‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands—April 20
Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen came into the 2012 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final as the hot favorite. Her mount, Jerich Parzival, easily won last year’s Final. But at yesterday’s veterinary inspection Parzival’s chance to win the 2012 title was called into question when he was held for unsoundness.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Cornelissen. “I rode the day before, and I went to the vet check, and he was being stupid and biting, and probably that made it even worse. I figured if something was wrong I could check with the riding. So I stepped on and started riding, and he was completely good. I wanted the vet check done right then, but that was not an option. I had to wait until this morning, and it was a hell of a night.
“It wasn’t the best preparation,” she continued. “I could have slept a few more hours.”
But Parzival passed his morning vet check and went on to win the Grand Prix here in ‘s-Hertogenbosch with a 78.02 percent. But Cornelissen admitted the test wasn’t her best. Parzival, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Jazz—Fidora, Ulft) gelding, had a small mistake in the canter half-pass zig-zag and then halted abruptly in the middle of the last piaffe and passage tour.
“It’s actually quite funny,” said Cornelissen, who rode second in the 18-horse class. “I had to do the last centerline, and there’s always a little bit of this background music playing. Well, if you would see the background tape you would hear that the music stopped during my piaffe [on the centerline]. So Parzival figured he was done, and he stopped and then was like, ‘OK, I’ll keep going.’ ”
Watch clips of Parzival's test:
German rider Helen Langehanenberg was second aboard Damon Hill NRW on a 76.12 percent. But Langehanenberg and the rest of the German contingency were still reeling from the unexpected loss of team coach, Holger Schmezer. Schmezer passed away in his hotel room in ‘s-Hertogenbosch yesterday, and the German riders briefly considered withdrawing from the competition. All the German competitors sported black armbands in honor of their coach.
“I think it’s really hard for everybody when somebody dies so suddenly,” said Langehanenberg, 29. “Nobody expected it. It was really hard for us. We sat together the whole night last night, the whole German team, and that was quite good. But we all had the same opinion that Holger wants us to ride. That was his life, his aim, and that was why he came here. We had to ride for him.”
For the first half of the test, Langehanenberg looked like she could take the lead on the 12-year-old Westphalian (Donnerhall—Romanze, Rubinstein I).
“I think we had a brilliant start,” she said. “He was really expressive, and we had a brilliant piaffe and passage tour at the beginning. Then, sadly, at the end we had some mistakes, and they were expensive. But we will work on that. He’s really in brilliant shape and so willing to do it and so motivated to do it.”
Valentina Truppa, 26 and riding for Italy aboard Eremo del Castegno, rounded out the top three (75.10%).
“In the indoor he’s not always so quiet, but today he was really, really good to ride,” said Truppa. “Of course I didn’t expect to be in this position because the riders here are really strong. It’s a pleasure for me to be in this place.”
U.S. Riders 13th And 17th
The riders representing the United States had good draw luck in the Grand Prix—with Shawna Harding going in 16th and Jan Ebeling riding last—but mistakes marred both of their tests and kept them out of the top 10.
This is the second World Cup Final for both Harding and her Danish Warmblood Come On III (Come Back II—Canna, Lantaan), and the pair had a problem in the two tempis and a bobble in their last extended trot. But the horse shined in his half-passes and one tempis for a score of 68.05 and 13th in the class.
“He was a really good boy,” said Harding. “He was just getting a little to the end of what he could mentally handle and focus on towards the end of the test. I am super pleased. We made it all the way here in one piece, and we’re walking back in one piece.”
Harding, Aiken, S.C., is riding an older version of her freestyle tomorrow.
“I thought it would go a little bit better in this atmosphere,” said Harding. “No matter what we’re here to have a really good time and keep the horses happy and healthy. They had a long trip coming over, lots of delays, but [Come On] seems to be really having a good time. He loves to be in front of the people even though sometimes it makes him nervous with all the bright lights. But he is a special horse.”
Jan Ebeling, Moorpark, Calif., incurred penalties on Rafalca before entering the ring by taking too long to do so. Harding also lost points for the same reason.
“Well, I got a little behind in my warm-up,” said Ebeling. “I looked at the clock and there wasn't a lot of time. That’s why I did that extended canter to the ring and to get into the arena. I knew I was going to be late, so I lost a little bit of focus.”
Rafalca, a 15-year-old Oldenburg (Argentinius—Ratine, Rubinstein) mare owned by Ann Romney, Beth Meyer and Amy Ebeling, had mistakes in the two and one tempis and earned a score of 65.25 for 17th place.
“Sometimes I think you make one mistake, and it leads to another and another,” said Jan. “It’s unfortunate. She’s been great every day, and she’s been good at the last few shows. I wish it would have gone a little bit better because she’s gone really well, and she warmed up nice. Sometimes that’s not the way it goes. And the only place it counts is in the arena.”
The riders will compete in the freestyle for the World Cup title at 2 p.m. tomorrow. See full results from today’s Grand Prix.