The Germans were convincing victors of the Nations Cup eventing at Aachen, with Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob OLD taking the individual prize. The ‘dream team’, consisting of Ingrid, Michael Jung with La Biosthetique-Sam FBW, Sandra Auffarth with Opgun Louvo, and new member Josefa Sommer with her home-bred and home-trained Hamilton, fulfilled all expectations. For Josefa, it was a great start in her first appearance at the Soers, clear across country with just a few time faults. “It is incredible to be here with these three heroes!” she commented at the press conference afterwards.
“Josefa was our pathfinder today and she did a super job!” said the national coach, Hans Melzer, acknowledging her contribution.
With an overall score of 107, the Germans had a significant lead over last year’s winners from Australia, who finished on a total of 152.60. Shane Rose, who was third in the individual classification with the Holstein-bred CP Qualified, said on behalf of his team: “It is no defeat, coming second behind the German team. This team has been almost unbeatable for years. I am delighted and grateful that we are able to ride here in Aachen. The conditions, how we are looked after – I wish there were more shows like this in the world.” Fellow team members were Christopher Burton on Nobilis (6th/40.60), Katja Weimann on BP Cosmopolitan (22nd /74.50) and Emma McNab on Fernhill Tabasco (28th/85.40).
Third place on a total score of 160.60 went to Sweden, who were only represented by three riders, so there wasn’t a scratch result. However, they didn’t need one: the London 2012 Olympic silver medallist, Sara Algotsson Ostholt, came eleventh with Reality (47.80), directly ahead of her team-mate Louise Svensson Jähde with Wieloch‘s Utah Sun (48.20). Niklas Lindbäck and Focus Filiocus were 20th (64.60).
The New Zealanders sneaked in just ahead of the British for fourth place. Our team score was 181 and the Brits’ was 181.3!
Ingrid Klimke’s second victory
Ingrid Klimke has won the Aachen DHL Prize twice in her career. Since the retirement a few months ago of her World Champion SAP Escada FRH to the broodmare paddock, ‘Bobby’ (Horseware Hale Bob OLD) has been Ingrid’s number one and is certainly doing justice to this status. After a good dressage (34.50) Bobby made sure that no faults were added to the score in the jumping or cross-country and thus secured his rider the victory.
Only two tenths of a point separated the three-time Olympic gold-medallist Michael Jung with La Biosthetique-Sam FBW from the winning pair. The course had been a major topic of conversation beforehand, with German coach Hans Melzer saying the time could prove hard to meet. However, good footing meant that riders could ask for some speed without risking injuries.
Michael Jung said: “I didn’t find the cross-country course more difficult than in the past years. The fact that the start had been changed, one could canter away faster and get into a good rhythm faster.” Ingrid Klimke, who rode last and thus had to wait in the warm-up area alone, said: “Bobby wanted to take off straight after Sam, and set off at such a pace at the beginning that we were much faster than I’d planned. But we did a lot of canter training at home in preparation, so we had plenty of energy towards the end.”
Shane Rose said the course had been built so that the horses gained more and more confidence as they went along. “And the difficult tasks then became no problem at all.”
Sir Mark Todd was the best of the New Zealanders, and one of only five to complete within the time, joining Ingrid and Michael, Oliver Townend and Chris Burton. Leonidas II looked magnificent storming around the course.
Tim Price had 7.2 time faults on Ringwood Sky Boy and finished 17th, but didn’t have any luck on his other horse, Cooley Showtime, who took a tumble. We understand that both Tim and the horse are okay.
There was also no luck for Jock Paget on another Price horse, Xavier Faer. The pair were eliminated on the cross-country – we understand they had a run-out at the first element of a combination but jumped the second, meaning elimination.
Blyth Tait and Darius finished 25th after adding 29.2 to their score from the first two phases.
Saturday’s show jumping
Christian Ahlmann rode his very consistent Zangersheider-bred Caribis Z to victory in Saturday’s 1.55m competition, with a clear round in 44.33 seconds. He was followed by Swiss Olympic gold-medallist, Steve Guerdat with the Selle Français mare, Ulysse des Forets (0/44.54 seconds). Ireland’s speed specialist, Bertram Allen, finished third with his 13-year-old Kannan daughter, Molly Malone V (0/44.81).
Grand Prix Special
The 2017 Nations’ Cup dressage was comprised of the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Spécial, the MEGGLE Prize. The Germans were already on course for success after the first part and didn’t disappoint. Isabell Werth with Weihegold, Sönke Rothenberger with Cosmo, Dorothee Schneider with Sammy Davis Jr. and Hubertus Schmidt with Imperio finished on a total score of 471.046, leaving the US Americans (450.392) and Swedes (437.635) in their wake.
The US team was Adrienne Lyle/Savlino (73.608%), Kasey Perry-Glass/Goerklintgaards Dublet (71.608), Olivia Lagoy-Weltz/Lonoir and Laura Graves/Verdades (81.824). The Swedish riders were Malin Nilsson/Bon-Ami (72.294), Juliette Ramel/Buriel K.H. (didn’t compete in the Spécial), Therese Nilshagen/Dante Weltino (74.784) and Patrik Kittel/Delaunay (74.157).
Not everything went quite as planned for the Germans, though. Untypically, Hubertus Schmidt had to make do with a score 69,451, the combined result of his horse, Imperio, pulling his head up after extended trot (normally his best movement) and Hubertus himself taking the wrong course. Dorothee Schneider’s beautiful Sammy Davis fulfilled all expectations though, scoring 75.261, and finishing sixth individually. Dorothee says: “I am very proud of my horse! Four months ago he was an international nobody and now he is on the Nations’ Cup team here in Aachen. He really fought for me today”.
The winners of the Grand Prix, Isabell Werth and Weihegold were competing in their first Spécial together since the Rio Olympics. The almost-black mare made a mistake in the extended trot, moved into the first piaffe too hesitantly and blundered in the two-tempi flying-changes. Nevertheless, the judges awarded a score of 81.059.
However, it was Laura Graves’ Verdades who really shone, and after a more or less perfect performance scored 81.824 to take the victory – a wonderful birthday present for Laura.