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Special features, spotlights, headlines

US Horse Racing Top 4 Betting Events

Interest in horse racing in the United States has never been higher, with increased media coverage helping to promote the sport to a much wider audience in recent years.

Nowhere is that point better highlighted than in the United Kingdom, where Sky Sports Racing broadcasts live action from the US on a daily basis. This has created a scenario where the top-class races in the US now attract significantly more international entries, thus boosting the quality of the action.

Read on as we take a look at the four standout events in the US racing calendar – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup.

Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses held over 10 furlongs at Churchill Downs in early May. It is the first leg of the Triple Crown alongside the Preakness and Belmont, and generally attracts a field of 20 runners.

Horses can qualify for the event by accumulating points in a series of 35 races dubbed the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’, which take place at tracks across the US, Europe, and Asia.

Often called the ‘Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports’, the Derby regularly attracts more than 150,000 spectators to Churchill annually.

Preakness Stakes

Run over a slightly shorter distance of one and 3/16 of a mile, the Preakness Stakes is staged at Pimlico Racecourse on the third Saturday in May each year.

Attendance at the Preakness Stakes usually beats all other stakes races including the Belmont Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup, and the Kentucky Oaks. The only exception to this is the Kentucky Derby, which often attracts over 20,000 more spectators when it is staged earlier in the month.

Notable past winners of the Preakness include Secretariat, Affirmed, and American Pharoah, each of whom went on to complete the Triple Crown.

Belmont Stakes

Traditionally the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes is run at Belmont Park on the first or second Saturday in June. Run over one and a half miles, the race is widely viewed as the event which determines the best middle-distance horse in the US, according to the horse racing betting guide.

The most famous winner of the race was Secretariat, whose winning time 2:24.00 remains a track and world record for the distance on dirt.

Justify’s stunning victory under jockey Mike Smith in the 150th running of the race in 2018 saw him become the 13th Triple Crown champion.

The Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships is a series of Grade I thoroughbred races staged annually at different tracks in the US or Canada. It was initially a single-day event, before expanding into a second day in 2007 due to the enormous global interest in the meeting.

The Breeders’ Cup kicks off with Future Stars Friday, which comprises five top-class juvenile races featuring racing’s brightest rising stars. Championship Saturday is one of the richest days in racing, culminating with the hugely prestigious $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Helen and Annabelle Turn On the Magic in Madrid

Helen Langehanenberg and Annabelle. (FEI/Stefano Grasso)

It was a very particular triumph for German star Helen Langehanenberg when topping the third leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League in Madrid, Spain. The 39-year-old athlete is a former winner of the prestigious series, an Olympian and this summer became a European team gold medallist. But her success was all the sweeter because her brilliant but sensitive mare Annabelle really showed what she can do when she settles to her job.

“She is such a very special horse, full of talent but with so much temperament that she is not always easy, but I’m very happy today. I was last to go and there was plenty of pressure but that’s good for me; it means I just have to go for it! And today she allowed me to support her and it felt really good,” Langehanenberg said.

Chasing

She was chasing the score of the very first of the 12 athletes into the ring, Spanish superstar Beatriz Ferrer-Salat who set a really tough target for the rest when posting 79.220 with the 12-year-old mare Elegance, and who stayed out in front until the very last pair overtook her. On an afternoon of great sport, the home crowd had plenty to cheer about with five Spanish starters and two of them finishing in the top three when Juan Matute Guimon steered the 15-year-old gelding, Quantico, into third place.

Ferrer-Salat is a five-time Olympian and six-time national champion, and with the 12-year-old Elegance was a member of the Spanish team at this summer’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Putting her strong score on the board as the action got underway, she could then sit back and let the rest try to better it.

