German Ulla Salzgeber claimed her second Aachen Grand Prix Dressage Champion's title after a brilliant win in the Grand Prix freestyle at the 2003 CDIO Aachen. Placing first with four judges -- only Linda Zang put her in third position -- Ulla had an overwhelming ride that made her score 83.61% and cash in her third victory of the weekend. "Every transition was good and Rusty was not distracted. I already had a super feeling, when I came into the ring. Everything went so well that I could laugh during the ride," said an overjoyed Salzgeber.
Salzgeber rode to her usual Carmina Burana theme, which still doesn't feel outdated. Every movement of Rusty is so strong, balanced and defined. The liver chestnut gelding flows through the wonderful hobo-tuned piaffe-passage tour with great confidence and ends in a climactic merger of music and flying changes. Judge at C Volker Moritz praised Rusty for being incredibly dynamic.
Finishing second overall and second in the freestyle was Lisa Wilcox on Relevant. The pair scored 82.39% with a technically difficult kur. Especially the transition from extended canter into a double pirouette was praise worthy. The extended walk could have been more groundcovering, but Lisa made up for that by riding a delightful piaffe-passage. "I'm extremely pleased this weekend, because I'm happy that he was able to keep his form throughout the competition," Lisa said.
American Debbie McDonald and her Hanoverian mare Brentina ranked third. Their Gershwin freestyle earned them 82.02%. McDonald's ride featured a large portion of piaffe and passage, which were excellently performed. The tempi changes every two strides on a half circle, followed by a short diagonal of changes every stride showed that the pair could handle a superior technical level. "I had a wonderful feeling today," Debbie said. "The atmosphere was fantastic; I knew it was going to be a good ride and I was able to keep that feeling in the test."
Volker Moritz explained that the difference between Brentina and Relevant is that Brentina is a horse shown with great precision and in harmony with every exercise, while Relevant has an unbelievable elasticity. Moritz gave Wilcox a 10 on her very first piaffe, and scored that other piaffe movements a bit lower, as they were too forward.
Placing fourth in the freestyle with 79.19% were Beatriz Ferrer Salat and Beauvalais. Particularly in the canter work did Beauvalais, a 16-year old Hanoverian gelding by Bolero, stand out. The trot extensions were also very appealing, but the duo lost valuable points by breaking into canter in the trot half passes. Heike Kemmer and her young Bonaparte ended fifth with 77.99%. Riding to Western film music, Kemmer accentuated Bonaparte's quality extensions. "The kur fits him well," Kemmer said, "but I rode to early to the music and that was a problem throughout the test."
Underrated by the judges were German Klaus Husenbeth and his Piccolino. They received 77.54% and were most likely 'penalised' for their one missed flying change after an extended canter> Nevertheless, they delivered a super extended trot on the E-B circle, nice tempi's and lovely pirouettes. The combination deserved to have ended in fourth place. Husenbeth responded with great relativity to his ranking. "I'm very happy that Piccolino ran three super tests. It's very important to me that he stays so consistent. This kur was very new to me. I only rode it once and I was very nervous whether everything would fit. I'm not a musical expert but I noticed from the audience that everyone liked it."
With a hattrick at the 2003 CDIO Aachen, Ulla Salzgeber won her second Aachen Grand Prix champion's title, her last one being in 2001. The most important trend to be observed at Aachen, however, was that the American dressage team is even more capable of coming closer to the previously undefeatable German team. The Aachen results are promising for the 2003 Open European Dressage Championships in Hickstead, England, in August 2003, where American are eligible to win a European medal.
Scores: CDIO Grand Prix Freestyle
Horsesdaily "On the Scene" at the 2003 CHIO Aachen