Aachen is the planet’s most prestigious horse show outside the World Championships, and this year’s extravaganza is set to be a thrilling competition, as combinations vying for WEG selection in all disciplines do battle.
New Zealand has a strong eventing team, and tonight Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation are the first Kiwi combination in the dressage arena – their test is at 6.54pm (8.54am Friday local time) – the fourth to go in front of the ground jury of Martin Plewa (GER), Anne-Mette Binder (DEN) and Andrew Bennie (NZL).
Clarke is part of an all-male Kiwi team; he and ‘Ritchie’ are joined by Sir Mark Todd on his magnificent grey, Kiltubrid Rhapsody, Blyth Tait on Havanna and Tim Price on Cekatinka, with Dan Jocelyn aboard Grovine de Reve riding as an individual.
All 43 horses were accepted at the first horse inspection held on a sunny afternoon at the picturesque venue – in fact not a single horse was sent to the holding box.
Teams from Australia, France, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden and the United States have been invited to take part in the eventing, which is not classified as a Nations Cup but is still running as a CICO3* team competition.
The Germans are the defending champions for both the individual and team competition at Aachen and usually dominate on home soil; German riders have won eight of the 11 runnings of the CICO3*.
Despite La Biosthetique Sam FBW and Opgun Louvo being withdrawn this week — both due to different hoof issues — Germany still has a strong team led by defending winners Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD. Julia Krajewski is also a threat to challenge for the top of the leaderboard with 2017 Luhmühlen CCI4* winner Samourai du Thot and this year’s Bramham CCI3* winner Chipmunk FRH.
Aachen also hosts many of the world’s leading dressage and show jumping riders this week.
In the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup, there were doubts beforehand if the title-holders, the hosts Germany, would be able to defend their crown after some erratic results earlier in the season.
But the team of three up-and-comers – Laura Klaphake (Catch Me If You Can), Simone Blum (DSP Alice), Maurice Tebbel (Chacco’s Son) – and one old hand in the form of Marcus Ehning (Pret a Tout) proved the doubters wrong.
With just four faults in total after both rounds, the Germans took victory over the team from Ireland (six faults) and the Netherlands (nine faults).
The win was dedicated to Hans Günter Winkler who passed away earlier this month. All four riders wore a black armband in remembrance of the show jumping legend.
There is livestream available here https://www.clipmyhorse.tv/en_EU/events/2062/chio-aachen