The Dressage Queen, Isabell Werth, enchanting in the Deutsche Bank Prize

It is always said that dressage is complicated….

It is always said that dressage is complicated. When Isabell Werth won the Deutsche Bank Prize at the Aachen Soers for the eleventh time today, she made the fascination of dressage tangible with her Oldenburg-bred mare, Weihegold.

You could hear a pin drop when Isabell Werth and Weihegold entered the Deutsche Bank Stadium. Then, the sound of cheerful Italian pop melodies that accompany the freestyle routine of the two World Cup winners began and Weihegold started to dance. Dressage can be so simple: From the passage into the piaffe and back out again, back in, back out, totally in rhythm, one step like the next, totally relaxed. There is currently no other horse in the world that can match the quality of the Oldenburg-bred Don Schufro daughter in these movements. As Dr. Evi Eisenhardt, Chief Judge at C, explained: “My colleagues and I wished we could have awarded 11s and 12s today.” Among others, that is namely what they would have awarded for Weihegold and Werth’s transitions. The mare didn’t make a single mistake throughout the entire freestyle. The result: 89.675. After the final salute, the silence was broken. The crowd exploded and gave the six-time Olympic gold-medallist standing ovations. Werth confirmed after her ride: “I had a super feeling today. She was by me from the first to the last moment, we were in perfect harmony. I wanted to carry on where we left off at Omaha today (where she won the World Cup Final in the spring with the same freestyle routine, editor’s note) and I think we succeeded in doing so.”


Cosmo, the Flying Dutchman

Here, the judges also wished they could have awarded some even higher marks, namely when Sönke Rothenberger and his KWPN gelding, Cosmo, flew through the dressage arena in extended trot. The just 10-year-old Van Gogh son showed his full potential today, which comprises of much more than just his extended trot. Sönke Rothenberger: “I am delighted! Today, Cosmo demonstrated the extent of his potential for piaffe and passage!” And Sönke’s mother, Gonnelien, who among others won Olympic silver with the Dutch dressage team in 1996, confirmed this: “I think Cosmo demonstrated where he is headed, today.” Indeed the career of the 22-year-old and his 10-year-old gelding have already made a vertical take-off: From the Young Riders camp, to the first Grand Prix starts, through to the first team appearance at the CHIO 2016 and from their straight on to claiming team gold at the Olympic Games in Rio. Last year, the pair weren’t able to compete in the freestyle because they were ‘only’ the fourth best German pair. And now they delivered a score of 85.750 percent and came second in the Deutsche Bank Prize in 2017. Ahead of the rider, who finished fourth at the Olympic Games last year. One could say it has been a “cosmic” rise, whereby there is no end in sight.


Please come back next year!

Third place went to the challenger from overseas, Laura Graves with Verdades. The pair’s career is just as steep as Sönke Rothenberger and Cosmo’s. They competed at the Soers for the first time in 2014. Nobody knew them. Afterwards the former hairdresser, who gave up her job for her horse and her dream of riding on the international dressage circuit, was the talk of the town. And now, three years later she travelled to Aachen with a clear goal: To beat Isabell Werth! Yesterday she succeeded in doing so in the Grand Prix Spécial, the MEGGLE Prize. But today, this was not to be. The 15-year-old KWPN gelding by Florett As was very strong at the beginning, but then the mistakes started creeping in in the canter tour, which pushed the final score down to 82.550. Laura Graves wasn’t able to hide her disappointment, which was understandable! “I just hope that I will be invited back,” she joked during the Press Conference.

Flash Quotes

The Iberian peninsula triumphs in the LUMILEDS Prize

Despite the pouring rain, it was of all…

Despite the pouring rain, it was of all people the Southern Europeans who triumphed in the LUMILEDS Prize, the Grand Prix Freestyle of the I-Tour this evening. First and foremost, the bronze-medallist from the 2015 European Championships, Beatriz Ferrer-Salat.

It was quite a surprise when Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and the Westphalian-bred De Niro son, Delgado, claimed the bronze medal in the Freestyle at the European Championships here in Aachen in 2015. Today, the pair were the absolute favourites and they certainly did justice to this role. The music for her freestyle choreography was composed especially to show off the advantages of her chestnut gelding in the best light: His amazing trot tour and exceptional submissiveness. The Spanish rider who lives near to Barcelona presented all of her strengths this evening in spite of the pouring rain and was awarded a score of 78.275.