Compatriot Juan Matute Guimon was the first to come really close when scoring 78.160 with his 15-year-old gelding who put on a lovely show without ever looking under any pressure when third-last to go. The quality of the horse’s one-tempi changes down the centreline were a joy to watch, as was the athlete’s smile as he cruised to a great finish in piaffe/passage. At just 24 years old, the highly popular and super-talented Matute Guimon is already a legend, making a remarkable recovery from a brain bleed in May 2020 to bounce back to the very top of the game.

Grand Prix

Second-last into the ring was Germany’s Frederic Wandres who won the Short Grand Prix with Bluetooth OLD, but their mark of 77.230 would only be good enough for fourth spot when Langehanenberg and the extravagant mover Annabelle soared out in front with a score of 80.500.

Annabelle’s reach in the lateral movements is extraordinary, and she showed moments of real flamboyance. But for her rider it is always a case of getting the balance right in order to maintain control and to keep her confidence.

“When she was young, she was a real mare – when you touched her there wasn’t a centimetre between too much and not enough; it was so difficult to find the perfect aids for her, but I’m so happy with what we have reached now,” Langehanenberg said.

“It’s still only the beginning. I feel there is so much more we can do if she allows me to support her.  The more she does the more relaxed she becomes. She always has enough expression, but she doesn’t always have enough relaxation but routine will bring relaxation so I’m working on that. She’s easy to train, but she almost tries to be too perfect,” she explained.

Retirement

Runner-up, Ferrer-Salat, couldn’t attend the post-competition press conference because she was busy with a retirement ceremony for her great old campaigner, the 20-year-old Delgado. Third-placed Matute Guimon, meanwhile, was proud and honoured to be in the prizegiving ceremony with his compatriot, and with winner Langehanenberg.

“It’s such a cool feeling after my comeback in Lyon,” he said, referring to his eighth-place finish at the French fixture that hosted the second leg of the 2021/2022 Western European League four weeks ago. Until making such a successful return to the series, he had been intending to head for the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, USA in January, but now he may change his plans. “I might join Helen in Amsterdam (NED) or Den Bosch (NED) instead,” he said.

He’s delighted to be back in partnership with Quantico. “When I got back to the barn the first time after my accident, he looked at me as if to say, ‘Is that really you?’ He is such a special horse, not the easiest but such a nice horse and we have a unique bond – we are two hearts together,” the young Spanish star said.

Final

This result leaves him lying tenth on the Western European League leaderboard from which the top nine will make the cut to the series Final in Leipzig, Germany next April. Langehanenberg’s win moves her into the fifth spot when adding the maximum 20 points to the 13 she collected for fourth place at the opening round in Herning, Denmark last month. However, it is Wandres who continues to head the standings going into the next round in London (GBR) in three weeks’ time.

For German athletes getting to the Final is a really tough task, because so many of them are vying for places and only three per country are permitted to compete. As Langehanenberg explained, “Isabel (Werth, defending champion) is going anyway and Jessica (von Bredow-Werndl) will try as well – and if she goes with Dalera, then nobody can beat her! Frederic (Wandres) has good points already and he will try to qualify too, but we will for sure try out best and we will see if we can make it.”

The Western European League action will resume at the London International Horse Show, with the Short Grand Prix taking place on Thursday 16 December followed by the points-deciding Freestyle on Friday 17 December.

Result here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Charlotte Dujardin and Gio Headline Stellar Dressage Lineup for London International Horse Show

Organisers of The London International Horse Show have confirmed that Charlotte Dujardin, Britain’s joint most decorated female Olympian, will have the ride on her Olympic partner Gio to headline a fantastic line-up of Dressage stars at the Show, which runs from 16-20 December 2021. Dujardin, currently ranked as No. 3 in the world, will be taking part in the Show’s opening event, the FEI World Cup Dressage Grand Prix, which will take place on the morning of Thursday 16 December, and the FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle to Music, which is part of the evening performance on Friday 17 December.

Dujardin will take centre stage aboard her Tokyo Olympic partner, Gio, and will be looking to retain her title in both competitions following her double victory in 2019. The combination, who claimed individual and team bronze medals in Tokyo – and in doing so took Dujardin’s tally of medals to six – will be firm favourites to reign victorious when they are reunited in December.

