For Isabell Werth and Warum Nicht FRH, the hardest part of winning the World Cup-qualifying Grand Prix freestyleat the Frankfurt CDI (Germany), Dec. 13-16, wasn’t really the competition, but the atmosphere.
In the Grand Prix test on Saturday, Warum Nicht seemed unsettled and neighed several times in the test. They had several mistakes, including an unplanned reversal in one canter pirouette.
“Suddenly we went in another direction than I had intended,” said Werth. They placed fourth, with a 69.25 percent.
“He had been going well in the arena during the training on Friday and Saturday morning and also in the warm-up tent before the competition. But entering the arena we had to face some surprises, which neither I nor ‘Hannes’ had expected. The spectators are sitting close to the ring, and the flash bulbs are very disturbing.”
The next day, during the freestyle, Hannes settled a bit, and they won with a 79.25 percent. It was their second World Cup-qualifying freestyle win, after earning victory at the Odense CDI (Denmark) at the end of November. Werth and Hannes, the 2007 FEI World Cup Final winners, are automatically qualified for the 2008 Final but needed to participate in two qualifiers to compete there.
American Courtney King continued her European tour, placing seventh in the freestyle with Mythilus (71.40%). It was Mythilus’ first World Cup-qualifying class. After the Grand Prix class, where they also placed seventh (66.95%), King had been upset with herself.
“I could not bring the same performance into the competition ring as in the warm-up arena,” she said.
Nevertheless, considering the top starting field, seventh place proves that they are going in the right direction. The piaffe-passage tour is so excellently done that it should receive the highest scores.
None of the riders at Frankfurt were really faultless. Last year’s winners—Silvia Iklé and Salieri CH of Switzerland—had some small flaws but once again showed excellent piaffe-passage movements. They claimed second behind Werth in the freestyle with 76.70 percent.
“We had two mistakes in the tempi changes, and to beat a combination like Isabell Werth and Warum Nicht FRH you have to be faultless. Salieri CH is not really impressed by the arena. He likes to be in the spotlight and among people,” Iklé said.
Though she qualified to compete in the 2007 FEI World Cup Final, Iklé declined, choosing to focus on the European Championships. This year, the 2008 Olympics, where Swizterland will field a dressage team, is her focus.
Iklé and Salieri CH took second in the Grand Prix as well, behind Monica Theodorescu and Whisper. In the Grand Prix, Whisper—a promising 9-year-old gelding—was relaxed despite the decorated and noisy atmosphere. But in the freestyle, they had several mistakes and placed just ninth (69.30%).
The 17th edition of the Nuernberger Burg-Pokal Final went to 21-year-old Austrian rider Victoria Max-Theurer. This was the first time that a non-German rider has won the Prix St. Georges-level final, but at least her horse Augustin is an Oldenburg stallion, though bred by her own family in Austria.
Augustin is a special horse, since his sire—August der Starke—has only four offspring. August der Starke, also owned by the Max-Theurer family, performed to the Grand Prix level with Victoria, is normally not used for breeding. Augustin, who was—at 7—the youngest horse of the final, is the oldest offspring.
“It was a Mother’s Day gift for my mother,” explained Victoria. “She really had so strongly wished for an offspring of August der Starke, who was just 4 years old at that time and had just made his stallion test. My father was pretty much against it, because he thought that Augustin should concentrate on horse shows. But we made an exception and allowed him to cover the dam of Augustin.”
Second place went to Oliver Oelrich aboard the 9-year-old Oldenburg stallion Show Star. Though it was his debut in the Nuernberger Burg-Pokal Final, the dressage instructor qualified two horses for the final—Show Star and Davenport.
“I have a very high opinion of this Final,” Oelrich said. “For me, it is really like a German Championship for 7- to 9-year-old horses at Prix St. Georges level.”