CHIO Aachen 2021 Rolex Grand Slam ‘Rider Watch’

Steve Guerdat at the CHIO Aachen 2019 (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

After immense anticipation, CHIO Aachen returns on 14-19 September following a one-year hiatus, as a result of COVID-19. An exceptional list of 66 riders from 17 nations, which includes 19 of the world’s current top 30-ranked athletes, are confirmed to travel to the North Rhine-Westphalia city in the west of Germany, bringing a total of 210 extraordinarily talented horses. Unsurprisingly, home nation Germany will be represented by no fewer than 18 athletes, with current world number one, Daniel Deusser, the stand-out and in-form rider.

As well as hosting feature classes on each of the five days of world-class equestrian action, including the Mercedes-Benz Nations´ Cup team jumping competition, the globally renowned show, which dates back to 1924, is set to conclude with the inimitable 1m60 Rolex Grand Prix, the third Major of the year, as part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Newly-crowned Live Contender, Steve Guerdat – following his stunning victory in Sunday CP ‘International’ at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ – will now continue his epic Rolex Grand Slam journey at CHIO Aachen where he will defend his Live Contender status.

Current world number one-ranked rider, Germany’s Daniel “Double D” Deusser travels to CHIO Aachen with a stable of four horses, including his 11-year-old mare, Killer Queen Vdm, with whom he finished second in the Rolex Grand Prix at last month’s Brussels Stephex Masters.

After flying the flag for Switzerland at last week’s CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, current world number three, Martin Fuchs, is accompanied by five of his star horses, including his two geldings, nine-year-old Leone Jei and 13-year-old The Sinner, and his seven-year-old mare, Diva Van Het Cauterhof Z, who will feature in the classes for Young Horses.

Also present in Calgary is Great Britain’s Scott Brash, who in 2015 became the first and only rider to be crowned the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Champion. Current world number four, Brash will be hoping to start his Rolex Grand Slam journey at the CHIO Aachen, and brings three of his horses, Hello Jefferson, Hello Shelby, and Hello Vittoria, the former who the Scot partnered to an impressive Grand Prix victory with at Valkenswaard in July.

Much to the delight of show jumping fans worldwide, Brash’s British teammate – the recently crowned Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Individual Jumping champion and current world number six – Ben Maher teams up with his formidable 12-year-old gelding, Explosion W. The duo looks to be the ones to beat, and are sure to have their sights set on victory in the Rolex Grand Prix on the final day of the competition. Maher also travels with his highly regarded seven-year-old, Point Break.

Currently sitting 10th in the world rankings, recent European Team Jumping champion and the only rider to compete at each of the Majors since the inception of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping in 2013, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat puts his faith once again in Albfuehren’s Maddox. His 10-year-old stallion travels to CHIO Aachen alongside his gifted 12-year-old gelding, Victorio des Frotards.

Joint world number 27-ranked riders, America’s Laura Kraut and compatriot Jessica Springsteen both travel to westernmost Germany full of confidence after the pair played an integral role in securing the United States’ Team Jumping silver medal at last month’s Olympic Games. Kraut travels to CHIO Aachen with her Olympic partner, 11-year-old gelding Baloutinue, and her experienced 14-year-old gelding, Confu. Meanwhile, Springsteen travels with 12-year-old stallion, Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve, with whom she partnered at Tokyo 2020, and her stand-out 14-year-old mare, Rmf Zecilie, with whom she won the Rolex Grand Prix at the Brussels Stephex Masters just over a fortnight ago.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

BLM Plans Feedlot to Hold 4,000 Wild Horses

Increased funding from Congress has enabled the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to dramatically increase removals of wild horses and burros from our public lands this year.

It’s expected that more than 17,000 wild horses and burros will be removed in FY2021, a more than 50% increase over last year.

Now BLM is scrambling to find places to hold our removed wild horses and burros. Their answer? Factory farm-style feedlots.

One current proposal would allow 4,000 wild horses and burros to be confined in dirt pens on just 100 acres of land near Winnemucca, Nevada. These iconic, once wild and free animals will be forced to live, eat, and sleep in their own waste – which is a recipe for disease and death in such confined quarters.

Not surprisingly, this is a BLM partnership to benefit a livestock transport company. Once again, our magnificent wild horses and burros lose everything while Big Animal Agriculture gains.

