer Eugene Reesink's 9-year old Hanoverian Vita di Lusso (by Vitalis x Weltano) she posted 76.872% for a second place finish.

A packed stadium watches Dinja van Liere
Vita di Lusso was bred in Madrid by Sandaraca Vince SL, a company behind Javier Bacariza and Cristina Danguillecourt of Yeguada de Ymas.  He sold as a 3-year old to Alfonso Ramirez and won silver at the 2019 Spanish Young Horse Championships in the 4-year old division before selling to Reesink in November 2019. His original name was Lemarc De Ymas.

Dinja has been riding the horse for three years and debuted at Grand Prix level in December 2023. They also showed considerable improvement from Thursday's Grand Prix. The spicy bay gelding showed a fantastic left trot half pass and ground covering extensions, even though Van Liere stood in the stirrups and leaned back in the saddle in each corner to collect him. The extended walk had two hooves overstep and was relaxed, but the horse could march more from the shoulder. The first piaffe was a bit unbalanced and in passage he could step under more with the hindlegs, but he was active, energetic and willing. The two's were straight, the ones lacked ground cover,  Overall it was a bubbly ride in which the lightness and self carriage needs to be more established. 

Dinja and Vita di Lusso
"I'm blown away by my horse. He's still young but developing so quickly," said Dinja. "Today he was way better. He is such a nice and willing horse, he always wants to work. Now we need more relaxation in the arena so I can ride him forward instead of coming back."

Vita di Lusso has now overtaken Dinja's second horse, Hartsuijker, in his upward trending score. Hartsuijker is selected as her reserve horse for the 2024 Olympics. Hermes is her number one.

"Pull Yourself Together"

For German Frederic Wandres the 2024 CDIO Aachen as second and German Olympic team selection trial have been a mental hurdle of great magnitude. With a life-time dream and goal on the horizon - the Olympic Games - and trying to get qualified for one of the toughest countries in the world, Wandres has to play hard ball to make it.

Frederic Wandres on Bluetooth
After being the third ranked German in the Grand Prix, the slightly more safe feeling of having a spot on the team vaporized and Wandres and the 14-year old Oldenburg gelding Bluetooth (by Bordeaux x Riccione) had to give it their all today. The odds were slightly against them as he was the rider facing a serious downpour of rain in his test, but he persevered. The halt at entry was not entirely perfect, but the trot extensions had plenty of lengthening in the stride and the passage was always engaged from behind. The extended walk had two hooves overstep and good rhythm, but the nose could have come more out. The second piaffe was nice with the nose in front of the vertical and climbing. The two tempi changes went well, but in the ones the rider swung in the saddle to make them happen. The ones on the centerline were more fluent. In the pirouette right the horse jumped with the hindlegs together, but the left one was bette. The piaffe at X was the best one in rhythm and on the spot, though slightly wide behind. They rode a strong final centerline. 

Frederic and Bluetooth
The judges gave them 76.851% for third place with the individual marks going from 75.426 % to 79.043%.

"I'm very happy," a relieved Wandres said at the press conference. "For me it was more a mental game. There was a lot of tension because of the German team selection. It started weeks ago in Balve. At some shows you go in the flow but in this show, I started with Duke and had a mistake and I took that with me on Bluetooth. I lost a little confidence. Today I wanted to impress the judges and the selectors. Isabell gave me one sentence, three words in fact, yesterday that helped me a lot: "pull yourself together". "

When asked how he is going to feel if he hears that he is selected, Frederic replied, "the Olympics are a lifetime achievement and goal for me. I want the pressure gone and breathe out and present myself with confidence." Isabell Werth, who rode at seven Olympics, quipped: "Then the next pressure comes."

Crowd Favourite Klimke

Ingrid Klimke is a clear crowd favourite in Germany. Aside from her outstanding classical riding, in dressage and eventing, she is also excellent in her media and PR management with a team behind her. Her good reputation is soaring and her riding very much liked as it presents a classical lightness and correctness not often seen in the arena. 

Ingrid Klimke on Franziskus
Her loyal horse, Wilhelm Holkenbrink's 16-year old Hanoverian stallion Franziskus (by Fidertanz x Alabaster), has gained popularity throught the hashtag #tanzmitFranz, for instance. In the Grand Prix the pair placed second with a very appealing ride. Unfortunately they could not reproduce that same form in the Special with mistakes in the two tempi lines (which did not go noticed by all judges: scores for the ones on the diagonal were between 5 and 8.5 and on the centerline between 5 and 9 (9 from the judge at C, so hardest to see)). In the half pass left and passage at the start of the test the horse dropped in the poll, but the trot extensions were ground covering. In passage "Franz" does not always show sufficient engagement and carrying power from behind, particularly on the right lead. The extended walk had plenty of overtrack. In the first piaffe he rounded his back and almost gave a mini buck, the second piaffe was better. At all times the contact with the bit was soft and elastic. The two tempi changes were fluent.  The final centerline was neat. 

They scored 74.596% for fourth place. 

Quick Notes

Nadja Aaboe Sloth on Favour Gersdorf
Danish Nadja Aaboe Sloth is having a sensational week in Aachen, achieving better form than ever on her 11-year old Danish warmblood gelding Favour Gersdorf (by Foundation x Leandro). In the Special they got a personal best of 74.170% and placed fifth.

The judges were thrilled with Marieke van der Putten's ride on the 12-year old Danish bred Torveslettens Titanium (by Totilas x Stedinger) and gave it 74.021%. The dark bay gelding trots rather mechanically and does not truly stretch in the top line or properly lengthen the strides and frame in the extensions, but in the collected work he's quick on his feet and can sit in the piaffe. 

- Text and Photos © Eurodressage (this article expresses Eurodressage's' eye-witness account and opinion about the competition)  

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Related Links
Scores: 2024 CDIO Aachen
Team Germany Makes it a One-Two-Three in the 2024 CDIO Aachen 5* Grand Prix