- Written By:
Thousands of fans flocked to the German equine mecca of Aachen for the 2018 instalment of the CHIO World Equestrian Festival last week. Showjumping, driving, eventing, vaulting and of course dressage fill nine days of action on the world renowned showground and this year, many nations were using it for selection for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA this September.
The dressage proved to be a battle royale between the home nation and Team USA who’d sent over what looks to be their squad for WEG for a final test. Day one’s Grand Prix was a tight affair under the beaming sun in the Deutsche Bank Stadion. Helen Langehanenberg, back in action a matter of weeks after the birth of her second daughter, set the early pace for the home team with 77.03% and lead until the last group of riders for each of the teams of Spain, USA, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany.
Laura Graves was the final US rider to go with the seasoned Verdades, or ‘Diddy’, and they were spectacular to earn 80.6% to take the lead while the next rider, Cathrine Dufour for Denmark posted 78.49% to take second.
In the team competition, the USA somewhat surprised the hosts with a four top class performances to give a total of 231.98 while Germany were some three marks adrift after an uncharacteristic performance by team talisman Isabell Werth with Emilo.
The two British riders who flew the flag in the CDIO as individuals were very competitive on day one. Riding the Bechtolsheimer’s Rubin al Asad, now a sprightly 15 year old, Lara Butler (pictured) posted one of her best scores with ‘Rufus’ of 72.64% to finish an eventual 16th. Just two horses later, Emile Faurie rode Elena Knyaginicheva’s Delatio, back to competition after a six month minor injury break. A costly mistake in the one-time changes, worth double marks, was the only blip and 73.12% for 13th was the score.
On to Saturday’s GP Special and the battle for the team honours went into overdrive. The German star performer was back to her majestic best and 79.12% from Isabell Werth and Emilio 107 put the home team on a course for victory. Helen Langehanenberg, added a further 79%+ score with Damsey and 76.25% from Dorothee Schneider and Sammy Davis Jr sealed the Nations Cup victory after they turned a three mark deficit to a five point victory margin over the US with Denmark taking the final podium spot in third.
Once again, our British riders were in the mix, both with top 14 finishes. Emile was 13th again but with a slightly improved score in the more technically demanding test with Delatio. Lara and Rufus thrilled with a 72.93% to finish 14th, bettering her GP place by two.
With the team honours settled, it was on to the dressage showpiece, the Freestyle on the final day of the Festival. Team tactics out the window, it was full out for the €43,000 first prize. Laura Graves and Diddy, dancing for the first time since the FEI World Cup Finals in April, were the first to post a ‘significant’ score of 85.08%. Her compatriot Kasey Perry-Glass then stole the lead aboard the Diamond Hit sired Goerklintgaards Dublet with a well-crafted routine for 85.2%, which included two 90%+ artistic scores, which was a new personal best. It was then down to crowd-favourite Isabell Werth to ensure the coveted Aachen freestyle win. Emilio 107 certainly saved his best test until last to produce a performance which the judges awarded 87.62% for and the win went to the 49 year old German for the 12th time.
Lara and Rufus ended their Aachen debut together on a real high, scoring 76.37%, their highest score of the year, to finish 13th. Emile admitted Delatio felt a bit tired on the final day but 76.55% with the De Niro son in the company was more than satisfactory and will have boosted his WEG selection chances alongside his other top partner, Dono Dimaggio.
Catherine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy took their place in the Aachen history books as winners of the Dressage Champion of Aachen. The Trophy and €15,000 prize is for the combination which posts the highest title over the three tests – a great way for the duo to celebrate their partnership having been together up through the grades.
CDIO Grand Prix
1. Laura Graves with Verdades (USA) 80.6%
2. Catherine Dufour with Atterupgaards Cassidy (DEN) 78.49%
3. Helen Langehanenberg with Damsey FRH (GER) 77.03%
13. Emile Faurie with Elena Knyaginicheva’s Delatio (GBR) 73.12%
16. Lara Butler with Wilfried and Ursula Bechtosheimer’s Rubin Al Asad (GBR) 72.64%
CDIO Grand Prix Special
1. Isabell Werth with Emilio 107 (GER) 79.12%
2. Helen Langehanenberg with Damsey FRH (GER) 79.02%
3. Kasey Perry-Glass with Goeklintgaards Dublet (USA) 78.78%
13. Emile Faurie with Elena Knyaginicheva’s Delatio (GBR) 73.66%
14. Lara Butler with Wilfried and Ursula Bechtosheimer’s Rubin al Asad (GBR) 72.93%
CDIO Team result
1. Germany 464.35
2. USA 459.37
3. Denmark 444.10
4. Netherlands 439.21
5. Spain 437.68
6. Sweden 431.44
CDIO Grand Prix Freestyle
1. Isabell Werth with Emilio 107 (GER) 87.62%
2. Kasey Perry-Glass with Goeklintgaards Dublet (USA) 85.2%
3. Laura Graves with Verdades (USA) 85.08%
12. Emile Faurie with Elena Knyaginicheva’s Delatio (GBR) 76.55%
13. Lara Butler with Wilfried and Ursula Bechtosheimer’s Rubin al Asad (GBR) 76.37%
Dressage Champion of Aachen
Catherine Dufour with Atterupgaards Cassidy (DEN) 240.81