They will be joined by her Olympic teammate Lottie Fry, aboard her own and van Olst Horses’ Dark Legend. The 25-year-old, who is based in the Netherlands, has had a successful 2021 campaign with a string of impressive top-level Grand Prix results, including individual bronze and team silver at the European Championships, and Olympic team bronze.

Another member of that silver medal-winning European Championship team, Gareth Hughes, will be joining Fry and Dujardin at ExCeL London. Hughes, who won the Grand Prix at the British National Championships, will be looking to retain that form as he heads to The London International Horse Show.

Olympian Richard Davison strengthens the British contingent taking part at the Show. Riding Bubblingh, the horse that he rode to victory in the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music in the CDI3* at Hartpury earlier this year, Davison will be sure to put in a competitive challenge. He will be joined by Fiona Bigwood, riding Hawtins Delicato, the horse which was runner-up in both competitions at The London International Horse Show in 2019, when ridden by Carl Hester. Compatriot Lara Butler will also be hoping to bring her recent form to the Show with Kristjan, having won both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at the CDI3* at Keysoe last month.

Challenging the British hopefuls will be Nanna Skodborg Merrald from Denmark, part of the Tokyo Olympic team which were pipped to fourth place by Great Britain, and Singapore’s Caroline Chew. Sweden’s Antonia Ramel and Frederic Wandres from Germany will also feature.

World’s Best Carriage Drivers Head to London

The afternoon of Friday 17 December will mark the return of the FEI Driving World Cup to London, featuring the world’s leading Carriage Drivers. 2019 London International Horse Show winner, and former World No. 1, Boyd Exell (AUS) will return to the Show fresh from victory in the FEI Driving World Cup at Lyon. The five-time World Four-in-Hand champion and nine-time FEI World Cup Driving Champion will take on Ijsbrand Chardon, a multiple World Champion and the current World No. 2, who will be looking to improve on his third-place position at the 2019 Show. The Dutchman will be full of confidence following success at the FEI World Cup qualifier in Aachen.

Koos De Ronde’s second place finish split Exell and Chardon at the 2019 Show, and the Dutch World No. 3 will return to London looking to go one step further. Another who is sure to bring some excitement to the action is home favourite, Dan Naprous, who is famed for his stunt Driving and always has the crowd on the edge of their seats.

Dries Degrieck (BEL), buoyed by a successful World Cup at Lyon, Mareike Harm, part of the German team at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, and Jérôme Voutaz from Switzerland complete the line-up.

Simon Brooks-Ward, Show Director, said: “We’re delighted with this list of entries for The London International Horse Show and are very much looking forward to welcoming some of the best horse and rider combinations in the world to ExCeL London. It is set to be a fantastic competition, providing British fans the only opportunity in the UK to see so many quality athletes under one roof.  We can’t wait to see how the action unfolds.”

The London International Horse Show is the only UK Show to host all three FEI World Cup qualifiers in Show Jumping, Dressage, and Driving. The FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music will take place on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 December, with the FEI Driving World Cup taking place on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 December. Top international Show Jumping competitions will also take place throughout the week, including the sell-out Puissance, The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup, and the unmissable London International Grand Prix, which wraps up the Show on Monday 20 December.

More information about The London International Horse Show, including how to buy tickets, can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Tim Price, the Price of Excellence at 5 Étoiles de Pau

Tim Price and Falco (c) Solène Bailly Photos.

The thousands of spectators who flocked to the Domaine de Sers to encourage the best riders and drivers in the world made the right decision in staying until the end of this 31st edition of the event. There were some very high-level sports performances in both carriage driving and eventing. The morning was dedicated to the driving marathon, where World no. 1 Marion Vignaud and the French team finished in first place, and the afternoon saw New Zealander Tim Price ride to victory after a flawless weekend with his mount Falco. Maxime Livio, bronze medallist in the 2018 team event at the World Equestrian Games, produced the best French performance, ranking 5th at the end of the day. Pascal Sayous, President of the 5 Etoiles de Pau, gave a very positive review of a week of magnificent sportsmanship at the highest level, attended by over 40,000 visitors.

