July 8 marked the last day of the 2007 World Equestrian Festival, CHIO, held in Aachen, Germany. Show jumping, eventing, dressage and vaulting were on display. The Americans made a strong showing, but only one U.S. competitor took home the big win. Here’s how it came down in Germany.
The Rolex Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of the World Equestrian Festival was pure excitement. Three riders reached the final jump-off and risked everything. After the first competitor Roger-Yves Bost from France picked up four faults in a time of 54.45 seconds with his stallion, Ideal de la Loge, Christian Ahlmann wanted to give all. “I desperately wanted to win the Grand Prix of Aachen and knew that I would have to jump a speedy round, because my fellow competitor Beezie Madden’s horse Authentic, is one of the fastest in the world. So, I decided to risk all I could, which proved to be too much in the end,” said 32-year-old Ahlmann. Eight faults in 52.88 seconds was the end result of the 14-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding ridden by Ahlmann. This left everything wide open for the World Champion of Aachen 2006: American rider Beezie Madden. The 43-year-old jumped clear in a time of 59.31 seconds. Madden was a member of the gold-winning team at the Olympic Games in Athens. In Aachen last year she took silver with the team. Anne Kursinski with Starman was the last American rider to the win the Grand Prix of Aachen 1991.
“Winning here is a super victory for me that I definitely wanted to add to my list of successful results. It was very exciting riding here,” Madden said after her winning ride. “At the start I risked more and rode faster, but toward the end I was able to slow the pace down because my aim was to jump clear.”
Cheering, German rider Frank Ostholt raced toward the finish line to claim victory in the DHL Prize eventing competition. “It was fantastic! We, the eventers, have been longing to be able to compete at the event in Aachen for ages. We are all delighted that we are finally part of it now. For us it is the ultimate event, on a par with the Championships,” commented the 32-year-old eventer. He had saddled his gold medalist horse from the WEG in Aachen, Air Jordan. With the 12-year-old Air Jordan, owned by the German Olympic Equestrian Committee, Ostholt already took the lead after the dressage, rode clear in the jumping and only picked up 3.6 time faults in the cross-country. With an overall score of 39.40 points, he beat his Swedish fellow competitor, Linda Algotsson, who completed three excellent competitions with 17-year-old Stand By Me. Third place went to the French rider, Nicolas Touzaint, with his 12-year-old French-bred horse, Hidalgo de l’Ile. The 27-year-old’s final score was 45.60.
The German National Eventing Coach, Hans Melzer, was satisfied: “We are very happy that we are able to compete at the CHIO and hope that this will remain so in the future too.”
The team classification also saw a German victory (140.3 points). Great Britain secured second place with 159.70 points, ahead of Sweden with 160.50 points. The British team comprised of Zara Phillips/Toytown, Sharon Hunt/Tankers Town, Francis Whittington/Sir Percival II and Emily Baldwin/Drivetime. Competing for Sweden were Linda Algotsson/Stand By Me, Sara Algotsson/Robin des Bois, Viktoria Carlerbäck/Bally’s Geronimo and Anna Hilton/Mr. Dalby.
Isabelle Werth’s new freestyle routine was intended to be emotional and it certainly was: “It was really sensational, it was fantastic,” the 37-year-old rider said enthusiastically. Werth remained unbeaten in all three competitions of the event. She claimed final victory in the Deutsche Bank Prize at the World Equestrian Festival with a score of 82.35 percent. “Things couldn’t have gone better for us,” explained the double World Champion of the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen. “I wanted to introduce emotions into my new freestyle music, which contains elements from Vangelis sung by Montserrat Caballe. I seem to have succeeded in doing so.” Her victory in the Freestyle meant that she also secured first place in the Dressage Grand Prix of Aachen. She additionally won the Piaff Prize in memoriam of Liselott Schindling – this special prize is awarded to the dressage competitor who has achieved the best placings during the show.
Second place went to the Dutch rider, Anky van Grunsven, who received 81.45 percent for her Olympic and World Championships freestyle routine. “In fact, I wanted to present our new freestyle routine here in Aachen, but unfortunately it wasn’t ready in time,” reported the 38-year-old, who gave birth to her second child in March. Many of the spectators obviously considered her score to be too high, since they started whistling when it was announced. The pair showed mistakes in the extended trot and in the flying changes and also didn’t stand still at the halt and the salute.
A thoroughly delighted Jan Brink finished third. “Everything fitted perfectly to the music, was very flowing and Briar was extremely fresh and motivated,” the Swedish rider commented about his ride, which brought him a score of 77.55 percent. Brink has contested two Olympic Games with his 16-year-old stallion and they also won the Grand Prix of Aachen in 2005. The pair came eighth at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen last year.
German rider Nadine Capellmann, one of the crowd’s favourites, was disappointed. Her World Champion team gold horse, Elvis VA, shook his head several times at the start of the freestyle. “An insect must have got into his ear. I thought, oh no, where’s this going to end, but after a while he luckily managed to calm down again. He was tremendous in the warm-up, it was such a shame,” Capellman said. With a score of 74.5 percent she finished sixth behind Ellen Schulten-Baumer and Donatha (75.55 percent).
Germany reigned supreme in the vaulting competitions, which also came to an excellent close. “We weren’t expecting this victory at all. We had two strong competitors and we didn’t even know in the run-up to the event whether we would be able to compete. Namely, our horse Cepin was ill for a long time, he had a bad lung infection and was in the clinic for four weeks. Things went up and down for a while and we also missed the first qualifier for the European Championships. Aachen was our first international competition after the victory at the Rhineland Championships. We are extremely happy that we were able to win here,” commented Jessica Schmitz of Germany, who herself won the World Championships three times, the European Championship title twice and was German Champion six times. The team achieved an overall score of 8.591 points to take first place. The team is trained by Kai Vorberg, who went into the lead in the men’s individual competition after the second round.
In the ladies’ competition the Austrian vaulter, Sissi Jarz, triumphed with a score of 8.463 followed by Nicola Ströh/Hamburg on Lanson (8.394) and Marion Graf/Switzerland on Lanson (8.353).