Please take a moment to express your strong opposition to this ill-conceived plan.

Each of us must be on the record objecting to this proposal for the many legitimate humane, environmental, and tax-dollar accountability problems it creates. Please take quick action here!

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Steve Guerdat and Venard de Cerisy Win the CP ‘International’

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

2021’s edition of the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ culminated with the week’s pinnacle class, the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex. The second Major of the year, as part of the revered Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, welcomed 28 horse and rider combinations, who would go head-to-head in their individual quests to become the Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender. Austrian Max Kühner had his sights set on retaining his Live Contender status after winning the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters in April.

The ultimate show jumping test for horse and rider, the Leopoldo Palacios-designed course would be contested over 14 demanding obstacles within the confines of Spruce Meadows’ imposing International Ring. With the competition watched on by 2,000 excited and knowledgeable spectators – the maximum allowed under COVID-19 restrictions – and with just 12 pairings progressing to Round 2, the stakes were high, with the riders all too aware that there was very little margin for error.

Australian Rowan Willis, a familiar face at Spruce Meadows, set the early Round 1 pace with his 15-year-old mare, Blue Movie, jumping fault-free in 80.99s. Home favourite Mario Deslauriers confidently progressed to Round 2 with his 12-year-old mare, Bardolina 2, crossing the line in 83.00s without a penalty. Swiss Steve Guerdat and Australian Hilary Scott were the only other riders to navigate the Round 1 course without picking up any penalties. The eight riders also advancing to Round 2 included Egypt’s Nayel Nassar, Canadian Erynn Ballard, Kent Farrington, McLain Ward, Will Simpson, and Natalie Dean from America, Mexico’s Carlos Hank Guerreiro, and Briton Scott Brash.

In a change of fortunes, American duo, Kent Farrington and McLain Ward, faultlessly steered their equestrian partners around the second round course, after each put a fence down in the first. Hot on the American pair’s heels was reigning Rolex Grand Slam champion, Scott Brash, who added just four penalty points to his first round score. However, it was former world number one Steve Guerdat who was to assume top spot after he effortlessly guided his prodigious 12-year-old gelding, Venard de Cerisy, around the 14-fence course. Following Guerdat’s performance, the final two riders to go were Deslauriers and Willis; however, neither were able to match their first round scores, meaning the three-time World Cup winner (2015, 2016, 2019) and 2012 Olympic Individual jumping champion won the CP ‘International’, and in doing so was crowned the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Live Contender.

The only rider to compete at each of the Majors since the inception of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Guerdat commented: “I’ve been dreaming of winning these classes since I’ve been a little kid. Since I can remember, Calgary and Aachen have always been the shows that I want to win. I’ve been lucky enough to win Geneva a couple of times, but Aachen and Calgary have been missing. I’m not going to quit until I win them – I have one of them now, and I’m going to aim for the other one very soon. This is what drives us riders, I guess.

“Venard is a very strong, brave, and powerful horse. He has a lot of blood and energy in his jump. He doesn’t have the best of techniques, but because of his power and will to do good all the time, we’ve had the chance to understand each other over the years. He’s a very sensitive horse – he’s very difficult to get on and off, you can’t move him, and he’s a little bit shy with everything. But once he sees a jump, he just wants to jump it.”

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Germany Takes All Gold in U25, and a New Dutch Star Shines

Semmieke Rothenberger and Flanell. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

German U25 riders matched their Senior counterparts when claiming all the gold medals in the FEI Dressage European Championship U25 at Hagen (GER) where a new Dutch star was born.

Semmieke Rothenberger (Flanell), Raphael Netz (Elastico), Ellen Richter (Vinay NRW), and Ann-Kathrin Lindner (FBW Sunfire) grabbed Team gold, pinning The Netherlands’ Devendra Dijkstra (Hero), Febe van Zwambagt (Edson), Jessica Poelman (Chocolate Cookie RDP), and Jasmien de Koeyer (Esperanza) into silver medal spot.

Sweden took the bronze when Nathalie Wahlund (Cerano Gold), Jennifer Lindvall (Midt West Casino), Elin Mattson (Beckham), and Lina Dolk (Languedoc) pipped Denmark by a narrow margin.

Germany’s Rothenberger and Netz and The Netherlands’ Poelman posted the three highest scores in the team competition and continued to be locked in battle for the individual and Freestyle titles over the last two days.

