The chairman of Rotterdam Frans Lavooy earlier had said he hoped to celebrate the new Rotterdam grandstand with a Dutch victory. He received his present as Adelinde Cornelissen defended her Windsor title in style. With her horse Jerich Parzival in superform she recorded her second successive victory in the Grand Prix Special at the FEI European Dressage Championships 2011 in Rotterdam. But today's competition was an altogether different affair as the Windsor's experience. Despite the highest expectations, the leading riders all made significant mistakes including the eventual champion. Very unexpected Cornelissen started to do the two tempi changes toward the judges, instead of riding her half passes. This costed her 0,417% for the punishment of -2 of each of the seven judges. Cornelissen stayed cool as a cucumber, and not only did she calmly take it up and carry on, she rode with renewed determination and really pulled it off with 9.1 for the one-tempis and another for piaffe before the scoreboard showed 82.113 for her remarkable effort. Without any tension she turned her horse and recovered herself immediately to produce a faultless test with great highlights in the piaffe and passage in the end. "I knew I had to ride double-well afterwards!", she explained, "I am so proud of Jerich Parzival, he did everything so well!"
British Riders Took Silver and Bronze
Carl Hester and Uthopia were fantastic again. There was a buzz of excitement as this relatively inexperienced stallion flashed yet another of his fabulous extended trots for an average mark of 9.8 when second-last to go. Surely, it seemed, this would challenge Cornelissen's leading score. More good marks followed for passage and half-pass, but where Cornelissen had lost it in the one-tempis it was the two-tempis that went all wrong for the British duo whose mark of 3.4 knocked them right back, and with a final total of 81.862 they couldn't challenge for the lead.
Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris produced a much-improved performance to that shown in Thursday's Team Championship. the 16-year-old gelding faded as the test progressed. "In the first part he felt perfect - right on the button - but when I picked up piaffe he realised he was a bit tired and began to lose impulsion. I tried to energize him a bit but than we had mistakes.
Too bad, but I'm still very happy with the bronze of course", she explained. Britain's new starlet, Charlotte Dujardin, also rode a truly charming test with Valegro, but several horses seemed to be tiring including this nine-year-old, who broke into canter as she attempted to execute half-pass.
The podium with the Dutch and British colours and no German pride to celebrate, shows that dressage really has made a turn. It's like showjumping, people were joking. After mistakes you are out and this weeks winner has not to be next week's winner as well. Harmony is the decisive word, which also was remarkably well showed by Sweden's Patrik Kittel with Watermill Scandic HBC. The pair earned high marks for good passage and excellent piaffe to put 76.801 on the board. In the end he became fifth, which could have been higher with this great composure and harmony.
Disappointments for Germany
This Grand Prix Special seemed not to be the time for Germany to shine. Isabell Werth started with a great test, putting up the score above 80% for her strong and proud movements and extensions. Even the piaffe in the start seemed to work better than in Grand Prix, although she dropped down to 76%. When the one tempi changes showed a bad start with mistakes and the one tempi changes in between the pirouettes also had a mistake, Isabell knew she hardly could reach a medal position anymore.
The uncertain performance of Germany's Matthias Alexander Rath and Totilas was the biggest disappointment of course. Their first halt was almost unkind and they never seemed to be in real harmony. Apart from very nice moments in between, they never seemed to be in real harmony and Totilas even jumped out the piaffe once. "It simply takes at least a year to be a combination, even for an experienced rider and experienced horse", Dutch teamtrainer Sjef Janssen commented. The pair ended at the fourth spot.