The Aachen we all know and Love Back to its Best

The Festival of the Horse at Aachen in north west Germany is always a highlight of e equestrian calendar and this year with no covid restrictions it felt far more like the normal Aachen we all know and love. With show jumping, dressage and eventing at the highest level, it was a show that many of the top riders simply did not wish to miss. Other showjumping five star event were also held in Monte Carlo and Spruce Meadows.

Dressage

The famous Deutches Bank Dressage Arena at Aachen

The dressage once again was held in the special dressage arena at Aachen, The Deutsche Bank Stadium. The competition comprised the main international Grand Prix and then the Grand Prix Special and to finish the Grand Prix Freestyle, all at 5 star level. The Grand Prix class also had teams of four from eight nations competing in the latest round of Nations Cup for Dressage. There were thirty six combinations in front of the five judges. Susanne Baarup from Denmark at E: Christof Umbach from the Netherlands at H: Mariette Sanders van Gansewinkel, also from The Netherlands at C and president of the judges: Anne Gribbons from the United States at M and finally Elke Ebert from Germany at B.

Each of the team members went in a rotational order with the first team member for the Netherlands going first. That was Karen Nijvelt who left with a score of 69.870%. The Spanish first team member went next. The third country’s team member from Australia withdrew before the off, thus leaving all the three Australian members scores to count. Like with most FEI competitions for the Nations Cup, the worst score from each team was discounted. Denmark were the fourth team in followed by representatives from Great Britain, The United States and finally Germany. After the first team member had all competed, Germany were in the driver’s seat with Benjamin Werndl taking the lead with 74/869%.

Benjamin Werndl takes the best for the German Team

This was a very tight scoring Grand Prix with only 18 points separating all the eight teams after all the qualifying scores had been counted. The winner of this leg was Denmark with a total score of 229.740. Their team of Daniel Bachman Andersen, Carina Casssoe Kruth and Cathrine Dufour won with 73.6, 74.9 and 81.544%. In fact Dufour’s score was the only one in the class to get 80 or over percent. At this stage of the Nations Cup, Germany were the runners up with 228.49 points after Werndl’s score plus that of his team mates – Frederic Wandres, (77.217%) and Isabel Werth on 76.413%. In third were The Netherlands on a final score of 219.608. Their team were Marieke van der Putten, Thamar Zweistra, Dinja Van Liere. They just pipped the Swedish team for third place who ended with a total of 218.370. The other teams were all very close with The United States in fifth on 218.282, Spain with 216.348 in sixth; Great Britain in seventh with 215.391 points, just ahead of Australia. And so two days later, it all happened again with all the same teams competing at Grand Prix Special and with the scores so tight right through the leader board, it was bound to change.

Cathrine Dufour takes all three sections of the dressage with some ease.

Individually, Cathrine Dufour won The Grand Prix riding the ten year old stallion, Vamos Amigos with Frederic Wandres taking second for Germany riding Duke of Britain on77.217%. The third on the podium was from Finland, Henri Rouste, one of the riders not involved in Nations Cup duties, with 76.783% riding Kontestro DB. Both Charlotte Fry from Great Britain and Isabel Werth from Germany fought out the next two places, both with 76% plus. In the Grand Prix Special, Cathrine Dufour again was the only rider to get over 80% and won the class. Again Frederic Wandres was second on 78.648% with Henri Rouste taking the third podium place. The Danish team managed to keep their heads just in front and won the Aachen Dressage Nations Cup with a total of 459.421 points as their riders managed to obtain very similar scores in the Special as they did the Grand Prix. Germany came maintained their second place with Sweden coming ahead of the Netherlands. Like with the Grand Prix, there were four riders in each team with the worst score of the four being discarded.

Frederic Wandres had a good show for Germany

It was no surprise, having been on such good form this week that Cathrine Dufour took the Grand Prix Freestyle for Denmark. She won with 88.375%, a personal best for her. There were several who achieved the over 80% mark including the second, Frederic Wandres for Germany with a score of 83.880%. In third was Daniel Bachmann Andersen, again for Denmark with 82.985% making the week at Aachen for Denmark the best they had ever had. There were another six combinations who received over 80% in the class of fifteen.

Eventing

Tom McEwen leads the British Team to victory

In the eventing part of this festival of the horse, the main headline was the very sad one that Rosalind Canter’s horse Allstar B, her World Cup winning horse, had to be put down after a bad accident over the cross country. In the competition, there were 42 starters with some big names running. At the end of the dressage, Michael Jung riding Fischerchipmunk took the lead with 22.20 penalties. William Coleman from the United States was second on 25.80 riding Chin Tonic and third place was Tom McEwen riding Toledo de Kerser on 26.40 for Great Britain. Rosalind Canter was in fourth place. As this competition was also a Nations Cup event, the standings after the dressage were Great Britain in the lead with 80.100 penalties followed by Germany with 86.100 points. There were six teams in the cup this time and the FEI rules were the same as the dressage with regards to discarded scores and team numbers. The British team were Tom McEwen, Rosalind Canter, Yasmin Ingham and William Fox Pitt. Joining Michael Jung for Germany were Ingrid Klimke, Julia Krajewaski and  Sandra Auffarth. The third team were from France. In the showjumping, (this was a short 4 star CCI event) all three British riders finished on their dressage score so maintained their lead. Germany added 8 penalties to their overall score and the French added 12 penalties to theirs.