Second place went to a rider from her neighbouring country, Portugal’s Maria Caetano with the beautiful Lusitano Coroado (75.275). Jan-Dirk Gießelmann from Germany ranked third. His Real Dancer danced to a score of 75.125 to the melodies of Tom Jones.

The Austrian rider Belinda Weinbauer finished fourth with Söhnlein Brilliant MJ (74.975). During the performance of this pair, one got the impression that somebody had turned the tap on in the heavens above. It rained cats and dogs. But as Charlott-Maria Schürmann (fifth place) said: “We are pretty weatherproof. Burlington and I prefer the rain to humid, dry weather!” She had hoped her score would be a little higher than the 73.125 percent she was awarded. “But then we are here in Aachen and not on some field in Gelsenkirchen!”

WOTAX Prize goes to Anna Kasprzak

The Danish dressage rider, Anna Kasprzak and her…

The Danish dressage rider, Anna Kasprzak and her big hope for the future, Quarton, dominated the Small Tour at the CHIO Aachen 2017. As in the Prix St. Georges, they also took the victory in the Intermédiaire I, the WOTAX Prize.

Anna Kasprzak’s goal with Quarton is clear: “It is not going to stop here!” In other words: The 8-year-old Quaterback son is to become Kasprzak’s future Grand Prix horse. The Danish rider is convinced that he is made of the right material. “We have to get to know each other better at shows and there are a few small details we have to work on. But overall I already had a very good feeling today, everything was so easy and matter of course.” The judges were impressed too and awarded the pair a score of exactly 74 percent.

The dark chestnut is now going to have a well-earned break. Then, over the winter the project “Grand Prix” will gradually get underway. “Our aim is to compete in the first classes at that level next year, but first of all at small, national shows,” the Olympic rider noted. And then perhaps already at the CHIO Aachen in 2019.

Helen Langehanenberg’s plan with the Hanoverian-bred Belissimo M daughter, Brisbane, is very similar. The team World Champion has been riding the elegant chestnut mare for around a year. “She has very strong nerves and a very calm temperament,” is how Langehanenberg described the advantages of her horse. She is already qualified for the Final of the Nuremberg Burg Cup, which will take place in December. And after that Brisbane is also to start competing at the higher level, if everything goes to plan. The pair improved their performances this season from show to show and they crowned their first appearance at the CHIO Aachen today with a score of 73.763 – almost three percent more than in the Prix St. Georges. And that in the pair’s first ever Intermédiaire I class.

The Spanish rider Juan Matute Guimon came third with Dhannie Ymas (73.395). Beforehand, the just 19-year-old rider came second in the Grand Prix Freestyle of the U25 Tour with his second horse, Don Diego Ymas. He attracted the public’s attention for the time in 2015 when he surprisingly won the Junior European Freestyle Championship with Dhannie. Today, he beat the team Olympic gold-medallist, Kristina Bröring-Sprehe, with her aspirant for the future, Destiny OLD by Desperados (72.158).

Prize of the Liselott and Klaus Rheinberger Foundation – Anne Meulendijks scores a hat trick in the U25 Tour Anne Meulendijks travelled to

Aachen from the CHIO partner country in 2017…

Aachen from the CHIO partner country in 2017 as the Dutch Champion and with high expectations for the U25 dressage tour, the Prize of the Liselott and Klaus Rheinberger Foundation. Her high expectations were totally justified.

She participated in three competitions and won all three as well as claiming the title in the premiere of the U25 Dressage Nations’ Cup. More was certainly not possible for the 23-year-old Anne Meulendijks, on her first appearance at the Soers. Riding her 12-year-old United son, MDH Avanti, she put in a superior performance in the freestyle today, the Final of the U25 Tour, claiming a score of 78.20 percent.

Meulendijks and Avanti have already been a successful team for years. In 2013, they claimed team gold and fourth place in the individual classification at the European Championships of the Young Riders in Compiègne. In 2014, she picked up team silver and gold in the individual classification. The following year she moved into the U25 age group and has been rushing from victory to victory ever since. Today, she celebrated her eleventh victory in succession over the past months.

