It was simply her year in Aachen: Ingrid Klimke! She won the DHL-Prize in Aachen, the three-star eventing competition, with Escada, came second with Hale Bob and won the team classification with her fellow team members. "I am going to be on the board!", beamed a stunned Klimke, raving and rejoicing. By "on the board!" Klimke was referring to the Winners' Board on the Judges' Tower, where the name of the winners are eternalised every year. "It has been sort of an insider 'running gag', the 47-year-old explained. 'I have always wanted to win here one day. Last year I came second, but I am absolutely stunned that I managed to come first and second this year." Her final score with both horses was the same as her result after the dressage, that means: With both Escada and Bob, she jumped clear in the jumping and completed the cross-country course without picking up any obstacle or time faults.
An exceptional performance. "I had a fantastic feeling with both horses," explained Klimke. "It was a dream. Both are top fit and have already won four-star competitions and were able to complete this three-star course without having to exerting themselves. They were ideal motivation rounds and as such the ideal preparation for the European Championships in four weeks' time." She didn't want to reveal which of the two horses is her favourite for the European Championships mid- September in Scotland and with a laugh replied: "I will pass that question over to our national coach."
The national coach, Hans Melzer, is spoilt for choice, he has never had as many top riders to choose from as this year and they all confirmed their form here at the Aachener Soers with first-class rounds. "Our younger riders were rather unlucky," explained Melzer after the DHL-Prize, "but all of the others rode like the devil." The 'young riders' he was referring to are the 20-year-old Niklas Bschorer, who has been living in England for the past four years and who competed in Aachen for the first time this year and the 22-year-old son of the two-time Olympic gold medallist, Hinrich Romeike, Claas Romeike. Both had a refusal in the cross-country.
In addition to Klimke, who had saddled Hale Bob for the team classification, the winning German team comprised of the double World Champion Sandra Auffarth with her World Championships partner Opgun Louvo, the Olympic gold medallist and World Champion Michael Jung with Halunke and Dirk Schrade with Hop and Skip. Furthermore, Auffarth came third in the individual ranking. Like Klimke, Jung rode two horses in the competition in Aachen, he came fifth with the eight-year-old Takinou and ninth with the 11-year-old Halunke. "Once again, Aachen was a fantastic show," Jung said with satisfaction. "It was the ideal preparation for the Championships and it also give us the chance to ride the dressage on grass again beforehand, because that is also going to be the case at the European Championships in Scotland."
In 2006, the German eventers took team gold at the World Championships in Aachen, since them they have won the team classification in Aachen every year without exception, in 2015 for the eighth time in a row! One day after this eighth victory, the eventing panel of the German Olympic Equestrian Committee will announce the riders of the team for the European Championships in September.
Second place in the team classification in the DHL-Prize went to the riders from New Zealand. They followed the Germans (120.5 points) on a score of 126.8 points, ahead of the riders from the USA with 192.9 points. "I was very happy how our riders mastered the course," grinned Chef d'Equipe, Erik Duvander. "And we are delighted with our second place."
The British team, which was close at the heels of the leaders after the dressage and jumping, was eliminated. The 22-year-old, Holly Woodhead, who had surprised everyone with a very good dressage result and thus was lying third in the field of 42 riders, didn't stay within the flags of one of the obstacles in the cross-country and had to be disqualified. This meant that only two team riders were left so they didn't have a team result.
The course designer of the cross-country course, Rüdiger Schwarz, harvested as much praise as Klimke. "Rüdiger is a master in positioning, no one can equal him!", praised the two-time team Olympic gold medallist, Peter Thomsen, who finished clear in the cross-country with Barny in just over the optimal time. And Chef d'Equipe Duvander admitted what many riders confirmed: "To be honest, after walking the course we thought it was a bit easier than in past years. But we were certainly proved wrong. It was a challenge, a real three-star course."
Aachen as a stepping-stone for the European Championships – the optimal test and the optimal result for Ingrid Klimke. "First of all, I am going to buy my whole team a drink!"