With a new freestyle, she and Satchmo are headed to Hong Kong.
At the Aachen CDIO, July 1-6 in Aachen, Germany, Isabell Werth proved that she’s ready to fight for gold medals at the upcoming Olympics in Hong Kong.
She and Satchmo topped the CDIO Grand Prix (76.91%), Grand Prix Special (78.64%) and Grand Prix freestyle (80.15%). Werth debuted a new freestyle at Aachen, and while it wasn’t mistake-free, it did show signs of brilliance.
“Satchmo is in outstanding form, which I will certainly not be able to preserve until Hong Kong [Aug. 10-19]. We have to take back his form a bit and then build him up again for Hong Kong. I hope that we can repeat our form at the Olympic Games as well, and maybe even improve it.”
But there’s also a new Dutch star looming on the horizon—Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival took second to Werth in all three of the CDIO-tour Grand Prix classes.
Werth, the reigning Grand Prix Special World and European Champion, used new music for her freestyle, while preserving most of the extremely difficult choreography she used at last year’s European Championships, in which the combination won the individual silver medal.
With her 80.15 percent in the freestyle, Werth showed she’s definitely going to be in contention for an individual medal. Without the mistakes she and Satchmo made—a few strides of canter in the beginning of the trot half-passes to the right and a mistake in the one-tempi changes—the score would have been even higher.
Werth wasn’t discouraged. “To ride to this music, which makes me very emotional, is really a very good feeling,” she said. “The fine-tuning in the freestyle has to improve still, and I have surprised Satchmo too much going into the half-passes and the one-tempis. The final version of the music did not get ready before last week, and at home we had concentrated on training for the Grand Prix and the Special. In the coming weeks, we will prepare the freestyle test even better.”
Werth has redone her “March With Me” freestyle, still using music by Vangelis but minimizing the vocal contribution of soprano Montserrat Caballe. Symphonic sounds now take the place of the vocal arias. Werth made the change in response to feedback she received from judges after the 2007 European Championships.
• There won’t be two individual medals—one for the Grand Prix Special and one for the Grand Prix freestyle—awarded at the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong, as there were at the 2006 World Equestrian Games. The percentages of each competitor’s scores in the Special and freestyle will be averaged, with equal weight, for a final percentage that will decide the individual medals. This is the first time that just the Special and freestyle will be used for individual placings; since 1996, scores from the Grand Prix, Special and freestyle were used in determining individual medals.
• Isabell Werth also dominated the CDI tour at Aachen, winning the Grand Prix (75.04%) and Special (73.28%) aboard Warum Nicht FRH.
• Praise must be given also to the oldest rider of the CDI tour. Based in Germany and having received several top placings with scores around 69 percent, the Japanese rider Hiroshi Hoketsu confirmed his good form in the CDI tour at Aachen. He went head-to-head with Isabell Werth on Warum Nicht FRH and Anky van Grunsven with Painted Black, placing fifth in the Grand Prix (70.37%) and fourth in the Grand Prix Special (69.40%) aboard his 11-year-old, Hanoverian mare, Whisper.
But Cornelissen caused quite the stir herself with her three second-placed finishes. Cornelissen, 26, rides as a professional but—until this year—also taught English part-time.
Cornelissen has trained Parzival, now 11, from a 4-year-old. They began to make their mark at the Grand Prix level in 2006, when they became the Dutch Indoor Grand Prix champions. They missed a spot on the Dutch Olympic team for Hong Kong because Parzival showed some spooky tendencies at the Dutch CDIs Arnhem and Rotterdam.
But at Aachen, international dressage judge Uwe Spenlen of Germany—commentating on the competition for Aachen Dressage Radio—said that Cornelissen and Parzival were “a picture of relaxation and harmony. It is a pleasure watching them in the test.”
Cornelissen is now a student of Anky van Grunsven’s partner, Sjef Janssen. Aachen was just her third show outside of the Netherlands.
Heike Kemmer on Bonaparte and Nadine Capellmann on Elvis VA used Aachen to prove to the German team selectors that they deserved to join Werth in Hong Kong. “We have decided on the experienced combinations, who we know have achieved scores around 74 percent in international championships,” said German team coach Holger Schmezer.
Monica Theodorescu will be the first reserve, with Whisper. They’ll join second reserve Matthias Rath with Sterntaler-UNICEF. Rath and Sterntaler-UNICEF—the German Men’s champion—had been
in team contention after the first trials at Balve (Germany), but Aachen didn’t go as well.
In the Grand Prix, Sterntaler-UNICEF began to falter in the canter zig-zags, then resisted the piaffe. They placed 18th. They redeemed themselves slightly in the Special, placing eighth, but it wasn’t good enough for a team spot.