Second place in Aachen went to the just 19-year-old Juan Matute Guimon with Don Diego Ymas. The Spanish rider who is a very sensitive rider caught the public’s attention overnight in 2015 when he won the Freestyle at the European Championships of the Juniors in Vidauban. So the freestyle is obviously his strength. Today, the judges rewarded his performance with a score of 75.90 percent.

An eternal rival of the winner and her team colleague, Maxime van der Vlist, came third with Bailey. The pair came second in both of the previous competitions of the U25 Tour at the Soers (75.150). Today, however they were beaten by the Spanish rider.

The German trio ranked fifth, sixth and eleventh. Bianca Nowag was delighted at coming fifth with her former U21 European Champion in the Freestyle, the Fidermark daughter, Fair Play BB (72.225), followed by Juliette Piotrowski with Sir Diamond (70.975), and Lisa-Maria Klössinger and FBW Daktari (11th, 70.425).


Lambertz Nations’ Cup goes to Germany’s dressage riders, Laura Graves finally achieves her aim in the MEGGLE Prize

All good things come in threes – but…

All good things come in threes – but including the team classification, the Lambertz Nations’ Cup, it was actually number four for the Germans at the CHIO Aachen 2017. And just in time for her 30th birthday, Laura Graves was delighted to have finally achieved her aim, after many attempts.

In 2017, the Lambertz Nations’ Cup comprised of the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Spécial, the MEGGLE Prize. The Germans were already on course for success after the first part. And after the Spécial one could safely say: Mission accomplished. Isabell Werth with Weihegold, Sönke Rothenberger with Cosmo, Dorothee Schneider with Sammy Davis Jr. as well as Hubertus Schmidt with Imperio finished on a total score of 471.046 and thus left the US Americans (450.392) and the Swedes (437.635) trailing behind them.

The US team comprised of Adrienne Lyle/Savlino (73.608 percent), Kasey Perry-Glass/Goerklintgaards Dublet (71.608), Olivia Lagoy-Weltz/Lonoir and Laura Graves/Verdades (81.824). The following riders made up the Swedish team: Malin Nilsson/Bon-Ami (72.294), Juliette Ramel/Buriel K.H. (didn’t compete in the Spécial), Therese Nilshagen/Dante Weltino (74.784) and Patrik Kittle/Dalaunay (74.157).

“We have a strong and experienced team,” explained Germany’s Chef d’Equipe Klaus Roeser, who is used to winning. Even though not everything went quite as planned today. Untypically, Hubertus Schmidt’s Imperio had to make do with a score 69,451, after the horse pulled his head up after the extended trot – normally his best movement – and to add insult to injury Schmidt took the wrong course. Afterwards, it was Dorothee Schneider’s turn with Sammy Davis Jr. The beautiful black horse totally fulfilled all expectations after scoring 75.261, which meant sixth place in the individual classification of the MEGGLE Prize. Dorothee Schneider: “I must say that I am very proud of my horse: Four months ago he was an international nobody and now he is on the Nations’ Cup team here in Aachen.” Furthermore, the team Olympic gold-medallist was delighted that the 11-year-old Bavarian-bred San Remo son was much more relaxed in the impressive atmosphere of the Deutsch Bank Stadium. “He really fought for me today”.

The winners of the Grand Prix, Isabell Werth and Weihegold were the next to ride. It was the first Spécial for the Oldenburg-bred Don Schufro daughter after the Olympic Games in Rio. It is a well-known fact that the Freestyle decides the World Cup Final that she won in Omaha in the spring. Werth reported that she certainly became aware of this today. She made a mistake in the extended trot, the black mare moved into the first piaffe too hesitantly and then the pair made a huge mistake in the two-tempi flying-changes. Nevertheless, the judges awarded the pair a score of 81.059, which meant first place at that stage.

However, then came the challenger from overseas and she overtook the dressage queen. Laura Graves’ Verdades was in good form today. “He (Verdades, editor’s note) said today: “Ah, we are going right, I know it is the Grand Prix Spécial, mum!” After a more or less perfect ride the score on the display was 81.824 percent. Finally, the victory! “I have tried so often,” admittedly Graves honestly and added “That was pretty tiring!” Today, her horse gave her a wonderful birthday present.

