Sunday, Apr. 21, 2024

Isabell Werth Wins It All At Stuttgart

The German can’t be beat, but U.S. rider Courtney King makes her presence known.

German dressage icon Isabell Werth quite simply dominated the Stuttgart German Masters CDI, Nov. 16-18, in Stuttgart, Germany. Werth won the Grand Prix for the freestyle and the Grand Prix freestyle aboard Warum Nicht FRH and then conquered the Grand Prix for the Special and the Grand Prix Special on Satchmo.
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The German can’t be beat, but U.S. rider Courtney King makes her presence known.

German dressage icon Isabell Werth quite simply dominated the Stuttgart German Masters CDI, Nov. 16-18, in Stuttgart, Germany. Werth won the Grand Prix for the freestyle and the Grand Prix freestyle aboard Warum Nicht FRH and then conquered the Grand Prix for the Special and the Grand Prix Special on Satchmo.

And while the spotlight shone on Werth, American Courtney King scored her own personal victories with admirable performances on her veteran Idocus and her rising star Mythilus. King is currently training with Klaus Balkenhol in Germany, and plans to return to the United States at the end of December for the Florida circuit.

King and Idocus placed eighth in the Grand Prix for the freestyle with 66.54 percent.

“I was very happy with our Grand Prix test,” King said. “Idocus was light on the bit, responding very well to the aids and I think there were no major mistakes. I had hoped he would have scored higher.”

But things didn’t go quite as well in her freestyle.

“The music started and Idocus got heavy in my hand. That made everything difficult and nothing was as good as it could be,” King said.“This was the second time that this happened, both times when the music starts. It seems to me that Idocus somehow dislikes this kind of music. I would really like to change the music to one he enjoys more to become really competitive in the freestyle.”

It’s a pity that the expressive, 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion doesn’t like the American-style parade music, since it fits so well to his freestyle. The test appeared much better to spectators than it must have felt to King. The piaffes as well as the canter pirouettes were well-settled, active and light in the forehand. The whole ride had a lot of expression.

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Furthermore, Idocus was one of the few horses who stood correctly and squarely in the final salute. With 70.20 percent the combination placed eighth.

King rode Mythilus in the Grand Prix Special tour in the 13-year-old gelding’s, first international outing. They scored 69.16 percent to qualify for the Grand Prix Special.

“I was really happy with my Grand Prix with Mythilus,” she said. “It was a safe and clean Grand Prix test, and Mythilus really stayed with me. He was light on the bridle and confident.”

One of the highlights of this test was the second piaffe, which was active and in good rhythm, while the one-tempi changes could have been more upward and forward.

 “In the Grand Prix I was still riding for a safe, clean test. But when the Grand Prix left Mythilus very confident, I wanted really to go for it in the Special,” she said. “But today he was spooky at the sponsor banners. In the trot tour we had some mistakes, but I think the canter tour was really good.”

The piaffe-passage-tour had some great highlights; there were few other horses performing the transitions between piaffe and passage so well and in such a good rhythm. A break in the second canter pirouette cost them significant points, though. With 65.08 percent, they placed only 12th in the Special, but the Grand Prix showed in which direction the scores can go and King does aim to go to the Olympic trials with both horses.

Werth plans to defend her World Cup Final title with Warum Nicht, or “Hannes.” The giant chestnut gelding, 11, has shown very lightly this year. They won the Grand Prix for the freestyle with a 76.33 percent and then the freestyle with a 79.30 percent. Werth knew there was room for improvement.

“There was some tension especially in the beginning of the test and again at the end. The final line could have done better, but I was happy that I brought the test to a good end,” Werth said. “Certainly, Hannes needs  some more show practice again to be back to top form.”

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In the Grand Prix Special tour, Werth and Satchmo, the reigning World and European Champions in the Grand Prix Special, won both the Grand Prix and the Special in an overwhelming manner.

Stuttgart was Satchmo’s first time back in the ring since his individual gold in Italy at the European Championships in the beginning of September.

“I am happy that he did so well in his first indoor show of this season,” Werth said of the 13-year-old gelding. “We had a trusting relationship at the beginning of our career together. For a while, we had lost this trust, but now it is back.”

This trust became obvious when Werth entered the arena with Satchmo at the walk on a long rein, with more than 8,000 spectators cheering the rider before her. She rode halfway around the arena in extended walk on a loose rein, before taking up the reins and starting to proceed in passage.

Their Special test, which they won with a 75.83 percent, was only marred by two small flaws. Satchmo wanted to start trotting in the extended walk, but Werth brought him back into the right rhythm. He also overreacted to her leg slightly in the canter half-passes. Especially well-done were the extended trots, with good lengthening of the frame and very active, swinging hind legs.

Fellow German Nadine Capellmann rode Elvis VA to second in both the Grand Prix for the Special and the Special. They were on their way to a stellar Special test when Capellmann went off course. She recovered quickly, and they scored 75.32 percent with the error.

“I was surprised that I could go on so relaxed, I must admit,” Capellmann said. “I had been so concentrating on the piaffe and passage that I forgot what came next. It is amazing that this happens to an old veteran like me.”

Birgit Popp

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