German dressage team coach Holger Schmezer had high praise for reigning World Champion Nadine Capellmann’s ride aboard Elvis in the unofficial German championship for 7- to 9-year-old horses at the international Frankfurt Festhallen Horse Show (Germany), Dec. 18. “A world champion aboard a horse of world champion quality in a performance worthy of a world champion,” he said.
With 81.17 percent, the highest score achieved in any of the 13 finals of the Nuernberger Burg-Pokal, Capellmann and Elvis, her 8-year-old, chestnut gelding, bested 13 combinations. Elvis, with Espri as a sire and Garibaldi II as dam sire, has the same pedigree as Hugo Simon’s legendary show jumper E.T.
Capellmann, whose World Champion Farbenfroh became ill after their title win in 2002, had to be put down after breaking his leg when standing up after a surgery just two days after the Frankfurt show on Dec. 20.
Capellmann considers Elvis to have even stronger potential than Farbenfroh. “He is the best horse I ever had,” she said. “He does not pay attention to the surroundings of the arena like Farbenfroh does, and I can totally concentrate on my ride.”
Capellmann bought Elvis as a 5-year-old from Martin Schaudt. The 2004 Olympic team champion had purchased Elvis for 120,000 German marks (about $60,000 at that time) as a 3-year-old at the Verden Auction. When Capellmann bought Elvis he was still pretty fresh. “He twice dumped me in the sand, and the second time I bruised my ribs. Since it was just prior to the 2002 WEG I got a bit scared, and when he even put my trainer Klaus Balkenhol in the sand, I decided to give him to Heiner Schiergen for further education.”
Schiergen brought Elvis from M to S level, and Lingen (Germany), where Capellman qualified with a victory for the Nuernberger Burg-Pokal Final, was her first competition with him. “I had ridden him only 10 times before,” she said. “Now we are getting along very well together. For three months Elvis has been in my barn.”
The Final of the Nuernberger Burg-Pokal had a high standard. Holga Finken secured second place with 77.93 percent aboard the 8-year-old, chestnut gelding Wanesco, who is supposed to start Grand Prix in the summer of 2005.
Third place went to Olympic team bronze medalist Lisa Wilcox aboard the 9-year-old Jazz Time. “It was my goal to place among the top three,” she said.
The Dutch-bred stallion sired by Jazz out of a Romadour dam was concentrating well during his test. “He has not always been like that,” said Wilcox. “I have had him now for two years under saddle. In the beginning he was still quite a raw product.”
For Wilcox, a German-based U.S. rider, the show marked her final appearance with a stallion of the Vorwerk stud farm, for which she has worked and ridden for nearly a decade. At the end of the year, Wilcox moved to Switzerland to Samuel Schatzmann at Zofingen’s stable, about 20 minutes from Zurich. She will still compete at national German shows for the riding club at Cappeln in Germany. Her first goal is to qualify some of her new horses for the German Bundeschampionat. And she has excellent young horses, as their 4- and 5-year-olds have first-class stallions as sires and dam sires such as Donnerhall, Brentano II, Waterford, Rubin Royal, Pilot, Sandro Hit, Weltmeyer, Rohdiamant or Florestan.
Wilcox will also have a 7- and an 11-year-old gelding at her disposal. “The 11-year-old has been competed so far at Prix St. Georges,” she said. “I have to see what I can make out of him.”
Though Wilcox is an employee of Schatzmann’s barn, she said she feels as if she were self-employed. “It is the first time that I can make my own decisions,” she said. And she does not mind that all of her new rides are geldings. “I really enjoyed riding stallions, and I would do so again, but only if frozen sperm is taken and they can concentrate during the outdoor season on dressage work and preparation.”
Renoir-Unicef Shows His Best
The international dressage classes ended on Sunday morning with a popular victory. In the Grand Prix Special, the Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management Trophy, Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff and Renoir-Unicef scored their personal best for this test (78.00%) and repeated their victory of Friday morning in the Grand Prix (75.17%).
The German rider, who was a member of the 2002 gold-medal World Championship team aboard Renoir-Unicef, was pleased with her ride. “This was a brilliant ending of the show season. I always hoped that Renoir-Unicef would one day show what he is able to perform, and he did today,” she said.
“Already in the Stuttgart [Germany] horse show at the end of November he had performed a very well-done Grand Prix test. At home I have trained with him alone on our racetrack, and there we have found a harmony, which we can now show also in the dressage ring. Renoir-Unicef has become much rounder in his outline, and I need less power to keep him together, which especially benefits the canter tour.”
Wolfram Wittig, the trainer of Isabell Werth, finished second aboard the stallion Breitling (73.80%), who also showed himself to be more relaxed and improved. However, his rider considers this mainly to be because the breeding season is over and the stallion can better concentrate on dressage work.
U.S. Riders Make Strong Starts
Michael Barisone and the 9-year-old, Dutch gelding Neruda made an excellent impression in the two Grand Prix tests. Having achieved top placings in U.S. international competitions in 2003-04, it was their first common trip to Europe. Barisone, of Gladstone, N.J, runs a dressage stable together with his wife Vera. In October he moved to Klaus Balkenhol’s stable, and at the beginning of November he used the Oldenburg horse show as a warm-up.
Obviously he and Balkenhol did a brilliant job, since Neruda presented at Frankfurt in a very convincing way, with great moments in the extensions as well as in the piaffe-passage tour and in the canter changes, which were jumped very forward-upward. Neruda’s drive and impulsion from the hindquarters in the extensions could not have been better. With a tenth place (69.13%) in the Grand Prix, the pair qualified for the Grand Prix Special, in which they placed seventh with the remarkable score of 68.44 percent.
“Without the mistake in the canter tour I could have made 70 percent,” Barisone said. “To be seventh in the Special at CDI Frankfurt is much more than I had hoped for in my first big show in Europe. After the Grand Prix a lot of people came to me and congratulated me, which gave me a lot of confidence.”
Barisone’s immediate goal is to qualify among the four U.S. riders for the 2005 Dressage World Cup Final at Las Vegas.
“My farther aim is to make the 2006 WEG team,” he said. “I have been very close to a team nomination many times and have been long-listed over the last several years with four different horses. I guess this is the horse to reach my goal.”
Pierre St. Jacques and the 9-year-old Lucky Tiger also competed for the United States at Frankfurt. As the rider from Boscawen, N.H., said, he did not originally plan to compete in German shows during the pair’s first stay together in Europe.
“I came to train with Klaus Balkenhol, but when I got the chance to compete at Oldenburg and Frankfurt, I decided to take it. Oldenburg was the first Grand Prix ever for Lucky Tiger, Frankfurt just the second,” he said.
The 2003 Pan American gold-medal team members went home with a ribbon, placing eighth (65.59%) in the Intermediaire II. In the Grand Prix they scored 60.13 percent and did not qualify for the Special. Despite several faults, the potential of Lucky Tiger was clear, and St. Jacques hopes to avoid the mistakes after the bay gelding acquires more experience in the Grand Prix ring. “He is very powerful and still sometimes too eager to do the movements,” he said. “He still has to become more relaxed.”
Sporthaus Verden developed a most attractive way to show spectators the results of each movement during the test. A four-sided board hanging from the roof in the middle of the arena showed spectators not only the scores for the last movement, but for the five last movements. In this way, one did not have to look up too many times, to not miss scores. Hopefully other shows will also implement this new system.