Leipzig, Germany – A strong field of 15 riders from nine nations contested Saturday evening’s Grand Prix Freestyle, to bring the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final to a close. There were three nations that qualified three riders each for tonight’s class: the United States, The Netherlands and Germany. America’s Catherine Haddad-Staller, Shawna Harding and Jan Ebeling performed up-tempo freestyles in front of a large audience in Hall One of the Leipzig Exhibition Center.
Haddad-Staller (Vechta, Germany) and her own Winyamaro started the evening’s competition with an impressive freestyle. The music selection played up the Hanoverian gelding’s expressive gaits and allowed for his character to shine through. Highlights of Haddad-Staller’s test included expressive lateral work and her one-handed canter extension. The pair rode to a score of 70.161% and finished the Grand Prix Freestyle in 12th place.
Fellow American, Shawna Harding, followed Haddad-Staller into the ring with an equally fun ride, scoring 67.625%. Harding (Aiken, SC) and her own Come On III started their test with a high degree of difficulty by performing tempi-changes upon her entrance on the centerline. Come On III was more relaxed in his extended walk tonight than he was during Thursday’s Grand Prix test and had beautiful half-passes in both the trot and canter. This pair ended their test with an exclamation point by finishing completely in sync with their music. Harding and Come On III finished in 14th place.
Leipzig (GER), 1 May 2011 – Boyd Exell from Australia has successfully defended his FEI World Cup Driving title in a thrilling finish in Leipzig (GER) to become only the second driver to score a hat-trick of World Cup victories. The popular Australian sped to victory in front of an enthusiastic and ecstatic crowd that packed the Leipzig Messe to capacity. Hungary’s Jozsef Dobrovitz drove two brilliant rounds with his team of Lipizzaner horses to finish second, ahead of IJsbrand Chardon from the Netherlands.
Happy to be first Jozsef Dobrovitz was happy to go first in the Final round. In Budapest he had won the warm-up competition but made mistakes in the Final round, so he felt the starting grid Leipzig would favour him. His only goal in the first round was to equal Boyd’s time on the first night and to stay clear as well. Dobrovitz put in an amazing performance to meet both his goals and pile the pressure on his opponents.
Second starter IJsbrand Chardon was determined to make up for his mistake on the first night, but his leader horses started pushing against each other in the warm-up arena and there was not enough time left for IJsbrand to fix it. The result was three knockdowns on course, but Chardon kept on driving at such high speed that he finished in a record time of 113.89 seconds, to slot into second behind Dobrovitz. Chardon had no expectations of making it to the Winning Round but Georg von Stein (GER), Werner Ulrich (SUI), Koos de Ronde (NED) and Tomas Eriksson (SWE) all made mistakes, which kept Chardon in second place. After Exell had conquered the course in a fast time despite one knockdown, it was clear that the colourful trio was going to battle it out in the Winning Round.
Leipzig (GER), 30 April 2011 – The dream came true for the Netherlands’ Adelinde Cornelissen tonight when the biggest Sugar Plum Fairy of them all, the magnificent Jerich Parzival, danced to victory in the Reem Acra FEI World Cup 2010/2011 Final at Leipzig, Germany. To the strains of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite the 14-year-old gelding produced another powerful performance in the hands of his 31-year-old rider who has endured plenty of disappointments over the last few years. But at last it was her turn to stand in the limelight she has so long deserved. The spotlight is not something Parzival revels in, as his post-presentation antics confirmed, but the partnership has now entered the equestrian history books as the 11th Dutch winners of the coveted title.
Repeating the result of yesterday’s Grand Prix, Denmark’s Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and Digby finished second, while Germany’s Ulla Salzgeber steered Herzruf’s Erbe into third. The 2010 title-winner, Edward Gal (GER), finished fourth with a great performance from the ever-more-confident Sisther de Jeu, while Germany’s Isabell Werth and Satchmo were fifth ahead of Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Watermill Scandic in sixth.
The spectators had strong opinions about what they saw in the Leipzig arena tonight and didn’t hold back in expressing them, but they celebrated Cornelissen’s win with all the enthusiasm a new champion deserves.
Leipzig, Germany – The EY Cup, held in conjunction with the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final, came to close in Leipzig this morning with the final round of the CSI2*. The six Americans riders that have been contesting the competition all week looked to complete their time in Germany on a high note. With each competitor limited to riding one horse, there was all to play for over Frank Rothenberger’s 1.45m course. Twenty-nine combinations would start the first round with six returning to the jump-off.
Reed Kessler of Armonk, NY lead the American effort placing fifth with her Swedish Warmblood Ligist. Throughout the three rounds of the EY Cup, Kessler improved her performance each time she entered the ring. As the sixth horse in the ring, Ligist jumped a confident clear round to be the first to qualify to return for the shortened course.
“I had some really bad luck yesterday, I had a really fast time and he just nicked the back rail in front which is so unlike him. The luck evened out today, as he nicked the first couple, after the first few jumps he started jumping really well. I was definitely excited to be the only clean American.”
