With overwhelming dominance did Ulla Salzgeber win the Grand Prix Special of the 2003 CDIO Aachen. Riding an absolutely flawless test with powerful traversal movements and a perfect piaffe-passage tour, Salzgeber scored 78.92% and placed first with all judges. Judge at H, Linda Zang, commented that, "she easily could have got 80%, if it were not for a slight problem in the flying changes." Rusty, a 15-year old Latvian gelding by Rebus, usually performs textbook tempi changes, but now there were some beauty mistakes in them. Nevertheless, this was probably one of Salzgeber's best rides ever on her number one Grand Prix mount.
Finishing second with a personal Special record score was Lisa Wilcox and Relevant. Although Relevant did not top his Grand Prix performance from Thursday, he did score higher today with his go in the Special. Relevant, a 12-year old Rubinstein offspring, was not so convincing in the trot tour at the beginning of his test. The stallion did not show the same strong submission in the extended trot and half passes as on Thursday, but he was definitely superior in the piaffe and passage. In the canter tour, Wilcox rode some very nice pirouettes, but the tempi changes were not as straight and pure as it should have been. The final piaffe and passage did show that Wilcox and Relevant are a threatening presence for the Germans to watch out for. Both Lisa Wilcox and Ernst Hoyos was very pleased with the flawless test that scored 77.04%, but it only needed some more fine tuning."It's good, but not good enough," Hoyos said.
Ending third in the Special were Klaus Husenbeth and Piccolino. Husenbeth, who is trained by Rudolf Zeilinger, presented his Hanoverian gelding with great brilliance. Piccolino moved elastically in the half passes and bounced off the ground in the extensions. Husenbeth and Piccolino received 73.28% from the judges. A car dealer by profession, Klaus Husenbeth is the best scoring German amateur Grand Prix rider at the moment.
Debbie Mcdonald was the second best American scorer in the Special. Brentina showed a very flowing trot tour, but the passage could have been more engaged. The mare seemed a bit tired and, although she tried hard, she lacked that extra bit of specialty today she displayed in the Grand Prix. The main reason that her score got stuck at 'only' 72.68% was the McDonald-Brentina "tempi changes' jinx". Both in Jerez and Aachen, the tempi changes seem to be the combination's major problem. The pair always rides a perfect test up until the tempi's and then it goes wrong. In the Grand Prix, the two's had messed up her wonderful score. Today in the Special it were the tempi's every single stride that interfered with the picture of total harmony.
An outstanding accomplishment came from Steffen Peters and Grandeur. The combination finished ninth with 70.84% and beat Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff on Renoir, a pair also bugged by the tempi change-jinx. That Peters and Grandeur are in a great form was obvious after the Grand Prix, but today in the Special they were in brilliant shape.
Grandeur is twice the horse he was three years ago. Rhythmical half passes, balanced extensions in trot and canter and elegant collections in the piaffe and passage were Grandeur's fortes. Only the tempi changes were a bit short. Tom Meyers, Grandeur's equine therapist, jokingly said that "he's [Grandeur] like a good bottle of wine; he gets better with age."
Guenter Seidel and Nikolaus placed thirteenth with 68.20%. The Westfalian gelding Nikolaus broke into canter in the transition from passage to extended trot and the first two piaffe moves were tensed and unbalanced. The traversal movements, however, were very pretty, as well as the final extended trot.
With two victories in a row, Salzgeber is holding a firm grip on the lead in the CDIO Grand Prix championship at Aachen. The Grand Prix freestyle is the final class which will determine the winner of the 2003 CDIO Aachen.