Gothenburg, Sweden—April 25
Upsets don’t happen often in dressage, but the spectators at the Scandinavium arena saw one today. The Netherlands’ Adelinde Cornelissen, last year’s Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final  winner, arrived in Sweden with Jerich Parzival, poised to win the Grand Prix on the way to defending her title. And for the first part of her test, it looked like Cornelissen might do just that.
But a major disobedience during piaffe—Parzival appeared to spook at something before spinning, rearing and backing up—bumped the pair down to fourth (75.41%) for this class.
Helen Langehanenberg had been first to go, earning a 79.86 percent, and she also accepted first place aboard Damon Hill NRW. Damon Hill, a 13-year-old Westphalian (Donnerhall—Romanze, Rubinstein I) stallion owned by Christian Becks, was second to Parzival in last year’s Grand Prix and freestyle final.
“I had a great feeling today,” said Langehanenberg. “He came into the arena and his ears were up and in front of me. He was really willing to do it. He was really working for me.”
Germany’s Langehanenberg and Damon Hill have faced down Cornelissen and Parzival and won before. They topped the Amsterdam CDI-W Grand Prix freestyle earlier this year, though they finished second in that Grand Prix to the Dutch pair. Langehanenberg also won the World Dressage Masters Mechelen CDI***** (Belgium) Grand Prix, taking second in that freestyle to Cornelissen. The riders will go head-to-head again for the Rolex FEI World Cup title on Saturday.
“It was a really good feeling during these last shows; he’s given me so much trust,” said Langehanenberg. “It’s hard to explain. It’s just a feeling, but it’s really like belonging together somehow. Going into the arena and starting the test, it somehow feels like home. But every day is a new day, and we’ll fight for it on Saturday.”
The only major bobble in Damon Hill’s test was a mistake during the one tempis, though the horse had a few minor and momentary lapses of rhythm in the piaffe.
“The mistake with the ones was really expensive, I think,” said Langehanenberg.
The Netherlands’ Edward Gal was second today (78.46%) aboard Glock’s Undercover, a black gelding he’s been riding for about a year now. The horse started in CDI Grand Prix competition last April and bears a resemblance to Gal's former partner Totilas.
“I’m very happy because he always wants to go, and I can control it much better,” said Gal. “He’s a really nice horse. He always wants to do it for you, and that’s a really nice feeling. If you sit and just take back, he does the piaffe.”
Sweden’s own Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Don Auriello earned the third-placed spot. The crowd cheered especially loudly for Vilhelmson-Silfven, as well as for the other Swedish riders, Patrik Kittel and Minne Telde.
“He was a bit tense, and I didn’t have the easiest round. But I was really happy he got more and more relaxed the longer he went. In the end he was better,” said Vilhelmson-Silfven.
Other Notable World Cup Happenings:
- A formal protest was lodged after riders reported that the flowers were set out around the ring differently for the competition than they had been for the arena familiarization time. Larger bunches of red flowers were added to the tops of the letters for this afternoon’s class. Fédération Equestre Internationale Dressage Director Trond Asmyr reported that results of the protest will be released by the end of the day. “We can’t go into what the potential results of the protest could be,” he said.
- Seventeen horses started today’s Grand Prix. Germany’s Kristina Sprehe withdrew Desperados FRH after the horse came up lame during their morning training session. The horse passed yesterday’s jog.
- Canadian Jacqueline Brooks, who’s been competing at CDIs in Florida all winter, placed 13th on 67.35 percent in the Grand Prix aboard D Niro. “I loved it,” said Brooks of her ride. “I had such a great time. We didn’t know how he would be because it’s new to him—big indoor, big venue, all that. When he came in, he was like, ‘Wow!’ It’s just about experience. As long as I can keep him listening to me, he’s perfect. There were moments where he looked at stuff and then he came right back to me, instantly back to me. He’s the kind of horse that he learns by doing.”
- Jaimey Irwin, also riding for Canada, dealt with some spooking from Lindor’s Finest during the test. They finished 17th with a 61.47 percent. “It’s a new experience for me and for the horse,” said Irwin. “I think that caught us a little bit off guard. But it’s to be expected because we don’t really have any opportunities to do these kinds of competitions at home. That’s why we’re here and doing it—getting experience and exposure.”
- Five of the 17 horses in the Grand Prix were stallions, and no mares competed.
- The Scandinavium arena is too small to allow space for riders to warm up around the edge. They enter directly into the arena and then go down centerline once the bell has been rung.
- Riders from 10 countries (Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada, Ukraine, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Russia) competed.
- Cornelissen and Parzival won the FEI World Cup Final Grand Prix in 2010, 2011 and 2012 with scores of 78.85 percent, 80.95 percent and 78.02 percent, respectively. Steffen Peters won the Grand Prix in 2009 aboard Ravel (77.91%) and Isabell Werth topped the class in 2008 (75.08%) with Warum Nicht FRH.
Visit the Gothenburg Horse Show website  for full results from this class and others.