Nations’ Cup victory goes to Germany II with Jedi power, cat charm and Alice in Wonderland

Team Germany II won the Nations’ Cup of…

Team Germany II won the Nations’ Cup of the Vaulters in the Prize of Sparkasse, the first “international” at the CHIO Aachen 2017. A victory after a clear declaration!

The national coach of the vaulters, Ulla Ramge and her colleague Kai Vorberg, were able to sit back and relax today. The German teams were their own mutual biggest rivals in the Nations’ Cup of the Prize of Sparkasse. In the end, Germany II asserted themselves against Germany I. Kristina Boe, who represented the winning team as an individual vaulter, hit the nail on the head: “This year the teams were very even, which is why we already declared that we were going to fight hard yesterday.”

A statement that seems to have given Boe and her colleagues from Team Germany II, Janika Derks and RSV Neuss-Grimlinghausen, a further boost. All of the athletes were able to further improve their performances of the previous day. Janika Derks danced through her routine nimbly and with precision, totally in line with her motto “The life of a cat”. And Kristina Boe alias Rey out of Star Wars? Yes, the power was with her, when she completed her extremely difficult programme without a mistake and in perfect harmony with the music.

And then came RSV Neuss-Grimlighausen with “Alice in Wonderland”. Yesterday, the young team from Neuss that has only been working together for a year, were beaten by their local rivals from Rhineland, Team NORKA from VV Köln-Dünnwald. Today, the team performed as if they had been unleashed, they risked everything and won everything. The score from the judges: 9.035. World-class. With a total score of 26.608 Germany II left their fellow competitors from their own country trailing behind. The judges really were spoilt for choice between excellent performances at the highest possible level of sport. The public voting sponsored by SAP demonstrated how difficult the jury’s task was. Sometimes the spectators, the majority of whom were experts, found the performances better, sometimes the judges.

Germany I also put in an absolutely convincing performance. Sarah Kay and Erik Oese, who represented Germany I as the individual vaulters, were able to outdo their performances of the day before. Team NORKA performed more spectacularly and athletically than ever before, but weren’t quite able to match yesterday’s score.  In the end, Germany II’s score on the display was 26.212, second place. “Yes, we are a little bit disappointed,” admitted Justin van Gerven, one of the four male vaulters of Team NORKA. “But at the end of the day, we still delivered a top performance and it was minor details that separated us.”

The words of the national coach, Ulla Ramge, may have consoled him: “All of them demonstrated that they have nerves of steel. The atmosphere here at the CHIO Aachen is incomparable to any other show in the world. Anyone who performs well here, performs well everywhere.” And everyone was good today! The same also applies for the Italian team that finished third. They were represented by the individual vaulters Francesco Bortoletto and Anna Cavallaro and by Team C.I.M. Italy. Their overall score was 25.531.

This brought the first CHIO Aachen weekend to a close and the Show Director, Frank Kemperman, can be more than satisfied with the result – great sport, a sold-out stadium on both Saturday and Sunday, 30,000 visitors on the open day on “Soers Sunday” and two sold-out Horse and Symphony concerts. That whets our appetite for more over the coming days!

Shop-window Competition 2017: With windmills, clogs and Karli on the way to victory

No, Aachen didn’t become part of the Netherlands…

No, Aachen didn’t become part of the Netherlands over the past weeks. Even if one could have got that impression. Because many shop-windows in the city and around the region of Aachen are flying the flag of our direct neighbours.

And naturally that of the World Equestrian Festival (July 14th-23rd) too. The inhabitants of Aachen know immediately what is going on: The shop-window competition that gets everyone in the mood for the biggest equestrian sport event in the world prior to and during the CHIO Aachen, has begun. In this way, year after year visitors from near and far can enjoy the equestrian sport passion that is also shared by the business world.