Grand Prix

In Saturday’s Grand Prix which decided the Individual medals, Netz squeezed Rothenberger off the top step of the podium by just 0.052%. This a young man with a remarkable story. His family had no connection with horses, but he was born with a passion to ride.

“When I was four, I was allowed to get on a horse for lunging lessons; they lunged me for over one year and then my father said if he’s tough enough to do it for a year without reins, then he really wants to do it! So we rented horses a lot and when I was nine they bought me my first pony. They had no idea what they were doing and neither did I, so they bought a three-year-old Haflinger! We grew together, we learned together, and then when he was seven and I was 13, we did our first Small Tour together and got our first Prix St George placement,” Netz explained.

He was talent-spotted by Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl when he was just 17. “She sent me an email asking if I wanted to ride for her – I thought it was a fake! But we ended up having a call and I took the train to Bavaria and stayed there for four days. And I just fitted in perfectly. So I finished school, packed my things, and moved,” said the young rider who has been working for the German star for the last five years.

Partnered with Elastico, who is owned by Japanese rider Akane Kuroki, Netz’ career is blossoming. He describes the stallion as “a cool dude! It’s a great feeling just to enter the arena on a beautiful horse like this. Growing together with him wasn’t that easy because he was used to different training, but we did our first competition one year ago and we finished third,” he explained. Kuroki saw the special relationship the young German was building with her horse and generously offered to let him ride it.  “I’m very thankful to her. She said go for it and we went for it and here we are!” Netz said.

Freestyle

Rothenberger had her day to shine when taking Freestyle gold. Netz’s end result was a score of 81.210 while Rothenberger’s mare Flannel posted 81.955 for a brilliant performance.

This 22-year-old rider, who hails from a family steeped in the Dressage world, already has a lifetime of Championship experience, winning multiple titles over the last decade at Pony, Junior, and Young Rider level and she is continuing in the same vein in U25.

“This has been such a perfect Championship; it’s super organised here and the Kasselmann family did an amazing job!” Rothenberger said.

She was thrilled with her mare. “I’ve always believed that Flanell has no limits and I still do. This horse is absolutely incredible. I’ve never had anything like her and it’s such a blessing to go in there with such a horse knowing that as long as I, the rider, don’t make a mistake, this horse can go for it. She’s shown it in this Championship; yesterday we had a rider mistake, but I’m incredibly happy with how she’s done at her first European Championship.

“I got her in May last year and due to Corona, we had a lot of time to get to know each other. But the show season didn’t quite get going, so this is only her fourth competition with me, and she just keeps getting better!” she added.

Bronze went to Poelman whose Freestyle ride was a pleasure to watch, filled with lightness and harmony.

A big surprise

“I never expected a medal – it’s a big surprise even to ride here!” said the 20-year-old who hails from close to Amsterdam. “I have this horse only since November last year and we only went to one international show together before. I rode international in Ponies and Juniors but never at a really high level; this is my very first Championship,” Poelman explained.

She says her sudden rise to stardom is all due to the lovely gelding Chocolate Cookie RDP, which was previously competed by Dutch counterpart Dana van Lierop. Poelman’s trainer Lotje Schoots put the pair together and it’s clearly the perfect partnership.

“He is really nice and very easy to ride, and I have a great connection with him. He is always very willing,” said the young rider who produced wonderful piaffe and passage from the 14-year-old gelding.

She only competed for fun until last year when she was invited to ride in an observation trial by Chef d’Equipe Monique Peutz. “We had winter training for riders and Jessica told me she had Chocolate Cookie and I said bring him along, and it looked so nice. First she was thinking she’d start slowly, but I said no, there’s an international competition in Exloo, so just give it a try, and she did and she did very well – now she has one silver and two bronze European U25 medals!” said the Dutch team manager.

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Tiffany Foster and Brighton Win the Suncor Winning Round

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

Twenty-five combinations contested Saturday’s 1m50 Suncor Winning Round in a wet International Ring following overnight and early morning rain. However, spectators’ spirits were not in the slightest bit dampened, as they were treated to some world-class performances from not only Canada’s finest equestrian athletes, but also a number of leading riders from eight other nations, who descended on Calgary for the 2021 edition of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’.

