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April 4, 2006

Bonaparte Rules At Bremen

The Grand Prix Special, the final of the Kampmann Dressage Cup, drew the absolute top horses and riders during the Bremen Horse Sport Festival in Bremen, Germany, Feb. 26. With a brilliant ride, Heike Kemmer and her 13-year-old Hanoverian, Bonaparte, took victory with her personal top score of 78.48 percent.

"I am very satisfied with my ride. Bonaparte has further developed during the winter break. He has become more muscular and has more power," she said. "This has an especially positive effect in movements like piaffe, passage and canter pirouettes."

For her victory with the chestnut gelding, Kemmer took home a purse of $11,880.

For reigning World Champion Nadine Capellmann, her score of 77.60 percent was also a personal best for her 10-year-old Elvis in the Grand Prix Special. Compared to their Grand Prix ride, the horse appeared much improved in the Special--more secure and relaxed.

"Of course, I would have liked to win, but I am happy with my second place as well," said Capellmann. While Elvis is scoring well for his extensions and passage, there is still room for improvement in the canter tour.

Third place went to the winners of the Grand Prix, the Danish combination of Andreas Helgstrand and Blue Hors Don Schufro (77.00%). The stallion, by the late Donnerhall, started to canter instead of going into the trot half-pass at the beginning of the test, which cost him points for an otherwise very pleasant and convincing ride.

"I am not disappointed at all," said Helgstrand, the 28-year-old employee of the Danish stud farm Blue Hors. "We have seen here an absolute top world-class level; I am proud that I can take home my Grand Prix victory and a third place in the Grand Prix Special. Don Schufro has shown that he can keep pace with the world's top mounts, although he has not competed in many Grand Prix tests yet. A mistake like ours today can always happen."

Helgstrand hopes to compete Don Schufro at the World Championships at Aachen this summer. "He possesses an even greater potential than Blue Hors Cavan and is easier to ride," he said.

Fourth place went to Jan Brink of Sweden and Bjorsell's Briar (75.12%). The pair placed third in the European Championships and won the World Cup freestyle at Neumunster (Germany). They had a weak beginning to their test, but, especially toward the end of the performance, showed excellent form and were very expressive.

German team coach Holger Schmezer was happy about the top German placings. "I am glad that the German riders proved that they still know how to win after the non-German combinations [took the top ribbons] at Neumunster," he said. "All horses showed significant improvement in the Special compared to the Grand Prix and were much more relaxed."

For the first time in the Kampmann Cup, the Grand Prix took place in the big arena and the horses were able to get used to it before the Special.

In addition to the $5,940 in the Grand Prix and the $47,523 in the Grand Prix Special, there was a $33,266 bonus for riders who placed first through third in the nine qualifiers for the Kampmann Cup at eight shows. The riders had to compete at Bremen to receive the bonus; $4,158 of the $37,430 bonus was not paid since not all riders competed at Bremen. Ellen Schulten-Baumer was the top-scoring rider of the series for the third time in row.

A Look At The German Contenders For The WEG
Most of the German A team horses had been on winter break since Stuttgart at the end of November, and Bremen was their first appearance of the year. The nomination for the German WEG team will mainly be based on the performances of the outdoor season, especially the German Championships in July, the only official trial, but at Bremen it was certainly worth watching the team horses closely. German team coach Holger Schmezer had several comments about them:

"Heike Kemmer and Bonaparte showed an overwhelmingly great performance in the Grand Prix Special without any tension, with great ease and relaxation. This was dressage riding at its finest. There were no faults, no weaknesses, and the horse has reacted very well to the aids of the rider.

"Nadine Capellmann and Elvis showed a significant improvement in the Grand Prix Special compared to the Grand Prix, though they still had a mistake in the flying changes a tempi. Elvis is certainly a classical mount with the greatest potential of all current horses in the sport. What he still needs is steadiness.

"Klaus Husenbeth, who was seventh in the Grand Prix Special, had some bad luck when Piccolino shied in the corner and they lost a lot of points. But the 14-year-old gelding is in great shape and has returned to the power and ease of performance he displayed two years ago, before he had a break due to injury.

"Concerning Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff and Wahajama-Unicef as well as Sterntaler-Unicef, I think they still need more competition exposure. Wahajama-Unicef was already much improved in her second show of this year, and Sterntaler-Unicef, improved at Bremen to win the freestyle, with fewer faults than the day before in the Grand Prix. Both horses have all the potential, what they need is steadiness.

"The same holds true for Isabell Werth and Satchmo. At Stuttgart they had really shown the outstanding performance that they are capable of, but still they need steadiness. We will have to wait and see how the outdoor season will go."

A New Face
Laura Bechtolsheimer and her 11-year-old, chestnut gelding Mistral Hojris made an interesting appearance in the Grand Prix. With outstanding paces and a powerful appearance, the Michellino offspring showed great potential for piaffe and passage in his first Grand Prix. He finished 19th, in last place, due to resistance in the second piaffe and again in the last piaffe on the centerline. But it seemed that this resistance was mainly because the gelding, who Bechtolsheimer has been riding for 11?2 years, was frightened.

Last year, Bechtolsheimer, 21, became the youngest British senior dressage champion ever. "He looked to the VIP stands during the extended walk, and when I turned to do the piaffe and he was facing the same place on the stands he was very frightened and did not want to go there," she said. "On the centerline the judge at C stood up very early to greet and he got frightened again. We never had a problem before in the piaffes, and in the Intermediaire II he has already achieved scores of 70 percent."

It was amazing how well Bechtolsheimer kept the huge horse under control and skilfully brought him back to do what she wanted. With her experienced mount Douglas Dorsey, she appears to be qualified for the FEI World Cup Final at Amsterdam.
 
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