Monday, Apr. 15, 2024

Werth Takes Over At Aachen


The Aachen Grand Prix dressage competitions couldn’t have gone any better for Isabell Werth. “For me, Aachen has been an incredible show and an incredible week. I was competing with a lot of horses and was trying to keep concentrating from one horse and ride to another,” Werth said.
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The Aachen Grand Prix dressage competitions couldn’t have gone any better for Isabell Werth. “For me, Aachen has been an incredible show and an incredible week. I was competing with a lot of horses and was trying to keep concentrating from one horse and ride to another,” Werth said.

At the end of the week, July 3-8 in Aachen, Germany, Werth had the individual titles in the CDIO tour Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special, and Grand Prix freestyle to her credit on Satchmo and added the team gold for Germany in the Nations Cup. She also added victories in the Grand Prix and Special tests of the CDI tour on FRH Warum Nicht.

“I am unbelievably proud of ‘Hannes’ and even more of Satchmo and unbelievably happy,” Werth said.
In all three competitions, Werth and Satchmo defeated the 2006 freestyle World Champions, Anky van Grunsven and Keltec Salinero. It was the first time that van Grunsven and Salinero did not win a freestyle test in their career together. But, van Grunsven was nevertheless satisfied with her Aachen.

“Since [taking time off to have a daughter on March 6], Aachen has been just my third show with Salinero, and he is still lacking show mileage,” van Grunsven said. “In general, he was in good form, but there were too many small mistakes. Salinero sometimes got too nervous and hot, but in many transitions he was quite relaxed. All week long it was changing back and forth. But, I have to be realistic. I wanted to have children and I have very nice kids and I have a beautiful horse and I am very happy with both. What I am lacking now is the practice at horse shows.”

Riding The Narrow Edge
For Werth, Aachen marked the debut of her new freestyle for Satchmo. Her new music is based on songs from Vangelis, vocally interpreted by the Spanish soprano legend Montserrat Caballé.

“For Gigolo I had found the song ‘Just A Gigolo’—exactly the right music for him. With ‘March With Me’ I succeeded to do this also for Satchmo,” Werth said. “When I heard the piece the first time, I thought immediately, ‘That is the right freestyle music for piaffe and passage for Satchmo.’ The title of the song expresses what I think of Satchmo, but the music itself also expresses my feelings about him. It is the first time that I have created the choreography after the music and not the other way round.”

But the music didn’t arrive until Werth was already at Aachen, and she was only able to practice her freestyle once with the music before the competition. In their performance, Werth and Satchmo had just two small mistakes in the technically difficult choreography. They missed once when changing from the two-tempi to the one-tempi canter changes and in the zig-zag canter half passes, which Werth hid very skillfully.
 
“To put a very demanding choreography together is a very narrow edge. I have to watch that I do not get caught up in the difficulties and forget to ride anymore because of all the difficult movements. But, considering the excellent freestyle tests of Anky, we had to add something to it. Today, I had the feeling I could ride everything. Today, everything went right.”

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While Werth and van Grunsven battled it out for first and second on the CDIO tour, another heated contest raged for third and fourth. Sweden’s Jan Brink and the stallion Briar and Silvia Iklé with Salieri CH of Switzerland traded places in the three tests’ results. In the Grand Prix, Ikle prevailed, taking third to Brink’s fourth. Both combinations showed highlights in piaffe and passage but had their weak points in the trot extensions. Ikle and Salieri were third in the Special again, but Brink and Briar took over the third spot in the freestyle.

More Wins For Werth
Werth’s wins weren’t limited to the CDIO tour—she also rode Warum Nicht FRH to the top of the CDI Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special. In the CDI tour, the rider must choose between the Special and the freestyle, so Werth sat out the freestyle, which was won by van Grunsven and the 10-year-old, highly talented Dutch Warmblood stallion Painted Black.

American riders Arlene “Tuny” Page and Catherine Haddad, competed in the CDI tour in both of their Aachen debuts. Haddad and Maximus JSS placed eighth in the Grand Prix (66.75%).

The marks for the first piaffe, which was very well settled, active and in good rhythm, diverged between 5s and 7s. The second piaffe was a bit swinging and received five 6s, while the last piaffe was not totally in rhythm.

Haddad chose to compete in the freestyle and had a pleasant ride, with a relaxed, ground-covering walk. They also had highlights in the canter tour and in the one- and two-tempis to claim fourth in the freestyle.

Page and the 11-year-old, Hanoverian gelding Wild One came in 16th in the Grand Prix. They had started very well, with piaffes and transitions collecting 8s, while the judges diverged on the passage between 5s and 8s. The extended trot could have had some more energy from behind. The extended walk was well-done, but the collected walk lost rhythm.

In the Special, the combination placed eighth (63.60%), with a ride highlighted by the extended walk and trot, but in general the horse could have shown more self-carriage.

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King Makes An Impressive Aachen Debut
Courtney King made her Aachen debut and let it be known that she’s a rider to watch in the future.  The well-seated, elegant dressage instructor from Bedford, N.Y., placed 19th in the CDIO Grand Prix test (66.87%) aboard Idocus, but improved in the Special to a remarkable 11th place (68.48%). They repeated that placing in the freestyle with a 71.30 percent.

King and Idocus showed passage and piaffe movements receiving up to 8s and a very ground covering, rhythmical and relaxed walk. Their freestyle test to Broadway musical melodies had a high degree of difficulty—going directly from two-tempi canter changes into one-tempi changes–and was very well performed.

“It is an amazing great feeling to proceed into the freestyle,” King said.  “I was very happy with my Grand Prix test, though we had a mistake in the very last change in the one-tempis. I guess I was too relaxed that they were going so well. In the Special, I actually did not feel so well and so did Idocus. He did not rest well in the stables, nor did I sleep well.  But, I was very happy with the result.

“The freestyle felt much better, so he was a bit tired. I am also very happy about how we were received here at Aachen. Though in the Grand Prix test my score was not very high, the judges gave very nice comments. It is very important for me to come to Europe and get known to the judges and get to know them. The score did go up everyday. The judges liked us as a combination.

“Although I had to renounce my participation in the Pan American Games, I think it has been a good decision to come to Aachen. It has been a very positive experience for me. I hope to come back to Europe this fall with my other horses.”

Steffen Peters joined King on the Aachen’s CDIO tour, and placed 12th in the Grand Prix on Lombardi 11 (68.16%). In the Grand Prix Special, it did not go as well and they placed only 20th (66.64%). After a relaxed and rhythmical walk, Lombardi showed some resistance going into the first piaffe and received for the piaffe and for the transitions only 1s and 2s, which dropped him from 72 to 64 percent.

Lombardi showed how well he can piaffe on the last center line, but the judges did not reward the improvement, giving only 6s and 7s.  Lombardi’s one- and two-tempi flying changes were a highlight of the tests.  They were very well settled and with forward, upward tendency.

Birgit Popp

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