Daniel Koroloff – E-mail: daniel@blizko-communication.comv

World No. 3 Tim Price Takes Things in Hand at 5 Étoiles de Pau

Tim Price on Falco (c) Solène Bailly Photos (2).

The cross-country test, the high point in eventing, held its share of surprises. In the lead after the dressage test, Tim Price, currently World no. 3, gave a true textbook demonstration of how to ride a cross-country course on Falco, coming home in optimal time and maintaining his score from the previous day. His wife Jonelle had ranked 2nd, but in spite of the fact that her little horse McClaren gave it all he got, she came home with an overrun of 11 seconds, relegating her to 6th place on the leaderboard. That gave Irish rider Padraig McCarthy the chance to climb up to second place, followed by Australian rider Kevin McNab. Maxime Livio gave the best French performance riding Vitorio du Montet, finishing in optimal time and grabbing 9th place on the leaderboard.

Daniel Koroloff – E-mail: daniel@blizko-communication.com

Werth Steps Back into the Lyon Limelight

Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

For the fifth time in a row, German supremo Isabell Werth won the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League qualifier in Lyon, France. She did it with the 16-year-old mare Weihegold OLD with whom she claimed the last three series titles.

Twelfth to go in an exciting 15-strong field filled with many rising stars, the pair earned a score of 84.910 and that couldn’t be beaten. But Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Atterupgaards Orthilia came close when putting a personal best 83.695 on the board for a test that oozed consistency and class.

This 16-year-old mare, formerly competed by Danish compatriot Agnete Kirk Thinggaard, and before that by Great Britain’s Fiona Bigwood, and before that again by Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour at Young Rider level, just keeps on giving and, in the hands of this talented 28-year-old Dane, continues to thrive in the ring.

New series

Dufour, who has risen to the very top of the game and who won the first leg of the new series last weekend with her 18-year-old super-hero Atterupgaards Cassidy, competed the nine-year-old gelding Vamos Amigos this time around. The young horse showed remarkable maturity in a test that included lovely passage/piaffe work to take the lead with 81.135 when the action resumed after the halfway break.

That proved good enough for fourth place at the end of the day, behind Werth at the head of affairs, Nanna Skodborg Merrald in second, and Germany’s Frederic Wandres who slotted into third when last to go with Duke of Britain FRH.

Wandres has been enjoying a good year, collecting the maximum 20 points for a win at the Central European League leg in Samorin (SVK) in August which, when added to those collected at the first two legs on the Western European circuit, leaves him heading the league table going into the next qualifier in Madrid, Spain in a month’s time.

Currently, Dufour lies second on the leaderboard ahead of The Netherlands’ Thamar Zweistra in third and Nanna Skodborg Merrald in fourth place. But there’s a long and winding road leading to the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final in Leipzig, Germany next April to which the top nine finishers on the Western European leaderboard will be invited.

Defending

Werth earned no points for her win, as defending champion she is automatically qualified for the Final with a horse of her choice which must have competed in the Freestyle to Music in at least two qualifiers. But it looks like Weihegold won’t be the one fighting that fight in 2022.

The athlete who has collected a mountain of medals during her spectacular career said that she was “super happy” with her horse but “not super happy with my own management! I made a mistake and she was then not as good as she can be!” Her self-criticism is one of the characteristics that has kept her at the very top of the game for so many years, always wanting to do better.

Outlining her plans for the coming months, she said she would take Weihegold to the Top Ten dressage final in Stockholm, Sweden in November, and then to Frankfurt in December “for what will be her last show, because that’s where it all started!”

