Daniel Deusser, Dinja Van Liere and the British Eventers Wow Crowds at Aachen
In Aachen at the northwest tip of Germany finally got to stage their Festival of the Horse. The event was cancelled in 2020 and was postponed from its usual June date, partly due to the pandemic, but also to accommodate the Olympics. The Aachen festival is a celebration of the horse with top level international competition for showjumping, eventing, driving, endurance and dressage. Add to this, a series of Nations Cup fixtures, and we end up with five days of absolute equestrian indulgence.
Horse Trial Eventing
In Eventing, there were 39 starters’ for the SAP Cup; a 4 star short competition. The dressage was the first part followed by the showjumping and then finally the cross country. There were medals for both individuals and teams. In the dressage, a 10 year old mare Jadore Moi ridden by Sophie Leube for Germany headed the leader board with 24.50 penalties. With 25.20 penalties, the American rider Tamra Smith riding Mai Baum was second and France’s Gireg le Coz was in third riding Aisprit de la Loge. The top eleven competitors all ended the dressage with scores of under 30 penalties. In the team event, the standings at the end of the dressage phase had Great Britain in the top place followed by New Zealand and the United States.
Later in the day, the showjumping phase took place and the time was very tight as either the riders did get a clear but with time faults or they were so keen to make the time that they had a pole or two down in the process. The winner of the showjumping phase was from Great Britain, Kirsty Chabert riding Classic VI with fellow Brit Laura Collett riding Dacapo with American William Coleman riding Off The Record in third. William Coleman succeeded as one of the few, to go round with absolutely no penalties at all, so ended the day on his dressage score of 29.70 penalties. Tamra Smith had 8 faults which moved her down to 11th place after the showjumping and the leader after dressage, Sophie Leube dropping to 9th place after collecting another 8.40 penalties. Gireg le Coz dropped from third to eighth. Following the showjumping, the team leader board was headed by Great Britain with The United States in second and New Zealand in third.
The final phase over the cross country saw 38 riders tackle the 26 fence course comprising of several brush type fences and two water features. They were generally quite meaty fences with not many skinny types which gave the course a good flow. William Coleman from the USA was the top cross country competitor going clear but was 2 seconds over the time, earning him 0.80 penalties. The second, third and fourth him were a trio of British riders; all of whom went clear but all collected time faults. The final individual winner was William Coleman riding Off the Record with Laura Collett riding Dacapo in second. Fellow Brit Emilie Chandler was third individually riding Gortfadde Diamond and just for good measure, Laura Collett was fourth as well, this time riding Mr Bass. The Team winners were Great Britain, the first time that any British eventing team had won at Aachen. They won with a total penalty count of 116.200, just ahead of the United States team who ended up with 116.500 penalties, so really close between the two! The third team was from Ireland with 127.200 penalties.
Meanwhile, while all the horse trial classes were happening, in the very smart purpose built dressage international stadium at Aachen, the first round of the dressage took place for the 33 combinations. Again, there were the individual honours to go for as well as a team event. With all the team events in all the disciplines, there were four riders in each team with the worst score of each rider disregarded for the final team scores. Before the competition even started, an announcement from Germany’s Isabel Werth that she was intending to retire from international riding after the Paris Olympic Games took everyone by surprise.
At the end of the 5 star Grand Prix, The Netherlands provided the best rider of the day, Dinja Van Liere riding a KWPN 9 year old gelding, Hermes with 78.022% In second was the ever more successful Charlotte Fry on 76.717% riding her evergreen black stallion Everdale for Great Britain and Patrik Kittel for Sweden taking the third place with Fiontini and 76.261%. In the team event, in which there were seven countries taking part, Germany was in the lead with Great Britain in second and Netherlands third.
The second part of the team event was the Grand Prix Special. There were 16 combinations starting and Olympic heroine Jessica Von Bredow Werndl riding Ferdinand BB won with 73.511%. In second was Simone Pearce from Australia riding Destano and Jose Daniel Martin Dockx from Spain was third. At the end of the GPS, the team standings were Great Britain in the lead followed by the United States with Spain in third. With the final 16 riders to compete for the individual placings in the Grand Prix Freestyle, the team result would surely change as Germany going into this class were at the bottom of the table, but they did have their top riders still to go! In a very high scoring competition, every rider getting well over 75%, the 12th entry, Dinja Van Liere from the Netherlands took the crowd by storm and went into the lead with 86.740%. The next and final 4 to go also gained 80% plus scores. The final rider of the quartet was Isabel Werth riding DSP Quantaz and she just wowed the crowd and the judges and finished with a winning score of 88.335%. The individual winner was derived from adding the two percentage scores together from the Grand Prix and whichever the rider competed in for their second round; either the Grand Prix Special or the Grand Prix Freestyle.
Therefore the individual title went to Hermes ridden by Dinja Van Liere from the Netherlands on 158 points. Charlotte Fry from Great Britain was reserve champion with 154 points and Isabel Werth from Germany was third, also with 154 points, the difference between the two riders was that Charlotte did a superior test in the Grand Prix to Isabel. In the team event, Germany took the top spot comfortably with a tussle for second and third between Great Britain and the Netherlands, which The Netherlands came through by just t points ahead of the British quartet.
The main event for the showjumping was the Rolex Grand Prix. All the main players were competing with their top horses. This was a proper Olympic type Grand Prix as always. One of the most prestigious victories a rider can win in the world. There were 40 starting in the Frank Rothenberger designed course over the 16 jumping efforts required in a time allowed of 79 seconds. This, as always was the main class of showjumping for the week The team event had already been wrapped up earlier in the show. Thirty one riders from eight nations competed in the two round Nations Cup class.
The winners were The United States, ending up with a total score from all their riders over the two rounds of 4 faults, after the discard scores from the two rounds. The US team were Jessica Sprinstein, Laura Kraut, Lucy Deslauries and Brian Moggre. The second team were from Sweden, perhaps a surprise following the incredible performances of the Swedish teams this year? They ended on 8 faults. In third were the team from France who finished with a score of 12 faults.
In the individual Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen, there were 40 forward. This class is part of the Rolex Grand Slam competition and has two rounds and a jump off. All the riders compete in the first round with the top 18 going through for the second round. Then the top seven from round two go through to the jump off against the clock. In the first round, there were 4 who retired and another 12 who went clear. The next six for round two were selected from the quickest 4 faulters. From the second round, there was one further retiree, and of the rest, nine went clear. Martine Fuchs from Switzerland was one of the clears in the second round, but did have a pole down in the first. His Swiss compatriot, Steve Guerdat was clear in the first round but collected 4 faults in the second, as did Gerrit Neiberg from Belgium. In the final jump off round, there were only three to go clear.
The fastest clear and the winner was Daniel Deusser riding Killer Queen VDM in 41.85 seconds. The second triple clear was Brian Moggre from the US riding Balou de Reventon, taking the runner up place on 42.16 seconds. The third was Gregory Wathelet from Belgium riding Nevados S coming home in 42,83 seconds. All the rest had fences down including Olympic champion, Ben Maher riding Explosion W, who was the best of the rest with one pole down. His was the quickest round in the jump off course, in 40.67 seconds, so the nudge of one fence left him in fourth, a pole which cost him 230,000 euros in prize money. Ouch!!!!
Back again after a Covid year off, once again the Aachen Festival of the Horse week was a resounding success with the best in the world competing for the various coveted Aachen titles.
Images courtesy Goldeneye Photography, Tilly Berendt and facebook