This year, the shop-window competition took place for the 25th time. 70 shops followed the invitation of the initiators the Zeitungsverlag Aachen, MAC (City Market & Campaign Committee e.V.), the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein e.V. and the City of Aachen, to take on this creative challenge. The result: Lots of colourful shop-windows, where not only horse figures, horseshoes, bales of straw and the CHIO Aachen mascot Karli could be found, but of course also – in true Dutch style – windmills, clogs, tulips and even a “real” Frau Antje. It was thus no easy task to choose the best shop-window. The winners in the two categories were announced during a champagne reception in the Drivers’ Club during Soers Sunday. “Brille am Jahnplatz” convinced the jury and took first prize, in the public voting the winner was “Glance Hairstyling”.

The prizes were awarded by Stefanie Peters, ALRV Supervisory Board Member; the Lord Mayor Marcel Philipp; Manfred Piana, Executive Director of the City Market & Campaign Committee e.V.; Bernd Mathieu, Chief Editor of the Zeitungsverlag Aachen, as well as Alexandra Behle, Publishing Director at Super Sonntag. And of course the popular CHIO Aachen mascot, Karli, was also there to congratulate the elated winners, supported this year by Carlo Klever, the mascot of the Zeitungsverlag Aachen. To commemorate the anniversary, the City Market & Campaign Committee raffled off a voucher for the Ratskeller, which went to Martello Immobilienmanagement GmbH & Co. KG.

The individual rankings:

Jury Prize:

1st Place: Brille am Jahnplatz

2nd Place: Glance Hairstyling

3rd Place: I & M Mietservice & Containerdienst

4th Place: Martello Immobilienmanagement GmbH & Co. KG

5th Place: Verkaufsatelier Kunstvoll

Public Prize:

1st Place: Glance Hairstyling (22.17 percent)

2nd Place: Brille am Jahnplatz (18.29 percent)

3rd Place: Quality Brands GmbH (14.77 percent)

“Fratelli d‘Italia” in the Pas de Deux

For the first time, the anthem “Unity and…

For the first time, the anthem “Unity and Justice and Freedom” didn’t ring out at the CHIO Aachen 2017. The victory in the Pas de Deux went to the favourites from Italy, the World Cup winners, Silvia Stopazzini and Lorenzo Lupacchini.

There was a fantastic atmosphere in the Albert-Vahle Hall when Silvia Stopazzini and Lorenzo Lupachhini began dancing on the back of Rosenstolz to Latino rhythms! “It was on the cards that the pair were going to put in a strong performance,” the national coach, Ulla Ramge, revealed, who wasn’t at all disappointed that her protégés didn’t win the Prize of Sparkasse in the Pas de Deux competition. “It is good for the sport!”

Indeed, together with their lunger, Laura Carnabuci, Silvia Stopazzini and Lorenzo Lupacchini put in a top performance: They were awarded 9.590 twice for their technical performance, a 9.290 for the artistic performance, which together with the score for the horse added up to an overall score of 8.933. The result meant the victory in this competition and also in the overall classification of the Prize of Sparkasse (8.757). Whereby the two acrobats weren’t even one hundred percent satisfied with their performance: “There were a few things we have to improve,” they admitted, for example the coordination to the very fast-paced music. They were nevertheless still delighted. Especially since they have only been together as a pair (in the sport) for a year, which means it was also their first joint victory at the CHIO Aachen.

Second and third place went to Germany. Whereby Torben Jacobs and Theresa-Sophie Bresch took it in turns with Jolina Ossenberg-Engels and Timo Gerdes. Jacobs and Bresch came second in round one with Holiday on Ice (Lunger: Alexandra Knauf) and third in the second freestyle. Ossenberg-Engels and Gerdes did it the other way round on Caram (Lunger: Claudia Döller-Ossenberg-Engels). In the end, Torben Jacobs and Theresa-Sophie Bresch achieved a slightly higher score with their “Bonnie and Clyde” freestyle routine. They collected 8.473 points, Ossenberg-Engels and Timo Gerdes finished on a score of 8.448. “Torben and Theresa competed with a reserve horse,” reported Ulla Ramge. “Timo and Jolina have a completely new horse and their performance is currently improving from competition to competition. So, we have every reason to be satisfied!”

