In her first overseas international competition of the year at Horses & Dreams in Hagen (GER), Laura Bechtolsheimer and her 16-year-old gelding Mistral Hojris (nicknamed Alf) and Andretti H swept the board with four wins across four Grand Prix classes. Two Grand Prix, the Grand Prix Special and also the Freestyle Grand Prix - Sparkasse Prize "in Memoriam George Theodorescu" - were won by one lady. Laura Bechtolsheimer also claimed victory with Andretti H in the freestyle, in the conclusion to the international dressage programme at Horses & Dreams meets Germany. There cannot be a much better way to finish off a weekend of sport. It is quite clear that you can always count on the 26 year old Brit, who was born in Germany!
Riding WEG triple silver medallist Mistral Hojris, Laura impressed to post exceptional scores of 81.489% in the Grand Prix (for Special) and 81.583% in the Grand Prix Special. "For his first show of the year it couldn't have gone better." Laura said, "We are both just getting back into it and as the season goes on, we'll put more and more power into it."
Scoring tens for piaffe and transitions to passage Laura explained, "Alf's tests will always be good for top marks and it's nice to be in a position where I can ask for more from him when I need it."
Planning and Peaking
Planning and Peaking
With the 2011 EC in Rotterdam and the Olympic Games 2012 on the horizon, Laura is conscious about peaking at the right time and has planned Alf's schedule accordingly, "We will compete at Wiesbaden in June and have five week intervals between competitions. Than Aachen is on our schedule of course. I try to lay-off and do the best for him; at home we work on his suppleness and fitness out hacking, on the gallops and outside of the arena to keep him motivated."
Ever the showman, Alf demonstrated his enjoyment for being back on the scene in Hagen. "On the first day he was playfully bucking and anyone who saw him could see the twinkle in his eye - he came down the centre line in a way that only Alf can!", Laura expressed.
With the current national champion Andretti H, Laura clinched the Grand Prix (for Freestyle) on 74.383% and the Grand Prix Freestyle with 78.725%. To an up-beat reggae soundtrack the pair beat their personal best scores in both classes, "He did some fantastic stuff. He was a little tired in the freestyle as it was a hot day and he hasn't been to a big show like that in a while, but I'm seriously happy with him."
As a result of winning the GP Special, Laura Bechtolsheimer recommended herself for the final of the Meggle Champions series.
First ten for Uthopia
First ten for Uthopia
Continuing the British success, Carl Hester and the Metall sired stallion Uthopia secured second place in the Grand Prix Special on 77.563% and third in the Grand Prix (for Special) with 75.426%. Uthopia is very elegant and shows like he has no problem at all with whatever challenge or excercise. Last year Uthopia needed a break due to an injury caused in breeding. Now the time seems to be there fior the pair, Polish judge Markowski even saw Uthopia and Hester as the winning pair.
Carl and the ten-year-old he co-owns with Sasha Stewart smashed Carl's personal best scores for both classes. They were also awarded their first ten at Hagen for the one tempi changes. "There were several new experiences for me at this show!" Carl explained, "Uthopia is an exciting prospect for both breeding and as a team horse. I have had him from four-years-old and he has always been an Olympic prospect for me, ours is a long partnership that is paying off."
Partnering her own Florestan I eleven-year-old gelding Fernandez, Charlotte Dujardin finished seventh in both the Grand Prix (for Special) on 71.085% and the Grand Prix Special on 71.146%. Charlotte's mentor Carl Hester commented, "They are an elegant combination and both still in their first year of international grand prix. Charlotte's rise is amazing and she hasn't scored below 70% at this level - there's still a lot more to come from them."
German teamrider Anabel Balkenhol and her horse Dablion came third. "I have only ridden in two small tournaments with Dablino this year," says Balkenhol, "he is very fresh now, but also a bit more settled and mature." Lingen, Hamburg, German national championships in Balve - that's the schedule for Anabel Balkenhol and Dablino.
German professional Hubertus Schmidt can be greatly admired by his performances aboard Twinkel. This horse used to be showed by his Dutch pupil Willem Jan Schotte and made his first appearance after four weeks training in Hagen, climbing up to third position in the Freestyle, quite a challenge! Schmidt made another new pair with Ferro-son Valentino G and was quite successful as well in the Special-Grand Prix-tour.
Hat-trick for Hartwig Burfeind
Hat-trick for Hartwig Burfeind
Talking about German professionals, for the third consecutive time, Hartwig Burfeind from Sandbostel in Lower Saxony has won the German Professional Dressage Rider's Championship. Burfeind entered the horse exchange final with Sonja Bolz from Kerpen and Markus Gribbe from Lastrup. The horse management master best presented the horses of his competitors, and, with 3711 points, triumphed once again. Markus Gribbe took second place with 3621 points, just in front of Sonja Bolz (Kerpen) with 3592. All three competitors are proven professionals with a wealth of experience in training both horses and two-legged pupils.
The German Professional Rider's Championship at Hof Kasselmann is one of the season's highlights for dressage trainers. The championship is embedded in the international dressage tournament, and has one of the most championship-worthy settings. The professional riders want to enjoy this in the future, and are therefore going to take part in the financing of the prize money and the costs of the German Professional Riders' Championship in future. "Where else do we enjoy so much publicity and such good conditions?" clarified Hartwig Burfeind. "I have organised events myself before, and I know just how much goes into the running of them." Without further ado, the pro telephoned quite a number of colleagues and together raised the budget for the German Professional Riders' Championship. "I would like the Kasselmann family to be able to feel relaxed about taking on this task."
All three professionals went into the horse exchange final with quite young horses - candidates who do not yet have very many Grand Prix events under their belts. "I had to work really hard," admitted Burfeind - but that was true for all the finalists...
Satisfied with Horses & Dreams 2011
The great attraction exercised by the dressage programme and participants translated into satisfaction for tournament dressage manager Dr. Ulf Möller. For Möller and his team, there were compliments galore. Bechtolsheimer and Balkenhol expressed: "We are very spoilt here...". Organiser Ullrich Kasselmann seems quite relaxed about the "holiday at Horses & Dreams meets Germany" being over: "It's a shame that it is all over yet, but I believe we can be satisfied with the running of the event, the visitor numbers and with the sport we have seen here." The organiser of the 10th Horses & Dreams in Hagen a.T.W., for whom Horses & Dreams "is always like a wonderful holiday", could refer with pride to visitor numbers of around 63,000 spectators over five tournament days, guests from all over the world, an excellent run in the lifestyle exhibition, and smooth organisation. "I don't think we can build any bigger", explained the founder of Horses & Dreams, and he noted that there could always be the problem of poor weather.which definitely had not been the case this sunny weekend.
Hof Kasselmann was able once again to underline its competence in organising international tournaments. The question quickly arose as to whether they might consider organising international championships, or probably the German Championships. Ullrich Kasselmann's response: "That is an issue that has come up before - but it's difficult. If the World Association FEI asked us, we would look into whether it could work, but championships are always allocated well in advance." The year 2005 was an exception - following a last-minute cancellation by Moscow, Hof Kasselmann organised the European Championships Dressage in just 14 days. An amazing organisational force indeed.
It is great to see the scores reach over 80% in Grand Prix and even have 11 horses scoring above 70% in Grand Prix this early in the season. This is a promise for really much more to come this season. Those who would like to memorize: the World record score in Grand Prix is 84,09% reached by Gal and Totilas. Find all world records here. All results have already been send to you. Find them also here and of course at at www.dressagedirect.com