Round 1’s proceedings were dominated by the home nation, with four Canadian riders amongst the 10 who eventually progressed to Round 2, including Tiffany Foster and her 15-year-old gelding, Brighton, Amy Millar and her 11-year-old gelding, Christiano, and the experienced duo of Eric Lamaze and Jim Ifko, who were partnered by 11-year-old gelding, Kino, and the 12-year-old La Silla-bred mare, Celine Ls La Silla, respectively. The Irish trio of Jordan Coyle (Centriko Volo), Daniel Coyle (Ivory TCS), and Conor Swail also made the top-10 cut, and were joined in the Winning Round by the talented 23-year-old Belgian, Zoe Conter (Dawa De Greenbay Z), the in-form Egyptian, Nayel Nassar (Igor Van De Wittemoere), and British rider, Matthew Sampson (Geneve R).

But in the end, it was Tiffany Foster’s day to shine in front of an enthralled crowd, after she and the brilliant Brighton did enough to see off a late challenge from Conor Swail, beating him to top spot by three tenths of a second, with the current world number 59-ranked rider, Nayel Nassar, slotting into third place.

Delighted with her long-time partner, Brighton, Foster commented: “The Suncor Winning Round here at Spruce Meadows is a kind of unique event, as you know you don’t carry your faults, which means you’ve got to get into that top 10, so it’s always better to carry a little bit of rhythm. Brighton seems to love this class, so I just ride my round. The good thing about him is he’s super-fast, so even if I happen to have one down, I’m usually in with a shout, but he’s clear more than not!”

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses Get Reprieve

BLM has called an end to the abuse-ridden wild horse roundup inside Sand Wash Basin HMA. It’s believed that massive public outcry and political pressure from Colorado Governor Polis influenced the agency’s decision to stop the roundup before they reached their goal of capturing 783 horses.

Sadly, roundup operations continue outside the HMA to the north, almost to the Wyoming border. There are advocates on the ground documenting, and we will keep you informed as we learn more.

In a press release, The Cloud Foundation founder and former Wild Horse Advisory Board Member Ginger Kathrens called upon the BLM to change course:

“The brutal Sand Wash roundup is over, thanks to the thousands of calls, messages, and emails from people not only in the United States but around the world who value our wild horses. It’s shameful that the BLM does not value them at all. The inhumane practices in this roundup are blatant violations of the BLM’s own animal welfare guidelines. It is high time that this program be totally reviewed, and the travesties of the past be corrected.”

TCF worked in conjunction with the Sand Wash Advocacy Team (SWAT) prior to the roundup in an effort stop what – predictably – became a deadly event. Your efforts resulted in nearly 9,000 messages, calls, and emails sent to BLM and our political leaders. YOU made a difference in the lives of the Sand Wash horses who have been spared.

Thank you for your support of our cherished wild horses and burros. You can read the full press release here.

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org

McLain Ward Wins the Tourmaline Oil Cup

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

On a breezy and autumnal Calgarian afternoon, 28 horse and rider combinations representing 12 nations contested Friday’s feature class at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, the 1.55m Tourmaline Oil Cup. Legendary course designer Leopoldo Palacios set the pairings – which included three out of the world’s current top 10-ranked riders – 12 testing obstacles, with the Venezuelan and his team of assistants making full use of the vast and iconic International Ring.

American McLain Ward set the early pace with his 15-year-old bay mare, HH Azur, going clear in a time of 72.51s, within the 75-second time limit. Compatriot Kent Farrington and his 14-year-old gelding, Creedance, looked to be on imperious form, breezing around the course fault-free. In a show of American domination, winner of 2019’s CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex, Beezie Madden and her 15-year-old La Silla-bred Stallion, Breitling LS, also made light work of the 15-fence course. Much to the delight of the crowd, home favourites Tiffany Foster and Erynn Ballard progressed to the shoot-out, both aboard their talented 10-year-olds, Hamilton and Gakhir, respectively. In-form Nayel Nassar from Egypt and his veteran 19-year-old gelding, Coronado, was joined in the jump-off by Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes and his stallion H5 Chagauns and Australia’s Rowan Willis partnered by his grey stallion Ashton Dakota.

First to go in the jump-off was recent Olympic Team silver medallist, McLain Ward, who set a blistering time of 37.38s, which looked hard to beat, after the next seven riders – Rowan Willis, Kent Farrington, Eduardo Menezes, Erynn Ballard, Beezie Madden, and Tiffany Foster – all failed to navigate the eight-fence jump-off without penalties. Last to go, it was apparent that Nayel Nassar was playing it safe, with his sights set on second spot, eventually crossing the line without a fault and finishing runner-up behind deserved winner, Ward.