The Austrian duo, Theresa Thiel and Stefan Csandl, came fourth with Crossino (Lunger: Karin Böhmer). In 2016, the pair enchanted the crowd with their Sissi freestyle choreography and claimed the victory. This year they placed their bets on animal jungle sounds, but weren’t able to repeat their previous year performances. The pair from the alpine country was awarded a score of 8.252.

The contender

Who, if not Laura Graves? The US dressage…

Who, if not Laura Graves? The US dressage rider is one of the few, actually perhaps the only rider, who one wouldn’t put it pass knocking the dressage superstar Isabell Werth from her throne. And that is exactly the goal the 29-year-old has set herself with her exceptional horse, “Verdades”. We visited her while training in Belgium and asked her what she thinks about Isabell Werth, what makes the CHIO Aachen the CHIO Aachen and why she had to urgently visit a music shop the first time she competed in Aachen.

You and your horse’s story is extraordinary…
Graves: He was an absolute lucky strike. He came to me as a foal, he was six months old. We only bought him based on a video and now he has made me what I am today. Last year, he carried me to an Olympic bronze medal, to the World Cup Final, we have competed at the World Championships together and now I am training for the World Championships next year.

Your own story is also different to that of most of the top riders…
Graves: It is easy if you are born into a family, whose life already revolves around horses. That is not so in my case and yet horses have always been part of me ever since I was born. They are in my soul. Nobody else in my family rides competitively and yet I already knew from a young age that I need horses around me.

Where do you see your sporting career going? The next World Championships are in your home country.
Graves: It is fantastic that we are staging the World Championships next year. It is a great honour for us to host these championships in North America. The fans will be behind us, the stadiums will be sold-out. Any opportunity to represent my country is unique. I have succeeded in making it onto the team here in Aachen, now I just hope I will also be nominated for the World Championships team next year.

You have come to Aachen as the number four in the world ranking list. What are your expectations? The US Chef d’Equipe, Robert Dover, said: “Laura is really sharp to win.”
Graves: (laughing) I’m always sharp to win, whether that happens is a different matter altogether. We train hard and have come to Aachen in top form. Anything less would be inacceptable for Aachen. And of course we would love to take the victory. I know they are going to be tough competitions, but that is precisely what makes us perform better.

Who do you see as your biggest rival?
Graves: Without a doubt: Isabell, she is number one in the world ranking list. It is a shame that the two other German riders who rank second and third (Kristina Bröring-Sprehe and Dorothe Schneider, editor’s note), can’t compete. That is quite disappointing for me, because I would like to compete against the best opponents at the best show. We’ll have to wait and see what the actual outcome is, Catherine Dufour also put in a super performance at the Danish Championships. One thing is for sure: It is going to be an exciting show for the spectators.

How do you rate Isabell Werth’s performances in comparison to the last years?
Graves: No comparison can be made there. She hasn’t just got one horse she is successful with. Because of the way she rides she succeeds in schooling one horse after another up to top level sport. She demonstrates incredible precision in the dressage arena – by the way I try to copy this in my daily training.

What could perhaps make the difference between you and the other riders?
Graves: Verdades and I have a special connection. We have been together since we were children. He will never say “no”, if I ask him to do something. Not every horse is like that, he is incredibly unselfish. If it comes to the crunch, that could ultimately make the difference.

How do you rate the US team’s chances?
Graves: We have a very strong team this year. I am in the meantime more or less the old hand in our young team. We have two new horses competing this year, they are all very strong and are capable of scoring over 75 percent. But at the end of the day we have to actually perform well on the day.