That’s what Isabell Werth had said yesterday when her second best horse, Emilio, won the Lindt Prize. She explained why things didn’t go so well. “Well, Weihe didn’t say today when we turned right. Oh that’s what you want me to do, mum!” Instead she noticed that the mare hasn’t competed in a Spécial for a long time. “I noticed that the mare was unsure. We lacked the self-confidence we had in the Grand Prix.” Werth sincerely congratulated Laura Graves, but stated regarding tomorrow’s Freestyle, the concluding competition in the Deutsche Bank Prize, “I am sharp to win, too.”

Sönke Rothenberger rode in between Werth and Graves, as the last rider in the German team. He and his 10-year-old Cosmo got off to a strong start. But the KWPN gelding spooked during the walk tour. Then he marched through the diagonal quite relaxed. His rider wasn’t sure what had unnerved him. Further mistakes in the one-tempi flying changes and in the trot tour pushed his score down further. The end result was 78.314 percent and third place, but much more was possible. Rothenberger: “I am above all annoyed at myself. I wasn’t concentrated enough.” Asked whether he had celebrated too much. He replied “No, not all. Perhaps that was the problem!”

Emilio’s gift for Isabell Werth on her birthday: The victory in the Lindt Prize

The dressage queen, Isabell Werth, quite appropriately celebrated…

The dressage queen, Isabell Werth, quite appropriately celebrated her 48th birthday at the CHIO Aachen 2017: With a victory in the Lindt Prize, the Grand Prix Spécial.

One could congratulate Isabell Werth twice today, once on her birthday and once for winning the Lindt Prize with Emilio. Whereby when asked about her birthday by a daily newspaper, she totally played it down: “Where we come from in the country, it’s one cow or others birthday every day.” She is not only an excellent rider, she also has a wonderful sense of humour. And above all she is a real fighter. “Yes, we wanted to put the mistakes of Wednesday right,” the six-time Olympic gold-medallist stated openly. In the Grand Prix she and her Westphalian-bred Ehrenpreis son weren’t in the best of form and had to make do with second place. Today, everything ran smoothly, 78.275 percent. There were admittedly a few slightly rough edges here and there in the test, i.e. a not so harmonious flying-change. Whether that was because Emilio was frightened of his own shadow? “No, that was me, I was a little in front of the movement. It is a bit like with non-swimmers, where it is always down to the swimming trunks!”


The lucky bag

Second place went to the pair that won the Grand Prix, Helen Langehanenberg and Damsey FRH, who scored 76.686 percent. “I am overjoyed, not quite as speechless as yesterday, but delighted,” commented the team World Champion, whose overall Aachen 2017 balance was: “Much more than I had expected!” She has been riding the Hanoverian-bred stallion, Damsey, for one and a half years. And the pair continually improve. Where she thinks the journey will end? “Damsey is an absolute lucky bag. He never fails to surprise me. And I think in terms of his basic quality he has no limits.” All the more reason for looking forward to Aachen 2018!


The come-back

As in the Grand Prix, the Danish rider Anna Kasprzak came third with her 18-year-old Donnerhall son, Donnperignon. The dark chestnut had had a longer time-out and has celebrated his come-back here in Aachen. One doesn’t notice that he is already 18 at all. On the contrary, some people say they have never seen the Finnish-bred gelding in such good form. The pair was awarded a score of 74.824.

The Quadrille team from Neuss wins the Prize of Handwerk

The equestrian athletes from Neuss have been extremely…

The equestrian athletes from Neuss have been extremely successful at the CHIO 2017. After the vaulting group from RSV Neuss-Grimlinghausen won the Nations’ Cup last weekend, today the quartet from the Neuss District Club claimed the victory in the Aachen Quadrille Championships, the Prize of Handwerk.

Together with their team leader, Anja Mede, Kahra Alena Baumann with Dance with me, Kerstin Lehmann with Hermanito, Anke Roeb with Waldero‘s Dream and Sabrina Stocks with Filou le Bon were able to enjoy the unique opportunity of having the golden ribbon clipped onto their double bridles in the Deutsche Bank Stadium at the Aachen Soers. The judges awarded the team a total score of 17.5 points, 8.0 for the technical execution and a 9.5 for artistic performance.

