Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2024

Satchmo Redeems Himself At Stuttgart

Isabell Werth puts past mistakes behind her as she wins it all.

Isabell Werth made a clean sweep of the international classes held at the Stuttgart CDI, Nov. 19-23 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Not only did she win the Grand Prix for the freestyle (77.54%) and the Grand Prix freestyle (81.10%) on Warum Nicht FRH, but she also claimed the Grand Prix for the Special (77.37%) and the Grand Prix Special on her mount for the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, Satchmo.

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Isabell Werth puts past mistakes behind her as she wins it all.

Isabell Werth made a clean sweep of the international classes held at the Stuttgart CDI, Nov. 19-23 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Not only did she win the Grand Prix for the freestyle (77.54%) and the Grand Prix freestyle (81.10%) on Warum Nicht FRH, but she also claimed the Grand Prix for the Special (77.37%) and the Grand Prix Special on her mount for the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, Satchmo.

Her victory in the Special gave Werth her seventh consecutive German Master title. Not only victory itself counts but also how it is achieved, and she and Satchmo won the Grand Prix Special with a brilliant performance and a new personal record for the Special of 79.36 percent.

Werth and Satchmo had a stressful Olympic Games experience in Hong Kong this summer when the elegant bay gelding showed extreme resistance to the piaffe in both the Grand Prix freestyle and Grand Prix Special tests. Their performances in other movements made up for the mistakes, and Werth returned to Germany with team gold and individual silver, but she still had something to prove.

“This was the comeback of Satchmo,” she declared. “I am happy and proud that he was able to prove that in Hong Kong it wasn’t resistance but a cramp in his back. Satchmo deserved to win individual gold at Hong Kong. “I’m more than happy. You think a lot of thoughts before a competition like the Olympic Games, and you hope that you can deliver a performance as you have shown in the approach to the Olympics. At Hong Kong, [Satchmo’s misbehavior] took me by surprise. After that, I had thousands of thoughts why things happened as they did.”

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Upon Satchmo’s return to Germany, a veterinary exam revealed back problems that might have caused the resistance to piaffe. After his back was treated, Werth turned Satchmo out for a two-week vacation with his companion pony. Then, she started to slowly prepare him for the fall indoor season.

“In the Grand Prix [at Stuttgart], I had a very good and secure feeling with Satchmo, and in the Special I had a super ride. The second piaffe got crooked, so I tried to get Satchmo a bit more straight by riding slightly forward. Everyone could see that there was no thought about resistance when he reacted to this correction.

“[This show] was very important for the horse. If he had had problems in the piaffe again, everybody would have talked about it. I could have explained about his back and a pulled muscle, and nobody would have believed it. Today the horse was again himself. I am very proud of this fact.”

Werth knew she had something to prove in Satchmo’s first show since Hong Kong. “I grinned to myself when we were approaching the piaffe. Everyone was sitting there, waiting for something to happen. In the turn before the piaffe, I tried to make Satchmo more attentive, to perform a well-done transition into the piaffe. But I had never the feeling that something bad would happen.”

British rider Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris came in second to Satchmo in the Grand Prix Special,
scoring a 74.80 percent. Bechtolsheimer, 23, presented the Danish gelding in a relaxed and supple manner. In the piaffes, he was elastically swinging in the back and showed active steps with his front and hind legs, but could still have taken more weight with the hindquarters and could have shown more self-carriage.

Werth’s teammate for Olympic gold, Nadine Capellmann, wasn’t happy with her Grand Prix Special test on Elvis VA. In the Grand Prix the day before, she took second in spite of making an error.

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But in the Grand Prix Special, the Hanoverian gelding cantered during the trot half-passes and made mistakes in the tempi changes. They placed ninth (69.28%). Capellmann plans to renew her training relationship with Klaus Balkenhol in 2009, after he steps down as the U.S. dressage team’s chef d’equipe.

The Grand Prix freestyle became a battle between two former World Cup champions. The Finnish rider Kyra Kyrklund, who won the FEI World Cup Final in 1991 on Matador, set the pace aboard the Swedish Warmblood gelding Max, with a 79.05 percent for a harmonic, fluent ride to the melodies of the musical Cabaret.

But, then came the 2007 World Cup champions, Werth and Warum Nicht FRH, who bested the mark of the Finnish rider by 2 percentage points, scoring an 81.10 percent.

“The ride was filled with electricity,” Werth said. “ ‘Hannes’ was full of power, but the correspondence with the music was perfect today. We had only one small mistake in the two-tempi changes. But the one-tempis worked out very well, as well as the pirouettes. In the piaffes, Hannes has improved a lot over the last six months. I am very satisfied with him.“

With a score of 72.15 percent, American rider Heather Blitz and the 12-year-old, Danish gelding Otto achieved eighth place in the Grand Prix freestyle and the Grand Prix for the freestyle. Her freestyle test showed some nice piaffes, while the passage could have had a bit more cadence. She had a good, rhythmic walk and an overall well done canter tour, while the trot extensions missed a bit of fluency. Otto has since been sold to Cherry Knoll Farm, and U.S. rider Todd Flettrich will take over the ride.

American rider Catherine Haddad missed qualifying for the freestyle after placing 11th in the Grand Prix for the freestyle (66.87%) on the 11-year-old, Danish gelding Cadillac. She also failed to qualify for the Grand Prix Special, placing 15th in the Grand Prix for the Special (63.37%) on Sir Sherlock.

Birgit Popp

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