You are here in Aachen at the moment, you prepared for the show in Belgium. What do you miss most here in Europe?
Graves: I miss my dogs – and my boyfriend. It is always hard being away from the family, from the children – or in my case the dogs and the horses (laughs). The fantastic thing about Europe though is the fact that horses are part of life here. I am here with my trainer, Debbie McDonald, and I am very focused on improving my performance, that is what it is all about.

You already know the CHIO Aachen – how did you find the atmosphere?
Graves: I have only ridden in Aachen once, that was in 2014, my first Grand Prix year. It was so motivating, the best riders in the world compete at the best show in the world here. It is very exciting to have been invited to compete again.

Why is it competing at the CHIO Aachen so exciting?
Graves: The history of the show is incredible, it is not comparable with any other show in the world. Everything is world-class. That starts with the stables and ends with the perfect way one looks after us riders. Not to mention the spectators! They are so knowledgeable and know what our sport is all about. Dressage is a complex discipline. It is not like jumping where you know: The pole fell so the rider picks up faults. One can see how much expertise the spectators have from how well they use the “Judging-App” that the CHIO organisers offer. It is nice to see how our sport has established itself here. That really is a great feeling!

And the music was missing when you competed for the first time in Aachen
Graves: Oh yes! I remember that all too well! I was actually supposed to be preparing for my competition, but everything was so impressive, I just kept looking to the left and to the right. For example, Charlotte Dujardin was also competing. After a while my trainer said: Right Laura, a little more concentration, please! But I was so haywire, I could hardly ride. Somehow or other I managed to qualify for the freestyle, but I hadn’t prepared anything, didn’t have any music either. So we drove into the city and looked for music in a small shop and had it burnt onto a CD on the spot.

The CHIO way: Aachen says “Bye bye” to Kazem Abdullah

At the end, the Aachen crowd bid farewell…

At the end, the Aachen crowd bid farewell to their General Music Director in the appropriate Aachen fashion: Waving a hanky to the sound of “Muss I denn…”.

The “Horse & Symphony” concert at the CHIO Aachen on Saturday evening was the final performance of the General Music Director Kazem Abdullah as conductor of the Aachen Symphony Orchestra before his ultimate departure from Aachen.

And what a farewell it was! The conductor didn’t simply leave the podium for his dressing room as usual, he did a lap of honour through the arena riding in a carriage pulled by four magnificent grey horses. “Muss I den” rang through the traditional showgrounds a week earlier than usual and more than 6,000 people in the sold-out Deutsche Bank Stadium waved goodbye to him with white handkerchiefs.

“All of those people waving their hankies, that really moved me. The organisers brought forward a Farewell of the Nations ceremony especially for me, what an honour and a huge gesture,” said a visibly moved Kazem Abdullah in his dressing room underneath the Deutsche Bank Stadium afterwards. “Your passion is music, our passion is horses – in the scope of the Horse & Symphony concert we unite the two in a wonderful way.” Frank Kemperman, Chairman of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein (ALRV) and ALRV President Carl Meulenbergh bid a hearty farewell to Abdullah, who thanked them just as warmly: “The farewell this evening was incredible and wonderful. I am very fond of this city, its inhabitants and fantastic events like the CHIO. I am very proud that I had the honour of being part of the CHIO Aachen for the past 5 years in the scope of the “Horse & Symphony”.”

He can still recall his early days at the Soers very well: “I can remember how it was when I first heard about the ‘Horse & Symphony’: What’s that then, I asked myself. With horses? Sounds cool. This evening my sincere gratitude goes to Frank Kemperman and Carl Meulenbergh and the entire fantastic team of the CHIO Aachen for this magnificent and moving farewell.”