It was with Weihegold that her back-to-back run of victories at the Lyon qualifier began in 2016. Riding Emilio, she won again in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and Weihegold showed she can still do all the fancy footwork. The mare’s staggering record includes the FEI Dressage World Cup™ titles in 2017, 2018, and 2019 along with team gold and individual silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and five European gold medals.

Delighted

Meanwhile, Nanna Skodborg Merrald was delighted to find herself in runner-up spot. “I really like the pressure and it’s great to ride in front of an audience again after nearly two years without shows and the public,” said the 28-year-old who, partnering Blue Hors Zack, was a member of the fourth-placed Danish team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer.

Winner Werth agreed with that. “The atmosphere here was great; it felt like we are nearly getting back to normal life, so well done to the Organising Committee for what they have done!” she said.

Show Director Sylvie Robert was very happy. “We really suffered with no event for nearly two years, so it is a great achievement to be back and to have the crowd with us again this year!” she said.

Result here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Mr & Mrs Price Have the Reins Well in Hand at 5 Étoiles de Pau

Jonelle Price & McClaren (C) Solène Bailly Photos.

Couples (in real life) are few and far between at this level, and Jonelle and Tim Price belong to the world elite. Not only do they produce quality performances, but a competitive spirit drives them both, and has spurred them on to the top of the provisional leaderboard in one of the most prestigious eventing competitions in the world. Spectators enjoyed watching a wonderful day of sport where the Anglo-Saxon contingent easily dominated the dressage test, with half the British riders in the top 20. In the French camp, Sidney Dufresne didn’t come off too badly, ranking eighth. However, it’s highly likely that the cross-country event will shake up the leaderboard.

Daniel Koroloff – E-mail: daniel@blizko-communication.com

Will Texas-Based Asmussen Return to Glory with Echo Zulu?

Photo source: Unsplash.

Steven Asmussen is one of the most distinguished horse racing trainers in the United States, achieving victories at the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic over the course of his career. However, the 55-year-old has been thwarted in his attempt to win further crowns since 2017 when the last of his great horses, Gun Runner, triumphed in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Gun Runner was named the American Horse of the Year for 2017 before signing off his career with one final run at the Pegasus World Cup, winning the title for the first time for Asmussen. Since then, there have been no notable successes, but the daughter of Gun Runner, Echo Zulu, could be about to change his fortunes.

Echo Zulu is the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Fillies Juvenile event with odds of +150, although Asmussen does not have a proud history in the race, failing to win the previous 13 contests. Echo Zulu has exhibited the quality of her father on the track in the fledgling stages of her career, but delivering on the grand stage will be a challenge amid the talent in the race.

Even Gun Runner had issues competing against elite charges before he found his form at the top. He participated in the Kentucky Derby in 2016 and was one of the leading contenders after winning the Louisiana Derby. Gun Runner was competitive in his first Grade One race, but he could not cope with the pace of Nyquist, finishing four-and-a-half lengths behind the winner.

The American thoroughbred also underwhelmed as a three-year-old in the Haskell Invitational and the Travers Stakes. It took time for him to find his feet among the elite, returning to the track with vigour as a four-year-old. He won the Stephen Foster Handicap, Whitney Stakes, and Woodward Stakes ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Arrogate was the favorite for the race, having bested Gun Runner in the Dubai World Cup earlier in the year. However, Asmussen’s charge turned the tables on his rival to win the crown ahead of Collected, with Arrogate placing down in fifth. It was a flawless performance from Florent Geroux in the saddle, bringing out the best in Gun Runner. They signed off together with a victory at Gulfstream Park in the Pegasus World Cup, enjoying the perfect end to a career at the top.


Gun Runner has appeared to pass his skills down his daughter, who dominated her first race at Saratoga. She then built on her performance in the Spinaway Stakes at the same venue, finishing four lengths ahead of the rest of the field. Echo Zulu has momentum on her side ahead of the contest as a two-year-old.