On his victory and his mare HH Azur’s stunning performance, the two-time Olympic Team gold medallist commented: “I don’t know if I particularly did it better than any of the other riders; she just jumped it better! I actually wasn’t upset by my position in the jump-off. I was just going to ride my plan. I know what her strengths and weaknesses are at this point, and I thought if I put a little bit of pressure on, there might be some mistakes and that played out.

“HH Azur is going to jump the Nations Cup tomorrow for our team, and then Casper, a stallion I’ve been kind of bringing along, who’s a phenomenal jumper and has had a strong summer in Europe, is the horse I’m aiming towards the big Grand Prix on Sunday.”

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Fairytale Finish in Freestyle for von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera

(L to R): Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour (silver), Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (gold), and Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin (bronze). (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was filled with emotion after clinching her third gold medal of the week when topping the Freestyle at the FEI Dressage European Championship 2021 in Hagen (GER).

“It’s like a fairytale; the ride today was the best I ever felt!” said the 35-year-old athlete who also swept all before her at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer. “It may not have been the highest points ever, but for me it was the best feeling I ever had with Dalera. I was very emotional after finishing. No matter what points or what place I got, I was so happy!” she added.

Scoring 91.021 when third-last to go, she finished almost three percentage points ahead of Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour who took silver with Bohemian, and it was Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Gio who grabbed the bronze.

Going fifth from last, Dujardin put 87.246 on the board, and she might have expected that would not be enough for a podium placing with the final German partnership of Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD still to come. But second-last into the arena, Werth’s multiple medal-winning mare was clearly lacking energy and power, and their score of 84.896 left them in fourth place.

Pleased

Dujardin was hugely pleased with her result. At only 10 years of age, Gio is still very much on a learning curve, with little exposure to top sport other than his sensational results at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where he won double-bronze. This performance was even more impressive.

“I’m so proud of him; it’s only his second time through that music and as you could see the degree of difficulty is immense. The Olympics was the first time I rode it and it was mistake-free there; unfortunately I made a mistake in the ones on the centre line today – rider error, not horse error – and I thought that would have cost me a medal. It’s still frustrating that I made that mistake and I’m so cross with myself because he tried so hard – but obviously we have medalled!” said the 35-year-old athlete.

She really pulled out all the stops, including taking all the risk in extended canter. “All week I hadn’t pushed him full out because he is a young horse and I want him for the future and he did the Olympics. He tried for me every day here; he did a great Special (on Thursday where the pair finished fourth). I was so proud of him, and we just missed out on a medal. So I thought today, I’ll just put that extra bit in,” she said.

Competitiveness is in Dujardin’s DNA. “I went in there wanting a medal for sure. I wasn’t going down without a fight! And being the first of the last five combinations, you know you have to give it a good go, set the standard. I felt we did that, even with a mistake. We got 87 percent with those mistakes; without those mistakes, who knows what it might have been? I asked him to step up and he sure did! she added.

And having finished his test, the little horse, whose rider calls him Pumpkin, was completely relaxed as he left the ring.

“That’s the thing with him: he just gets more and more confident and that’s his first time in an arena with that atmosphere; he’s not used to crowds. He’s just brilliant; he switches on and does his job, and then he switches off and off he goes home!” she said.

A joy

Dufour was equally pleased with Bohemian, whose test was a joy to watch, filled with energy and power.

‘I’m really happy, first because I had a super ride – almost flawless – we had a tiny mistake in the ones at the end and that was totally my mistake. We have grown a lot since Wednesday this week and today he felt so happy, so ready to deliver. It was just so super-easy going. I was back to no pushing, no forcing, just enjoying and dancing with him!” said the dynamic 29-year-old Dane.

Her emotional music from Les Miserables added a poignancy to her performance. “It expresses something about where I am in my life. It delivers a kind of message – that I’m really enjoying life and I’m in a good place now and that my horse and I have found our path together. I feel really comfortable with what I’m doing with my team, with the people I have around me. I have a super family, an extra family, and it feels fantastic!” she pointed out.

But the new European Freestyle gold medallist was happiest of all.