Only two tenths of a point separated the winners from the runners-up. Second place went to the Krefeld District Club comprising of Christina Dahl/Las Vegas, Nicole Louven/Laurino, Angela Bißels/Faunus and Simone Weichert/Copyright, led by Tanja Liepack.

Third place was more or less a home game for the Aachen District Club, under the direction of Dr. Sandra Schermesser. Jennifer Bücken/Don Destillo, Katrin Sophie Lüthke/Bentley R, Ricarda Mombach/Imero and Monique Breuer/Djamilo achieved a total score of 16.3.

The result of the title holders, the Wesel District club under the aegis of Helmi Abeck was rather surprising. Abeck and her team are specialists in riding quadrilles. Last year the riding instructress admitted that she can’t remember how often they had won the Prize of Handwerk at the CHIO. This time they had to make do with fourth place after finishing on a score of 16.2 points. In 2018 they will no doubt be after a revenge!

Holland’s Anne Meulendijks unbeaten at her Aachen debut in the U25 Prize of the Liselott and Klaus Rheinberger Foundation

The Dutch rider, Anne Meulendijks, already headed the…

The Dutch rider, Anne Meulendijks, already headed the field in the Intermédiaire II, in the Prize of the Liselott and Klaus Rheinberger Foundation 2017, the U25 tour in the dressage arena at the CHIO Aachen. Today, she picked up a further gold ribbon in the Grand Prix of the series.

The CHIO 2017 is the just 24-year-old Anne Meulendijks’ premiere at the Soers. What is it like? “Thrilling”, “exciting”, “overwhelming”, “incredible” – the adjectives the National Champion from CHIO’s partner country, used to describe her feelings, thoughts and impressions, were endless. In spite of the overpowering experience, Anne demonstrated nerves of steel. Together with her 12-year-old KWPN gelding, MDH Avanti, she had already contributed significantly towards the Dutch victory in the first U25 Nations’ Cup at the CHIO Aachen in the Intermédiaire II. Today, the pair’s performance was even more impressive. The judges awarded them a score of 72.279 percent. What were Anne’s tactics? “To do everything exactly the same as always. We need our routine.” This evidently includes standing as far right as possible during the prize-giving ceremony. Anne hadn’t expected to win today, but she had certainly hoped she would.

However, it was a close victory. As in the Intermédiaire II, with her Negro son, Bailey, Maxime van der Vlist was close at Meulendijks’ heels. Her score: 72.233 percent. Denise Nekeman came third with Boston STH (71.236 percent), which meant the top three rankings all went to Holland. So to say, the young ladies confirmed their Nations’ Cup victory once again.

The three German riders, Lisa Maria Klössinger with Daktari, Bianca Nowag with Fair Play BB and Juliette Piotrowski with Sir Diamond claimed fourth (69.721), fifth (69.256) and sixth place (68.721), respectively.

German dressage riders superior in the Prize of the Tesch Family

Round one in the Lambertz Dressage Nations’ Cup,…

Round one in the Lambertz Dressage Nations’ Cup, the Grand Prix in the battle for the Prize of the Tesch Family, was a clear matter. It was impossible to beat Werth & co.

“We are extremely satisfied,” was the conclusion of Germany’s national dressage coach, Monica Theodorescu, after the Prize of the Tesch Family, the first classification in the Lambertz Dressage Nations’ Cup. No wonder, her team has a huge lead. An analysis of the day in telegramme style: As the first team member to ride, Dorothee Schneider laid a good foundation with Sammy Davis Jr. – it was his debut appearance in Aachen (74.529 percent). Hubertus Schmidt and Imperio were rather unlucky and didn’t perform as well as expected (71.371). Sönke Rothenberger and Cosmo just missed the 80 percent mark, because the rider had a problem counting the strides (78.757) and Isabell Werth put in a performance with Weihegold that she simply described as “tip top!” (83.171 percent).

Thus, the interim overall score of the leading favourites before the MEGGLE Prize, the Grand Prix Spécial on Saturday, is 236.457. They are followed by the USA on a score of 222.842, for whom Aachen is the highlight of the season. The US team comprises of Adrienne Lyle/Salvino (71.814 percent), Kasey Perry-Glass/Goerklintgaards Dublet (68.929), Olivia Lagoy-Weltz/Lonoir (71.514) and Laura Graves with Verdades (79.514).