He already has plans for the coming months. First of all he is going to enjoy the CHIO Aachen 2017: “I will watch many of the competitions and also attend the Media Night on Tuesday evening.” Kazem Abdullah is staying in Aachen until the end of July, then he is travelling to the USA first of all before moving to Nuremberg in August. This is where his new base is going to be, “but I will be travelling a lot. For example, several guest performances in the USA have been agreed, for instance in Miami, South Carolina and New York. I already have a lot of commitments, so I will be very busy initially.”

And right at the end he promised to at least remain loyal to the World Equestrian Festival as a visitor: “Perhaps we will meet up again at the CHIO 2018, it is so wonderful here.”

Here is the (Mobile-) Video

Strength, athletic, Brüsewitz

The competitions in the men’s classification of the…

The competitions in the men’s classification of the Prize of Sparkasse at the CHIO Aachen 2017 turned into a purely German affair. In the end, Thomas Brüsewitz repeated his victory from the previous year – in spite of a small blunder in the freestyle.

After taking the victory in the concluding freestyle, Thomas Brüsewitz walked off with the Prize of Sparkasse 2017. After all three disciplines he finished on an overall score of 8.071. He danced to victory in the freestyle as if gravity doesn’t exist. There was however an unsteady moment when Brüsewitz didn’t land squarely on the back of his horse Bigstar after a risky high jump. But as the national coach, Ursula Ramge, stated: “Thomas is so mentally strong in the meantime that he can adapt to every situation.” And so, the 23-year-old completed his routine without making a further mistake.

“Thomas is a fantastic athlete,” is how the national coach praised her protégé. “He combines strength and agility, which can’t always be taken for granted among men.” Ramge added that furthermore, the vaulter, horse and lunger Irina Lenkeit have grown together more strongly and have become a really harmonious unit, a theme which is often forgotten when talking about vaulting. Incidentally, the motto of Brüswitz‘s freestyle was extremely unusual. He is a big Michael Jackson fan and he had chosen a piece of music that wasn’t released until after the King of Pop’s death – “Blue Gangsta” – hence it is fairly unknown.

Second place in the freestyle and in the overall classification went to Erik Oese on Calvador, lunged by Andreas Bäßler. After finishing fifth in the compulsory test, the tall vaulter, Oese, who will be celebrating his 30th birthday in September, came up trumps in the technical test. And his freestyle routine entitled “Ghost” was a feast for the eyes. Only very few people move as elegantly, nimbly and expressively as the high school teacher from Radebeul. When he adjusted his “ghost’s mask” in time with the cracking noises of the music, a shudder went down the spines of some of the spectators. Fortunately, it is just show! Oese was awarded a score of 8.501 for his freestyle. Added to his other results this made a final score of 7.999.

That sufficed to keep Viktor Brüsewitz with Don Filippo B and his lunger Lisa Borgmann at bay. Today the muscleman among the German vaulters “only” ranked fifth. But having come third in both the compulsory and technical tests, Viktor Brüsewitz – who is incidentally the elder brother of the winner – was able to defend his position. Albeit only just. Only two hundredths of a point lay between Brüsewitz and the Swiss vaulter, Lukas Heppler, on Cairo (Lunger: Petra Cinerova), who claimed fourth place in each of the three disciplines. Heppler finished on an overall score of 7.798, Brüsewitz on 7.800.

The fourth German contender in the competition, Jannik Heiland, the training partner of the Brüsewitz brothers, on Highlander (Lunger: Winnie Schlüter) had to make do with fifth place. Which is bitter because a fall at the end of his up until then fantastic technical test yesterday was especially bad luck. Heiland lay in second place after the compulsory test. But after the fall he dropped right back in the overall classification and wasn’t able to catch up the lost points in spite of coming third in the freestyle.

All in all, not only the athletes, but also the trainers had every reason to be extremely satisfied with the competition so far: “Our guys have set the bar high in all of the competitions,” is how Ursula summarised the situation from her point of view as the national coach. Tomorrow, the Nations’ Cup is on the agenda. One thing is already certain, Team NORKA from VV Köln-Dünnwald will be Team Germany I and Neuss-Grimlinghausen is Team Germany II. Which individual vaulters will be competing in which team will be announced tomorrow.