Talking about Dalera’s magical Freestyle performance, von Bredow-Werndl said, “She was 100 percent focused, she was light, she was on fire, but not too much. Two days ago (in the Grand Prix Special) she was a bit too hot so I couldn’t ride for example the extensions fully, and then it looked a little bit tense sometimes, but today it was a perfect, perfect kind of energy.

“She loves what she does, and I feel it in every second and every movement. Even my collected walk felt super today. The feeling was the best I’ve ever had so far, in my whole life, on any horse!

“That’s why I was pretty emotional when I finished because this is not normal – that a horse improves during a competition. Today she had no wet hair (sweat), either in the warm-up or after the competition, and that’s crazy!” she said.

Atmosphere

The spectators at Hagen certainly added to the great atmosphere and the new European triple champion, who also has two Olympic gold medals in her trophy cabinet after this extraordinary summer, commented on the difference it makes to have them there.

“It’s so great to ride in front of an audience again; it feels completely different; we were carried by them I think, and they were so supportive of all the riders during the week. I hope it will stay like this; it’s so good to have this back!”

Von Bredow-Werndl has led Germany to a glorious summer of gold, and now has next year’s FEI World Equestrian Games in her sights. However, Dufour gave her fair warning that she and her Danish compatriots will be ready and waiting when the action begins on their home ground in front of their home crowd in Herning next August.

She intends narrowing the gap between herself and the German star over the next 11 months.

“Right now, we can only aim at Jessica’s marks, and congratulations to her on a great season this year. It’s exciting with the WEG next year in Denmark. I’m sure the Danish audience will put pressure on the Germans!”

For now, however, the Hagen hosts can continue to bask in a golden glow.

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media Scontact:

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

Von Bredow-Werndl Untouchable for Special Gold

(L to R): Germany’s Isabell Werth (silver), Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (gold), and Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour (bronze). (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl scooped her second gold medal of the week when coming out on top with TSF Dalera BB in the Grand Prix Special at the FEI Dressage European Championships 2021 in Hagen (GER).

Firm favourites after their spectacular performances at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer, the 35-year-old rider and her 14-year-old mare produced the highest score to help their country claim the team title for the 25th time. And they won again, this time pinning team-mates Isabell Werth and Weihegold into silver while Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour and Bohemian took the bronze.

Team silver medallist, Britain’s Carl Hester, set the early target score when posting 77.310 with En Vogue. “That was as good as Tokyo, if not maybe a little bit better – I got the ride I really wanted to get,” said the man who also took team bronze in Japan a few weeks ago.

“He was steady, relaxed, and calm. I always know that if he’s going to be funny, it will be in the piaffes. That’s what he did yesterday (in the team competition) and he gets wilder and wilder. But tonight he was fine. All you want in a championship really is for the horse to grow. I don’t expect to win when he’s this young, but I do it in the hope that he gets better every day.

“The changes tonight were spot on; the piaffes were showing the future of what he can do, because I think there’s a 10 in there for those – not tonight, but they were going the right way, so I was just pleased they are progressing. And the pirouettes,” he pointed out.

In front

Hester was still in front when Werth set off with her mare, fifth-last to go. It was clear from the outset that the German pair who took European Special and Freestyle gold in Gothenburg (SWE) four years ago meant business again. Before starting, Werth made sure Weihegold was listening, practically galloping down the long side of the arena before beginning her test.

“It gives her the fire, and me too!” she said. “I knew I had to fight and take all the risk I could; she’s so experienced in this business, more in the Freestyle than the Special, but this was one of her best Specials, no big mistakes, and I’m very happy with her,” said the lady who won her first European Grand Prix Special title with the great Gigolo back in 1991 in Donaueschingen (GER).

Big marks for piaffe, passage, and pirouettes put her on a score of 81.702 for a strong lead going into the closing stages.

Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin followed with 79.787 from her sweet little 10-year-old chestnut Gio, slotting temporarily into bronze medal spot. “It’s only his third Special and I couldn’t ask for much more. He needs more time to strengthen up; he’s getting better and better at every show, and he went in there and tried and did his best, and that’s enough for me,” said the rider who took all the European Individual titles in both 2013 and 2015 with the record-breaking Valegro. However, Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour immediately overtook her with a cracking test from Bohemian that was filled with power, energy, and excitement.

Dufour looked well set to oust Werth from pole position but, although quickly rectified, a mistake on the final centreline proved costly. The quality of the performance was so strong, it still earned a healthy mark of 81.079.