The Danish team currently lies in third place with an overall interim score of 218.457. Riding for Denmark are Daniel Bachmann Andersen/Blue Hors Don Olymbrio (68.614 percent), Anders Dahl/Selten HW (68.886), Agnete Kirk Thinggaard/Jojo AZ (72.157) and Cathrine Dufour/Cassidy (77.414).

Advantage Werth

The individual classification went to Isabell Werth, ahead of the US American, Laura Graves. The latter, who came second in the World Cup in Omaha, had announced in the run-up to the CHIO that her aim is to beat Isabell Werth. The first attempt failed among others because of the two-tempi flying changes. Graves’ concise comment: “We will try again in the Grand Prix Spécial!” Mistakes simply happen. That is part of the sport.”

Isabell Werth was totally happy with her ride. She said small errors had been down to her. But above all she is proud of “Weihe” alias Weihegold, who she had given a time-out after her victory in this year’s World Cup Final and for whom Aachen is the first outdoor show. “She was absolute focused.” Her conclusion: This is how it can continue!

Sönke Rothenberger came third. He wasn’t far off the 80 percent mark with his ten-year-young KWPN gelding, Cosmo. If the rider had practised the rein-back he might actually have hit the 80-mark, the national coach noted with a grin. And then the team Olympic gold-medallist miscounted the strides in the zig-zag half-passes. “That is doubly annoying, because the marks for this exercise count double,” stated Rothenberger. On the other hand, there were some absolute highlights in his test, i.e. the one-tempi flying changes, which several judges awarded him a 10 for.

Talking about judges – in her capacity as Chairman of the Judging Committee, Isobel Wessels (GBR) commented that it had been a “most phenomenal day” for her and the other judges, on which even the weaker performances had had their highlights and that overall the modern, harmonious style of riding is winning through. And that in an almost sold-out stadium.

Flash Quotes

Tear-filled triumph in the HAVENS Horsefeed Prize

Helen Langehanenberg is familiar with that feeling when…

Helen Langehanenberg is familiar with that feeling when the German national anthem is played for her in the Deutsche Bank Stadium in Aachen. She experienced it often enough with Damon Hill. However, she was simply speechless when it happened again today. And it brought not only tears to her eyes.

Helen Langehanenberg is back in the fast lane in the dressage arena, admittedly not just since today. But as she said herself: “Winning in Aachen is always something very special!” Her new horse for the big tours is the Hanoverian-bred stallion, Damsey FRH. She has been riding the Dressage Royal son for a year and a half. Since then they have continually improved, “with a few ups and downs,” as the rider commented, but always with an upward trend. Today, is the crowning glory so far. Or to put in the words of Damsey’s American owner, Louise Leatherdale – who also had to contain her tears – “This was perfection!”

Indeed, the Team World Champion and the elegant dark bay stallion delivered a wonderfully, harmonious ride, without any mistakes and full of esprit. The judges awarded the pair a score of 75.9 percent. The Olympic gold-medallist, Heike Kemmer, called over to Helen as she walked by: “I would have given you 78 percent!” The rider herself was in the meantime as good as speechless. Her cheeks were shining. “I came here with the intention of riding to win. And he played along so well and fought so hard for me… I am so proud of him and how we have come together so well!” The next goal is obvious: To deliver a similar performance again on Friday in the Grand Prix Spécial, the Lindt Prize.

Langehanenberg’s victory was all the more significant, because she relegated the dressage queen personally into second place: Isabell Werth with the Westphalian-bred Emilio. Whereby the six-time Olympic gold-medallist made extremely costly mistakes in both the two-tempi and one-tempi flying changes. As a result, the pair who are so used to victory, had to make do with second place. The unbiased members of the judging panel awarded the pair a score of 75.040 percent.

The Danish rider, Anna Kasprzak, was delighted at coming third with a score of 74.320 percent. Not only because of the placing, but also because her in the meantime 18-year-old Donnerhall son celebrated a come-back here in Aachen after a long period of injury. He had to have several teeth taken out. Now he is back again. And in what form! Donnperignon seems to be rather like a red wine – the more mature the better!