Nadine Capellmann and Elvis, Grand Champions of the 2006 CDIO Aachen

Monday, May 22, 2006

Four years after becoming the 2002 Aachen Grand Champion aboard the Westfalian gelding Farbenfroh, Aachen citizen Nadine Capellmann is back to the highest echelons of international dressage with Elvis VA, a horse which can and will shake up the future of dressage. Winning all three classes in a tight duel with Finnish Kyra Kyrklund, Capellmann and Elvis stormed to the top and have secured their place on the German team for the 2006 World Equestrian Games. The Hanoverian gelding Elvis VA (by Espri) has the most phenomenal moving mechanism and a passage to die for.

Nadine Capellmann was greeted with thundering applause when she entered the arena for the Kur to Music on Sunday May 21, 2006, and the ovations didn't stop until she gave the sign for her music to start. Riding to an Elvis Presley medley with traces of the King's voice, Capellmann presented a very smart choreography which answered completely to Elvis' current level in his Grand Prix training. Many of nice half passes in both trot and canter, much passage, great two-time changes, and a slightly tricky line of one-time changes and, of course, only very little piaffe as this is Elvis' weakest point at the moment. They scored 80.850% in the kur and became the 2006 Grand Champion of Aachen, succeeding Jan Brink and Bjorsells Briar who took the title there last year.

"That I can return here with Elvis on the holy turf of Aachen after Farbenfroh's death is a very special feeling for me," Capellmann stated. "Elvis is really a dream horse. We can finally trust each other more and I notice that he's waiting for my aids and is eager to do it right. He is really extraordinary."

Finnish Kyra Kyrklund put down absolute highlight performances aboard Yvette Conn's Swedish gelding Max (by Master). Compared to the 2005 European Dressage Championships, the liver chestnut gelding is more confirmed in his Grand Prix movements now and his rider can ask more brilliance from him. The combination's lightness, harmony and willingness to work are exemplary.

Riding to Enrico Moriconi music, Kyrklund scored 80.150% for her freestyle and stayed very closely on Capellmann's heels in all her three tests at Aachen. At the press conference, Kyrklund revealed that she might be riding a new kur at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen. She' had developed the current one for Max when he was still a baby, it being fairly simple and unsophisticated. She also said she'd heard much criticism on her music, which she liked very much, but "I'm not so stubborn, nor stupid, that I'd cling to it," she grinned.

The third place in the kur went to last year's winner Jan Brink on Bjorsells Briar (Magini x Krocket), who is trained by Kyra Kyrklund. At the World Cup Finals in Amsterdam in April, Brink mentioned that it's very hard to keep a horse on a high the entire show season. He's trying to achieve a peak at the World Equestrian Games, which means that one can't accept the same brilliance and power from Briar at every single show.

His freestyle was still outstanding, but the walk could have been more ground covering and sometimes some strength behind was missing. Nevertheless, a 79.375% ranked them at a respectable third place.

Danish Andreas Helgstrand and Blue Hors Don Schufro scored 79.225% and ranked fourth. The harmony and fluency in the combination's ride are a true joy to watch. Helgstrand was ahead of his music during the first half of the kur, but then he caught on and delivered a very elegant performance.

The 2006 CDIO Aachen was an outstanding dress rehearsal for the 2006 World Equestrian Games in August. It was a pity so few Dutch A-riders showed up for a title match, but we can expect a true clash of the titans in the summer when Anky and Salinero will be taken head on by Nadine Capellmann on Elvis, Kyra Kyrklund on Max, Isabell Werth on Warum Nicht, Jan Brink on Bjorsells Briar and Andreas Helgstrand on Blue Hors Don Schufro.

Text and photos: Astrid Appels/

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