Janika Derks – no goal but a concrete plan

She didn’t start competing in the ladies competitions…

She didn’t start competing in the ladies competitions until 2016, and already winner of the Prize of Sparkasse at the CHIO Aachen in 2017: Vaulter Janika Derks.

Whereby the 27-year-old hadn’t actually set herself a goal. After the first of the two disciplines in the Prize of Sparkasse 2017, Janika Derks had stated modestly: “I am not aiming to achieve a certain placing. My goal is that I am satisfied with myself and I will be happy if the score reflects my performance.” One day later a dream came true: A victory in Aachen, the show that she and her colleagues look forward to the whole year.

“The crowd, organisation, atmosphere – everything is top here!” commented Derks. Which makes it all the more enjoyable when the sporting performance goes well: “Yes, my feeling and the judges’ score were in sync, I am happy.” Today, Derks presented “The life of a cat” – that is her freestyle motto – on Auxerre, lunged by Elisabeth Simon. She certainly did justice to the theme – lolling around on the horse’s back as if she never does anything else and she displayed cat-like skill in her acrobatic moves, landing gently and accurately as if it were child’s play. The freestyle was a feast for the eyes (8.227), even if it wasn’t the winning round.

Because on a score of 8.671 one of her fellow competitors topped her performance: Sarah Kay on Sir Valentin with Dina Menke as the lunger. The vaulter from Schleswig-Holstein had set her aims high today: “The first two competitions didn’t go as well as planned. So, I wanted to give everything today!” Kay is well-known for her nerves of steel. Where others give up, she can go that extra mile. She performed a super freestyle, perfectly in line with the theme “Smaug”, the dragon out of the cinema film “The Hobbit”. However, her victory in the freestyle didn’t enable her to move further up in the overall classification, ultimately Sarah Kay finished fifth.

Second place in the Prize of Sparkasse went to Derks‘ eternal rival this weekend: The Italian vaulter, Anna Cavallaro with Monaco Franze lunged by Nelson Vidoni. The World Cup winner mimed a wolf, but after wobbling slightly on landing after a jump, she was no longer a danger to the leading pair. Added together, fifth place in the freestyle, the third best compulsory test and the victory in the technical test resulted in a final score of 8.047.

The remaining German vaulters followed the Italian acrobat in the rankings. In addition to Sarah Kay in fifth place, last year’s winner Kristina Boe came third and the silver medallist of the 2015 European Championships, Corinna Knauf, finished fourth. Kristina Boe’s freestyle routine on Don de la Mar (Lunger: Winnie Schlüter) was full of difficult moves, such as for example a jump where she turned completely around her own axis. One of the judges placed Boe first in the technical score, the other judge put her in fourth place. Together with the artistic score and the score for the horse, this meant third place in the freestyle on a score of 8.629 and also third place in the overall classification. Corinna Knauf and her sister and trainer Alexandra Knauf gave each other a high five after the last dismount from their trusted partner, Fabiola. Well done! But in view of the tough competition in Aachen, Knauf had to make do with a score of 8.348 and sixth place. She ranked fourth in the individual classification.

Live broadcasts on WDR and ARD

The World Equestrian Festival, CHIO Aachen, will also…

The World Equestrian Festival, CHIO Aachen, will also be covered extensively on TV. The highlights are the Opening Ceremony on Tuesday evening, (8.15 p.m., WDR live), the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup on Thursday evening (8.15 p.m., WDR live) and on the final Sunday (July 23rd) starting at 11 a.m., ARD and WDR will be covering the Rolex Grand Prix and the Deutsche Bank Prize (Dressage) live. The live programme will be enhanced by summaries and follow-up reports on the individual show days – as well as the famous Farewell to the Nations Ceremony.

