Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2024

Checkmate Makes A Winning Move At Wiesbaden

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum goes as fast as she can to take the top check, while U.S. riders put in a good showing.

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum added yet another win to her recent string of victories at the Wiesbaden CSI, May 9-12 in Wiesbaden, Germany.

This time, Checkmate stepped up to the plate and delivered a win in the Grand Prix of Wiesbaden, a class that his stablemate, Shutterfly, won in 2006. It was all about speed in Round 2 of the grand prix, as the top 10 riders from Round 1 returned with a clean slate.
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Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum goes as fast as she can to take the top check, while U.S. riders put in a good showing.

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum added yet another win to her recent string of victories at the Wiesbaden CSI, May 9-12 in Wiesbaden, Germany.

This time, Checkmate stepped up to the plate and delivered a win in the Grand Prix of Wiesbaden, a class that his stablemate, Shutterfly, won in 2006. It was all about speed in Round 2 of the grand prix, as the top 10 riders from Round 1 returned with a clean slate.

Michaels-Beerbaum took the shortest turns possible aboard the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding Checkmate, finishing in 41.56 seconds.

Michaels-Beerbaum admitted a special fondness for the Wiesbaden venue, where there is a special atmosphere but also unique demands for horse and rider, since the course winds through old trees. When the sun shines, riders have to contend with some unusual shadows on the ground and fences.

“I am very happy that the class went as well as it did,” said Michaels-Beerbaum. “Checkmate just went wonderfully. He kept his focus and he never got flat at the fence, even out of highest speed.”

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Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst and the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding Lord Luis, who had had 1 time fault in the first round, produced a clear round in 44.10 seconds, slowed by the kicking-out of Lord Luis. The only U.S. rider to enter the second round was Richard Spooner with Cristallo, a Caretino son. But Spooner’s one rail would leave him with the fastest four-fault round, in 42.87 seconds.

Edwina Alexander and Itot du Chateau looked to be on pace to beat Michaels-Beerbaum but slowed a bit in the second half of the course and finished clear in 43.25 seconds for third place.

“Considering that I’ve only ridden the horse just for a few months, we’ve done well, so far,” Alexander said. “I didn’t plan to ride so fast in the jump-off. At the end I was surprised how fast we were.”

Wiesbaden Tidbits

•    Richard Spooner guided the Holsteiner stallion Ace to second place in the Championat of Wiesbaden and Cristallo to seventh in the Grand Prix of Wiesbaden.

•    All three U.S. riders qualified for the Grand Prix of Wiesbaden. In the qualifying class, Spooner placed 23rd with one rail down, Lauren Hough rode Quick Study to 26th with one rail, and Cedric had a rail with Laura Kraut for 35th. In the grand prix, Kraut and Cedric were 16th with 4 faults, while Hough and Quick Study had two rails.

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•    Ludger Beerbaum’s new ride, Coupe de Coeur, had one rail down in the first round of the grand prix. “I have ridden the horse just for three weeks now and still the fine tuning must take place,” Beerbaum said. “Sometimes I can still not ride him exactly in the distance I want to, but I am very confident that we will get along better together.” Beerbaum’s owner, Madeline Winter-Schulze bought Coupe de Coeur—
formerly ridden by fellow German Rene Tebbel—for Beerbaum to ride in early April.

•    In the Prize of Hessen speed class, Kraut came in fourth with the 9-year-old French-bred son of Quidam de Revel, Le Prestige St. Lois. In the Wiesbaden Speed, Lauren Hough rode Casadora to second place.

Her partner, Jan Tops, bought Itot du Chateau for her five months ago. Alexander was actually in her native Australia when the 12-year-old Selle Français stallion went on the market, so Tops bought him without Alexander ever having ridden him. “We had seen the stallion before at many horse shows and I get along well with him,” Alexander said. “He will be my horse for the Hong Kong Olympics, but also Pialotta [her 2006 World Equestrian Games mount] will return into the sport for the outdoor season.”

German Marcus Ehning separated the two ladies, slotting into second place with a promising new star, Vulkano FRH. He rode the 9-year-old Hanoverian stallion to a clean round in 43.13 seconds. “I watched Meredith in the second round, and she used all her experience to go that fast. I am satisfied with my second place, especially with a young horse.”

Ehning’s brother, Johannes, rode Vulkano to win the Youngster Cup Final at Munich (Germany) as a 7-year-old. Ehning took over the ride last December, and Wiesbaden was just his sixth time showing the horse. “After Gitania has gone into breeding, I am very happy to have such a good young horse in my barn, with which I can continue with former successes,” Ehning said.

A new German star looms on the horizon, as Mario Stevens, 26, won the Golden UPS Trophy. Stevens has the ride on the experienced 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding MacKinley, the former ride of Rolf-Göran Bengtsson. “My trainer, Ludger Beerbaum, advised me not to go all out on MacKinley in the jump-off but to save him for the grand prix the next day. But, after some riders had withdrawn and I really had a good go, I just went for it. MacKinley and I are really working well together, thanks to Beerbaum, with whom I have been training for the last two years. But, also Rolf-Göran Bengtsson has given me a lot of good hints about how to get along the best with MacKinley.”

Stevens’ short-term goal is the German Championships in Balve in mid-June. “Let’s see how it goes there and what else Ludger Beerbaum and the German team coach Kurt Gravemeier have in their plans for me,” he said.

Birgit Popp

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