Reflecting

The 29-year-old Dane has been reflecting over the last few weeks. “What I felt in the last few tests was that I had to push him a bit too much in Tokyo, and that’s not at all the way I want to ride him. Today I wanted to build more trust so he doesn’t feel that I push him one thousand percent every time he goes in the ring, because I had the feeling he might not continue to perform with me if I continue to ask for more. But today he was so confident. I could have asked for more, but I want to rebuild that trust and show him that it’s super-nice to be in the ring.

“What Tokyo has taught me is that less is more,” Dufour said. “He will give me the moon as long as I offer trust and space for him to grow, which I feel I forgot the last few times. Yesterday I had a nice feeling but today was even better,” she added.

Britain’s Charlotte Fry was second-last to go with Everdale whose 78.146 slotted them in behind Dujardin, and then only von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera stood between Werth and the tenth Individual European title of her long and illustrious career. But the new world number one was placed first by all seven judges. With marks ranging from 81.277 to 86.596, their final tally was 84.271 for victory.

“Winning in front of the home crowd was great; we’re not used to it anymore.

“When we entered the arena, Dalera became even bigger, put her ears up; she was really excited and when I did the trot extensions, I tried not to move because it could have brought her out of balance, because she was so on fire! It’s a great feeling, especially after the Olympics, that she’s so fit and so happy again,” said von Bredow-Werndl, who seems to have the world at her feet right now.

Leading combinations

While the leading 15 horse/athlete combinations go through to Saturday’s Freestyle, only three can represent each country. However, the new Grand Prix Special champion certainly won’t miss the cut. Von Bredow-Werndl looks set to make it a golden hat-trick, with Werth chasing her all the way.

Werth admitted that the last couple of days have been a huge strain for a different reason entirely. Her beloved mare Bella Rose, who took triple-gold at the European Championships in Rotterdam two years ago, has taken ill. But fortunately, there’s good news.

“I’m glad to say she’s fine,” Werth said, when asked about the mare who was due to be officially retired at the CHIO Aachen next week. “Yesterday I got a call from my vet to say she had a colic, so I was really worried. Yesterday evening we had to take her to the clinic because this kind of colic meant you have to operate, because something is in the wrong position. It’s just bad luck; it’s not a typical colic situation. So I’m really happy and very thankful to the vets. She woke up yesterday evening and this morning she ate some grass and looked really good and like normal. She will stay at the clinic a few days and if everything is normal, we will then bring her home. I didn’t get much sleep last night!” Werth admitted.

She should rest well in the knowledge that Bella is fine. And she and Weihegold are likely to come out with all guns blazing when the Freestyle begins.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media Scontact:

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

Germany Grabs Team Gold Yet Again

(l to r) Isabell Werth, Helen Langehanenberg, Dorothee Schneider, and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

In the history of the FEI Dressage European Championships, Team Germany has a formidable record. There have been 29 editions, and they clinched the team title for the 25th time.

Dorothee Schneider (Faustus), Helen Langehanenberg (Annabelle), Isabell Werth (Weihegold OLD), and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (TSF Dalera BB) joined forces to pin Great Britain into silver and Denmark into bronze. It was the same side that took team gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games less than two months ago, but Langehanenberg was an alternate there and didn’t get to compete. Only von Bredow-Werndl was riding the same horse, and she posted the biggest mark in this Grand Prix to put the result beyond doubt.

The British were in the lead as the action resumed, and Carl Hester was first into the ring for them, partnering En Vogue who earned a score of 74.845.

Brilliant in parts

“The test was brilliant in parts and disappointing in others,” he said. “Last night (leading the scoreboard) it actually looked quite exciting! That horse gets very big scores, so we did think it would be good to have a really good shot at it; it doesn’t always work like that and it didn’t work like that today, but he’s come right back from the Games where he did three amazing tests with no experience. Some of the things he does are so brilliant that he makes himself a bit nervous,” the British rider explained.

“I didn’t deserve more points; there were too many mistakes, and I’m just disappointed I made mistakes because they weren’t huge mistakes,” he added, but he sees great development in the 12-year-old bay gelding now that he is getting more competition exposure. “What he’s done in one year – he’d never have gone into that arena a year ago!”