Thanks to cutting-edge camera technology – the spectacular “Spidercam” and 360-degree cameras are implemented – the CHIO Aachen 2017 is also going to be a thrilling experience for TV and monitor viewers. 250 TV employees are responsible on-site for the TV coverage that will be transmitted all over the world.

The national public TV channels will be broadcasting over 30 hours of coverage on the World Equestrian Festival. In addition to the sport broadcasts there will also be various news report formats, news films and coverage by Studio Aachen, which will altogether offer an exciting glance behind the scenes. On an international basis, coverage will be broadcast in over 140 countries. Eurosport will also be transmitting coverage from the CHIO Aachen 2017.

Competitions that are not broadcast on WDR or ARD, can be viewed online at ClipMyHorse.TV live.

The current TV schedules for the CHIO Aachen 2017

Neuss? Cologne? Neuss. Nail-biting result in the Prize of Sparkasse

Neuss Grimlinghausen vs. Team NORKA from VV Köln-Dünnwald…

Neuss Grimlinghausen vs. Team NORKA from VV Köln-Dünnwald (Cologne) – the Prize of Sparkasse in the team vaulting turned into a duel that couldn’t have been more exciting. In the end, on a score of 8.298 the group from Neuss asserted themselves against the team from Cologne (8.216).  Neuss won the compulsory test, Cologne the freestyle. However, the scores in the second round were much closer – 8.653 and 8.675. As in the previous year, third place went to the Italian group, C.I.M. Italy with Hot Date Tek, lunged by Laura Carnabuci, who finished on an overall score of 7.713.

Germany’s national coach, Ursula Ramge, already had reason to celebrate at lunchtime today with two such groups: “The freestyle routines of both teams were fantastic!” she said delighted. The group from Neuss performed their freestyle to the theme “Alice in Wonderland”. Team NORKA relied on futuristic design. Both teams risked everything, to the extent that the crowd had to hold its breath on several occasions when some of the lifts were performed!

Whereas in the case of Neuss-Grimlinghausen, the team comprising of Madita Schramm, Sophie Hofmann, Lara Schmitt, Mona Pavetic, Leon Huesgen and Pauline Riedl, included several Championship debutants, almost all of the athletes that competed for Cologne have won individual or pas de deux medals: Thomas Brüsewitz, Torben Jacobs, Corinna Knauf, Jana Zelesny, Miro Rengel and Justin van Gerven. Team Neuss had a completely new line-up this year, but relied on Delia FRH, an experienced horse that was lunged by Elisabeth Simon. In the case of Team NORKA it was the other way round – an established team, but a new horse: Picardo.

In the light of this both team leaders were extremely satisfied. Elisabeth Simon from Team Neuss explained regarding her new team: “The compulsory test was super, we couldn’t have hoped for a better result at the moment. And if one wins the CHIO Aachen, one can’t be anything but delighted!” Patric Looser, former World Champion in the men’s classification, emphasised: “We are very happy! We had only trained one single time with Picardo. So taking this minimal preparation into account, we can be very proud of our performance!“ Picardo wasn’t the only horse that was really electric today.

No wonder! The stands were crammed full down to the very last seat and the atmosphere was fantastic. Many of the spectators are more or less regular visitors on the CHIO vaulting weekend. If one asks them what attracts them in coming to Aachen every year for in some cases the past six or seven years, they promptly reply: “The CHIO is an absolute must-attend event if you love horses!“ And especially when one gets to experience such terrific sport, like in the first competition of the Prize of Sparkasse.

Horse & Symphony 2017 – more, please!

The 13th Horse & Symphony concert at the…

The 13th Horse & Symphony concert at the CHIO Aachen is a particularly special event. It is at the same time namely the farewell appearance of Kazem Abdullah as the General Music Director of the City of Aachen. Once again, the native US American is demonstrating why he will never be forgotten in Aachen.