Asmussen could well have a champion on his hand in the Fillies Juvenile along with other leading events next season such as the Kentucky Derby. He has endured a four-year drought without a major crown, but courtesy of his former champion, the Texas-based trainer could well be on the way back to the top starting at the Breeders’ Cup.

Isabell Werth Takes the Lead

Dressage fans had the opportunity to enjoy the FEI Dressage World Cup Short Grand Prix presented by CREARA in the international arena of the Longines Equita Lyon, International Equestrian Competition. A great line-up of riders took part in this second stage of the Western European League of the World Cup circuit, under the watchful eye of the five international judges, presided over by Francis Verbeek from Holland.

The German rider Isabell Werth was the second to last rider to take to the arena, but it was almost no surprise to see the “queen” of the discipline win the class on her faithful and elegant Weihegold OLD, considering she has won so many medals in her career, was the reigning title holder, and is a regular participant in the Longines Equita Lyon event. The duo’s smooth performance won over the judges with a score of 78.421%. “It was quite exciting because we were competing in a new Grand Prix format for the first time. I am really delighted with my mare; she was a little bit nervous with this new routine, but she did her job really well. I am so happy to be back at Longines Equita Lyon. This is really one of the most wonderful indoor competitions in the world, so it’s just fabulous to be able to compete here again,” said the champion after the awards ceremony. In second place, the German rider Frederic Wandres and Duke of Britain FRH presented a very impressive routine with a score 75.947%, their personal record. Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Atterupgaads Orthilia also achieved their best score in this exercise with 75.342%, taking third place.

One of the most eagerly awaited pairs was the Danish rider Cathrine Dufour (world number 2) and her young nine-year-old Vamos Amigos, who were competing in Lyon for the first time. A great first at this level for the young horse, which was perhaps a little nervous at the beginning of the routine, finally scoring 73.895% and finishing in sixth place on the day. Having already won the Lyon stage in 2015, Spain’s Beatriz Ferrer-Salat presented her Tokyo Olympic horse, Elegance, taking fifth place with a score of 75.026%. During the morning, the spectators also had the pleasure of seeing the young Spanish trainer Juan Matute Guimon, riding his fifteen-year-old Quantico, finishing this regular Short Grand Prix with a score of 71.842%. As the first Moroccan rider to represent his country at the 2012 London Olympic Games and the World Championships in Caen in 2014, Yessin Rahmouni was competing for the first time in Lyon on All At Once (the horse he rode at the Tokyo Olympics), achieving a score of 69.526%.

As regards the French riders, Anne-Sophie Serre and Actuelle de Massa were the first out, scoring 69.605%. The second French couple – and bronze medallists at the last French Championships – Pierre Volla and Silvermoons Mariechen, presented their first routine at this level of competition, scoring 68.184%. Marie-Émilie Bretenoux and her faithful Quartz of Jazz posted a total of 68.553%. Finally, Sir Donnerhall II OLD and Morgan Barbançon put in a fine performance with a score of 72.079%, the best French result of the day, giving them an honourable 8th place finish.

Daniel Koroloff – E-mail: daniel@blizko-communication.com

Cathrine and Cassidy Are the Show-Stealers at Herning

Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

They were billed as the superstars that everyone wanted to see, and the brilliant Danish partnership of Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy didn’t disappoint. In a field sprinkled with both blossoming and established talent they reigned supreme to win the exciting first leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League on home ground at Herning.

They had to work hard, however, because compatriots Carina Cassøe Krüth and Heiline’s Danciera put on a spectacular performance to finish second, while the Dutch duo of Dinja van Liere and Hermes were sensational when slotting into third.

Young horses were really impressive, showing so much promise for things to come. But the crowd went wild when the old boy of the pack, the 18-year-old Cassidy, showed that he still has all the moves when stealing the limelight.

Opened

The action opened with Jennie Larson and Zircoon Spring Flower, the sole Swedish representatives when Patrik Kittel was withdrawn as his ride, Fiontini, was sold.