It might have been a nervous night for some teams in Germany’s situation, lying third after Schneider and Langehanenberg took their turn when Denmark slotted into silver medal spot. Daniel Bachmann Andersen was the first Dane to go, producing a lovely test for a score of 76.366 with the gelding Marshall-Bell who is only nine years old.

But then Werth and her mare Weihegold came into the ring, and you could feel the changing tide even though the German legend clearly wasn’t happy with her score. She had ridden a technically brilliant test for a mark of 79.860.

Superb

“We had just a little mistake at the end of the two-tempis where she was bit quick at the end, but the last centreline was superb, so I was really happy. But a score under 80 percent. In the last three years I had just one competition with her under 80 percent and that was in Paris at the World Cup Final. But of course, you have to take it sportingly,” she pointed out.

Denmark’s Cathrin Dufour and Bohemian came really close to Werth’s leading score, always forward and brave and chasing every mark. A blip in the first canter pirouette held them back from an even bigger result, however.

Dufour was a bit like Britain’s Hester, happy and frustrated all at the same time. “It might be the best warm-up I’ve ever had; he felt fantastic, and it was almost hotter than Tokyo, but he felt really super!” she said. Several riders commented on the incredible heat that descended on the showgrounds at Hof Kasselmann.

“We had a little misunderstanding earlier and I just managed to save it, and then in the canter pirouette left, he wanted to turn a tiny bit too much and I tried to correct him, maybe a little bit too roughly – he’s a hot horse so he reacts really quickly, but I think I managed to sort it quickly and we had a really nice second pirouette,” she explained. The mark for the first was 3.6, but she was awarded a whopping 8.9 when the second pirouette came off really nicely.

“Overall, I’m really happy, of course a bit annoyed with that big mistake, but we always have to try something new every time we go into the ring because we always want to develop. If you do the same you get the same so we have to try to push ourselves,” she pointed out wisely, adding, “My team-mates have been great here; it’s been a pleasure to watch them and it’s a pleasure to have three of our riders above 75 percent – I can’t remember when that happened last time for Denmark!”

Brilliant mark

Germany’s von Bredow-Werndl was fourth-last to go in the final group and sealed the German deal with a brilliant mark of 84.099 for a test that oozed the kind of class that spectators have come to expect from her 14-year-old Olympic double-gold mare.

“She is amazing! She was on fire but still so focused and concentrated that I couldn’t have asked for more. From the very first second to the very last second she didn’t give me any doubt!” said the lady who has recently been named world number one.

When asked if she felt under pressure because her team really needed a good score, especially with Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin yet to start, she admitted she did, because the margins were still a little too close for comfort.

“It was not as easy as it was in Tokyo because in Tokyo, I only had to achieve 72 percent to win gold for the team. Today was a little bit more, but anyway I’m always giving my best and so is Dalera!” she said.

Like so many of the other horses competing at the Championships this week, Dalera returned from Tokyo full of beans and still rearing to go, so much so that von Bredow-Werndl had to sit tight when starting her back in work after a short break.

“I had to make her keep walking for a few days because she was really bucking when we were hacking out!” she said. As Hester explained earlier in the day, the trip to Japan certainly didn’t seem to take much out of the Tokyo equine athletes. Peden International got permission for the horses to fly over Russia, so their travel time was reduced by almost seven hours. “It made it so much easier for them,” he said.

A huge pleasure

Last of the British to go, Charlotte Dujardin and her super sweet little 10-year-old, Gio, produced a lovely test that put 79.829 on the board. It slotted her into third individually, behind Werth in second and von Bredow-Werndl at the top of the order. Germany finished on a final tally of 238.944 and Britain’s closing score was 232.345, while Denmark finished a very close third in bronze on 231.165.

Britain’s Hester insisted his silver medal finish was “a huge pleasure for all of us. Last night Charlotte did talk about the gold and hopefully it will happen again one day, but looking at the top you can see how experience carries the horses. Our team (of horses) at this age – we are thinking of the World Games in 2022 and Paris (Olympics in 2024) and we are just feeling so lucky to be winning medals!” he said.

With the team medals now out of the way, attention turns to the Grand Prix Special. The rivalry is going to be really intense again, especially since the horses are now much more familiar with the lovely Hagen arena. There’s lots more history to be made, and while von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera look set to sweep all before them, you could sense her senior compatriot’s trademark determination to continue in her role as the Queen of international Dressage.

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media Scontact:

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

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