For two whole evenings, on Friday and Saturday, the sounds of the Horse & Symphony are filling the Deutsche Bank Stadium. The first concert was already a total success. Just in time for the opening of the gates Petrus took mercy and sent the sun to the Soers instead of rain. That was not the only wish that was accommodated on this evening, since the spectators were allowed to select half of the musical pieces played this year themselves. The evening kicked off by paying homage to the USA, the native country of the conductor. And because his own musical career began in a brass band, that was what set the scene today for this special evening. On their way to the World Music Contest (WMC), the brass band, Rödemis, stopped off at the Soers. What this ensemble offered the crowd in the Deutsche Bank Stadium was indeed world champion material. Marching in step, conjuring up the most complicated choreographies in the sand (inspiration for the next riding club Christmas quadrille!) and at the same time playing excellent music (among others “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa) – how impressive!

And in the same way that the drum major conducted his band, the Austrian Kerstin Brein directed her ponies. A quadrille without riders? It is actually possible! Magic? To a degree. In the background the Aachen Symphony Orchestra namely performed the title melody of the Wizard of Oz, “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. The famous soprano singer Emily Newton took over the vocal part and it was child’s play for her to fill every last corner of the Deutsche Bank Stadium with her lucent voice. Then, all of a sudden everything went wild. With Quarter Horses and Harleys, Kazem Abdullah musically sped the spectators off to Route 66. This legendary street once inspired Michael Dagherty to write a piece of music that is as fast and furious as the performance of the cowboys and motorbikes in the Deutsche Bank-Stadium yesterday.

There is another horse breed that comes from America that is hardly known in Germany: the American Saddlebred Horses. To the jazz classic “Take the A train” by Billy Strayhorn or Andres Reukauf they got everyone in the mood for what was next on the agenda.

When Arturo Márquez let himself be inspired by Cuban rhythms and wrote Danzon No. 2, he surely didn’t imagine how wonderfully both two and four-legged creatures can dance to his composition. But the baroque horse quadrille of the team directed by the international Grand Prix rider, Britta Rasche-Merkt and the A team of the Aachen-Düsseldorf Dance Centre really brought Cuba to the Soers.

And when the musical theme is the USA, Hollywood naturally can’t be missing either. Among others, the soundtrack of the cinema evergreen, “Rocky”, accompanied an impressive four-in-hand driving quadrille, comprising of four carriages of the international drivers, Daniel Würgler and Andreas Wintgens together with their teams. 64 hooves dancing to “Eye of the Tiger” raised the roof of the Deutsche Bank Stadium.

Anne Krüger and her daughter Carla, who guided their ducks through the outdoor arena with precision with the aid of their perfectly trained dogs, equally amazed the crowd. It was a demonstration of the perfect interplay between people and animals accompanied by the absolute classic among romantic pieces of music, Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt”.

Since it was a request concert, Beethoven was obviously on board! His Symphony No. 9 and the “Ode to Joy” simply had to make up part of yesterday evening’s programme. The most successful dressage rider of all time, Isabell Werth, let her just ten-year-old Sorento dance to this famous piece and gave a foretaste of what the Deutsche Bank Prize has in store for us next week, when the best dressage riders in the world present their top horses in the Grand Prix Freestyle.

However, the vaulters are currently still ruling the Soers. They demonstrated their versatility this evening. Who would have thought that the acrobats are not only able to do back flips and summersaults at the flick of a wrist, they are even not too bad at football either? To Andreas Bourani’s “Auf uns!” (one noticed it was a request concert), sung by Emily Newton, the vaulters gave the spectators a teaser of their athletic skills, performed around King Football.

The event came to a close with the “Ride of the Valkyries” accompanied by Britta Rasche-Merkt’s team, who simply gave their all – including saving Brunhilde from the blaze. After the Finale of all participants with great pomp and circumstance, the audience left the stadium inspired. Thank you, Kazem Abdullah!

Sponsored by

Soziale Medien