The Netherlands' Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival secured their fifth victory of the season when coming out on top at the last qualifying leg of the 2010/2011 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Western European League at 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands this afternoon. They now look sure-fire favourites to scoop the title at the final which takes place in Leipzig, Germany from 27 April to 1 May, and the Dutch rider said today - "yes, we're in pretty good shape!". Germany's Isabell Werth and Warum Nicht produced a wonderful test, but still had to settle for runner-up spot ahead of Dutchman Hans Peter Minderhoud whose mare, Exquis Nadine, was really on her toes. And fourth place went to Germany's Helen Langehanenberg and Responsible whose star has been steadily rising throughout the current season.
SET THE STANDARD
Catherine Haddad led the way at the halfway stage having set the standard with a score of 74.10 from the flashy chestnut Winymaro who seems to thrive in front of an audience. And the American rider was smiling broadly as she left the arena to the strains of the crowd singing "Happy Birthday" in celebration of her 47th year. Her score was immediately overtaken as the action re-started however, although Great Britain's Richard Davison had to work hard for his mark of 77.025. His 12 year old gelding, Artemis, decided some of the greenery surrounding the arena was extremely suspicious and never fully settled throughout his test.
The Netherlands' Marlies Van Baalen presented no great threat when putting 73.925 on the board with BMC Phoebe, but defending champion Edward Gal then forged a new lead with Interfloor Next One who produced some sparkling piaffe for a score of 78.875, and this marked the beginning of the real battle for supremacy. Denmark's Princess Nathalie zu Sayn Wittgenstein and Digby scored 77.825 to slot temporarily into second before Werth and Warum Nicht got into their stride and produced a polished, determined and quality performance that took them out in front. "He was so super!" the double FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion said afterwards. "This was one of his very best tests, and I can't believe it - we had no mistakes in the changes!" she added. So now the remaining three were chasing her mark of 82.050.
The home crowd groaned with disappointment when Hans Peter Minderhoud's efforts left him trailing Werth by more than two points. His mare was on fire from the outset and her rider, never a man for taking half-measures, took all the risks as he produced lovely trot extensions, a piaffe during which she was swinging from side to side in time to the music and the fearlessly forward extended canter that has now become Minderhoud's trade-mark. It was his team-mate, Cornelissen, however who knocked Werth off her perch with another stunning performance from Jerich Parzival who was simply oozing confidence. "We did make one small mistake when he did a flying change after the extended canter but otherwise he was fantastic" she commented. And the Ground Jury thought so too as they posted a massive 87.900 on the board.
Last in, Helen Langehanenberg was never going to beat that, but her partnership with Responsible is something special to watch and the 12 year old mare's charming test was good enough to secure 79.125 and fourth place in this world-class field.
"Yesterday Parzival was so relaxed and today he felt really good again" said Cornelissen who, remarkably, has claimed the honours at half of the 10 Western European qualifying rounds this season. She believes her horse's confidence has been reinforced by his training routine which includes doing a lot of things that other dressage horses may never get to do. "He goes out in the field, I take him for rides in the woods and we go cantering on a racetrack quite a lot - that's what makes him happy. In training its about controlling him all the time, but its great to just go out and have fun together too - its all been about building up trust and he's learned to really enjoy himself now" she explained. And she added, "that's why I don't take him into the prize-giving anymore - I don't want to lose that trust because it really worries him".
She has no plans to compete Parzival ahead of the final, the line-up for which is expected to be confirmed soon. In accordance with the rules, the permitted distribution of starting places is as follows: Western European League 9 places, Central European League 2 places, Pacific League 1 place, North American League 2 places, South American League 1 place, the title defender (The Netherlands' Edward Gal), and 2 FEI starting places. Only three riders per country can compete, and this includes the host nation.
RESULT: 1, Jerich Parzival (Adelinde Cornelissen) NED 87.900; 2, Warum Nicht FRH (Isabell Werth) GER 82.050; 3, Exquis Nadine (Hans Peter Minderhoud) NED 79.725; 4, Responsible (Helen Langehanenberg) GER 79.125; 5, Interfloor Next One (Edward Gal) NED 78.75; 6, Digby (Nathalie zu Sayn Wittgenstein) DEN 77.825; 7, Artemis (Richard Davison) GBR 77.025; 8, Winymaro (Catherine Haddad) USA 74.100; 9, Apollo van het Vijverhof (Jeroen Devroe) BEL 73.975; 10, BMC Phoebe (Marlies van Baalen) NED 73.925; 11, Krawall (Jenny Schreven) NED 73.325; 12, Skovlunds Mas Guapo (Mikaela Lindh) FIN 72.050; 13, Corinth (Marcela Krinke Susmelj) SUI 71.150; 14, Leo Af Magnushoj (Nina Hoffmann) SWE 70.675; 15, Pro-Set (Lilann Jebsen) NOR 69.575. Full result at www.indoorbrabant.com