In the showjumping, there were eleven riders who did not add anything to their dressage scores which included the top three in the dressage. In the cross country session, the final part of the competition, the leader board was turned upside down. Sandra Auffarth won with Andrew Hoy riding Vassily de Lassos finishing second and Tom McEwen coming third. The leader board for the Nations Cup remained the same as it had throughout the two day competition. Great Britain won on 109.300 points with Germany in second on 138.200 points and France in third with 147.900 points.

Showjumping

Andre Thieme goes clear for Germany

In the Nations Cup, Great Britain started the ball rolling for the Mercedes Benz Nations Cup with another seven nations with teams to follow. After the two rounds over the same course and all the riders had competed, Germany came out on top as the winners with just 5 faults from their team members over the two rounds. In the first round, Christian Kukuk was the discard score of just 4 faults with the team ending the round with just 1 time fault from Jana Wagers and both Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann and Andre Thieme going clear. In the second round, Andre Thieme did not go and there was just a 4 fault score from the other three from Jana Wargers.

Harry Charles, the only Brit to take both rounds clear.

With just 8 faults over the two rounds, Belgium took the second place along with Great Britain, also ending with 8 faults. Wilm Vermier was the discard for the team in both rounds while both Nicola Philippaerts and Gregory Wathelet had 4 faults each in one of the rounds. Only Jérôme Guery went clear in both rounds. The British team made up of Scott Brash, Ben Maher, Harry Charles and John Whitaker saw only Harry Charles get a double clear with Scott Brash and Ben Maher getting 4 faults each; one in round one and the second in round two. In both rounds, John Whitaker was the discard score.

In the Rolex Grand Prix, the world’s top performers were at the show to try to get their hands on some of the 2.5 million euro prize money. Of the 40 riders in the start list for the first round, the top 18 runners from the first round went again.

Gerrit Nieberg win the Rolex Grand Prix

After that round, there was the jump off for the final four who had thus far jumped clear in the first two rounds. The first to go was MaClain Ward for the United States riding HH Azur. He knocked down one pole leaving with 4 faults. The rest of the five all got yet another clear round, so it was down to the clock to decide the winner. Germany’s Daniel Deusser riding Killer Queen was the next in and finished in fourth with 41.60 seconds. Hello Jefferson with Scott Brash on board for Great Britain was third, He rode a brilliant round in 39.24 seconds putting him in pole position. Nicola Philippaerts riding Katanga V/H Dingeshof for Belgium was the penultimate combination to go, and although try as she might, was not able to beat Scott’s round finishing on 39.92 seconds. Gerrit Nieberg riding Ben was the last in and took the class with a stupendous 38.63 seconds. As usual, the Festival of the Horse at Aachen lived up to its traditional billing as this is the one they all want to win!!

Monte Carlo

Max Kruhner wins at Monte Carlo

In Monte Carlo, another round of the Longines Global Champions Tour took place. With Aachen on at the same time, there were opportunities for some of the other top riders. There were 34 in the class designed by Uliano Vezzani. The winner was Max Kuhner from Austria riding Cariolis de Ilses who achieved a double clear in the fastest time of 35.36 seconds. The only other to get a double clear came from Darragh Kenny from Ireland riding Volnay du Boisdeville; he stood second with 35.70 on the clock. In fact all the other riders got faults in the first round, so they were the only two in the jump off. The third place went to Oliver Philippaerts from Belgium riding H &M Miro. He Collected 2 time faults in the first round, ahead of the rest of the field who got at least 4 faults each.

Spruce Meadows

In Spruce Meadows in Canada, there was yet another 5 star FEI competition. This was less affected by the top riders being at Aachen. There were thirty runners for this Pan American Rolex Grand Prix. There were 14 obstacles with 17 jumping efforts required, all to be achieved in a time allowed of 91 seconds; a course designed by Canadian Peter Grant.  Again as in Monte Carlo, there were only two left to come forward to the jump off. In her first ever 5 star competition, Giavanna Rinaldi from the United States took the class riding Cosmona in 46.23 seconds. The second was Jose Antonio Chedraui from Mexico riding Mighty Mouse, again clear in 51.13 seconds. Afterwards, a delighted Giavanna said “I’ve always dreamt of coming to this show, it’s been a big dream of mine. I couldn’t be prouder of my horse and the team behind us – it is a dream come true.” 

images courtesy Goldeneye Photography, Thomas Reiner, Aachen Press Office and facebook

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