Leipzig, Germany – The Rolex/FEI World Cup Final saw a shuffle throughout the standings after the conclusion of the second round this afternoon. With forty-four World Cup points up for grabs and the chance to head into the final round on zero faults, clear rounds were at a premium. Forty horse/rider combinations jumped Frank Rothenberger’s impressive track, with seven riders representing six different nations returning for the jump-off.
In Sunday’s final only the top twenty-nine riders from the first two rounds will have the opportunity to jump in the championship. The US will be represented by seven riders in this round and McLain Ward (Brewster, NY) will lead the charge as the top placed American.
Ward rebounded from Thursday’s first round, which saw him lower two rails despite posting a competitive time. Today Ward riding Antares F and the pair jumped a stylish clear round to be the third horse to qualify for the jump-off. The Wurttemberger gelding owned by Grant Road Partners, LLC demonstrated immaculate jumping to make light work of Friday’s initial course.
Leipzig (GER) 29 April 2011 – Title defender Boyd Exell from Australia has won the warm up round of the FEI World Cup Driving Final in Leipzig this evening. The current four-in-hand World Champion was the only driver who finished the course in a clear round. Sweden’s Tomas Eriksson came second driving his brand new marathon carriage. Dutch driver Koos de Ronde finished third.
Ring rusty The competitors were all a bit ring rusty after a break of several months. Some drivers competed in the last World Cup competition in Bordeaux at the start of February; others had an even longer break after the show in Mechelen at the end of December.
Wild card replacement Home driver Georg von Stein replaced wild card driver Christian Plücker who unfortunately had to withdraw only two days ago because of two injured horses. Plücker had won the special indoor competition at the German Equestrian Centre in Warendorf in February and had herewith claimed the wild card. Von Stein finished second and was therefore the first candidate to replace Plücker. Von Stein had kept on training his horses so it was not difficult for him to prepare his team for his first ever World Cup start. Von Stein finished fifth in tonight’s competition, behind Switzerland’s Werner Ulrich.
Leipzig, Germany – The Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final got underway Thursday evening with the grand prix presented by Sparkasse. The U.S. sent three combinations to the arena in Hall One of the Leipzig Exhibition Hall. The American horse/rider combinations did not disappoint in the field of 17.
First in the arena for the U.S. were Jan Ebeling and Ann Romney’s Rafalca. This veteran pair demonstrated fluid trot work emphasized by a solid half-pass and had a consistent canter tour. Throughout the test, Rafalca was the picture of obedience and finished with a fluent centerline.
The 52-year-old from Moorpark, CA, could not have been more proud of his longtime partner and found vindication tonight for a tense FEI World Cup Final debut in Las Vegas in 2009.
“I couldn’t be happier with her, she didn’t really have any mistakes and she handled the arena really well, for me that was one thing I really wanted to show everyone, she is not as silly as she was two years ago in Vegas.”
Rafalca and Ebeling earned a score of 68.191% to finish the grand prix in 10th place.
Leipzig, Germany – The Leipzig Exhibition Center hosted the first round of the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Final, the speed leg, this afternoon and all ten American combinations looked to get a head start on the competition. Frank Rothenberger set a scopey yet technical course that tested all 43 competitors in the 2011 Final and allowed for a number of different lines and options to be ridden. With the faults converted format, finding the correct balance between forward and efficient riding and careful jumping was the name of the game.
Margie Engle (Wellington, FL) piloted Gladewinds Farm, Garber, Griese and Hidden Creek Farm’s Indigo through the finish in a time of 65.62 seconds to stand in fifth place. Engle used all of her experience to guide the ground covering Dutch Warmblood gelding to an efficient clear round. A handy turn to the vertical at four and executing the inside turn to the ninth fence, the Rolex vertical, ensured the pair a strong result.
“I wanted to be in the top ten, and he was great. Once I started jumping he felt like he really focused on everything and rode great,” Engle said of the ever-maturing Indigo. “He’s never really gone in and gone fast in the first round so I wanted to just go medium because he tends to be high strung normally.”
Leipzig (GER), 28 April 2011 – The Netherlands’ Adelinde Cornelissen moved ever-closer to taking the 2010/2011 title tonight when recording a convincing victory in the Grand Prix with Jerich Parzival at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage final in Leipzig, Germany. Hotly-tipped to scoop the honours following a spectacular indoor season, the Dutch rider and her powerful chestnut gelding produced a confident performance that put a score of 80.957 on the scoreboard. And as German contenders Ulla Salzgeber and Isabell Werth had to settle for third and fourth places respectively, it was the Danish Princess, Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, who snatched runner-up spot with a personal-best result from Digby.
Nerves got in the way of the performances of some of the earliest contenders, but the second tranche of riders exploded into action with a lovely test from up-and-coming German star Helen Langehanenberg who steered Damon Hill NRW into a temporary lead with a mark of 73.480. However Cornelissen, drawn fifth from the end, broke completely new ground when Parzival earned 80.957. The strength of this partnership is now beyond any doubt, the rider super-confident and the horse long past the edgy moments that previously prevented him from showing his true potential. It is difficult to imagine that the Dutch partnership can be overtaken for the supreme award of this indoor international dressage season during which their class has been undeniable.