It was German Eventing idol, Ingrid Klimke, who led the way at the halfway stage when posting 78.750 with Franziskus 15. And when the action resumed after the break, Denmark’s Lone Bang Larsen went out in front with a lovely test from the 11-year-old mare Thranegaardens Rostov that earned 79.525. But then Van Liere and her fabulous nine-year-old stallion Hermes, who took the sport by storm when winning the Grand Prix in Aachen (GER) last month, forged a massive lead when putting 84.360 on the board.

With three left to go. Cassøe Krüth bettered that with a beautiful Freestyle from her 10-year-old mare that, despite a mistake in the one-tempi changes, earned a massive 86.395. So, second-last to go, Dufour and Cassidy had to do something special. But they’ve done it many times during their many years together and this was no exception. Posting 87.115 they bagged victory and brought the Danish crowd to their feet.

Crying

“I was crying my heart out; it was really fantastic!” said Dufour afterwards. With her younger horse, the 11-year-old Bohemian, she earned silver and bronze at the FEI Dressage European Championships last month, not long after returning from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. But achieving what she did with Atterupgaards Cassidy, who carried her to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and who has collected 12 European Championship medals, including Young Rider gold and double-bronze at Senior level, during their hugely successful career together was just so very special. It’s about 18 months since he last appeared at an international event, but he showed he still loves every moment of it.

“He is turning 19 in one month and he’s just one of a kind. He’s been with me for 11 years and I have really had enough, but he hasn’t yet! I brought him here so that he could feel important again and he could show the crowd that he still wants to do it, so I’m over the moon!” Dufour said.

He had already made it clear he’s still very much in the game when winning the Grand Prix. He posted his Freestyle victory with apparently effortless ease.

Fit

Dufour says the horse she calls “Cassie” keeps himself fit. “You don’t have to do too much at home. I ride him once, maybe twice a week in dressage and the other days he’s just stretching and jogging or doing pole-work or hacking, so I think that’s why he’s so super healthy. “He’s just clever; he’s never using himself too much; he gives that much extra in the competitions, but back home I never ask for that. I just keep my fingers crossed when I bring him out and hope that he will do it, and he shows me again and again that he will!”

She insisted that she came out with no huge expectations. “I said at the beginning of this competition that there was no pressure; I wasn’t going to ride to win. I didn’t want to push Cassie to win; everything he offered me I took, but I wouldn’t have pushed him to do any more than he wanted,” she said. Will this be his last public appearance before going into well-earned retirement? Possibly not, it seems.

“We’ll see what this season brings, and I might do one more show with him, but he will be the one who decides, not me!” said the 29-year-old Dane who will take another horse, Vamos Amigos, to the second leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Western European League at Lyon, France next week.

Cheer

The Danish crowd had plenty to cheer about, and for runner-up Cassøe Krüth, it was an extra test for her 10-year-old mare when they clapped loudly as the pair progressed up the final centreline. But Danciera seemed to enjoy it, “and she has never felt so good!” said the 37-year-old Dane.

“When they started clapping, I thought Ohh, we still have a long way to go! But she stayed focused, and it was okay and actually I think she liked it, so now they can do it any time!” she added.

Dutch 31-year-old Van Liere was delighted with her result with Hermes. “Yesterday we had a couple of mistakes, but it was our first Short Grand Prix and of course he still lacks experience. I’m riding him since he was three years old, and I hope I will be able to ride him for many more years. I plan to do more World Cups, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on him because he is still young,” said the athlete who hopes to bring him to the qualifiers on her home turf in Amsterdam in January and ’s-Hertogenbosch next March.

Show Director at Herning, Jens Trabjerg, was also very pleased. “It’s always nice as an organiser to have such fantastic sport as we had today. We have tried for the past five years to get the audience to stay for the prize-giving and I have to say we have been quite successful,” he pointed out. Not too surprising perhaps when the home-side contenders steal all the glory in front of their home crowd.

Results here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46