AACHEN, GERMANY--Laura Graves went to Aachen with a clear goal in mind: to win.
And she did just that , winning the Grand Prix of the Prize of the Tesch Family on July 19 while her most fierce opponent and constant rival, Isabell Werth, clearly underperformed.
The Grand Prix was the first part of the Nations Cup for dressage, so that certainly is going to add an extra touch of excitement to the second competition, which the U.S. currently leads.
The judges awarded Laura Graves a score of 80.606 percent for her performance in the Grand Prix Verdades.
A super result and the clear lead as well as the lead for the U.S.
Along with Graves 80.606, her team mate Kasey Perry-Glass, who placed fifth with Goerklintgaards Dublet, was awarded 76.801 percent after a very harmonious ride.
The US team was completed by Adrienne Lyle with Salvino, 74.581 percent, and Steffen Peters with RosaNmunde, 71.351.
THE U.S. has the lead with a total interim score of 231.988, ahead of Germany with a score of 229.798 and Denmark on 223.106.
But Graves had to wait until the last pair performed before she could celebrate her victory, because the last pair to compete were Werth and Emilio.
The Westphalian-bred gelding had to fill in for Werth’s World Cup winner, Weihegold, a decision that the German Dressage Committee took in view of the World Equestrian Games in Tryon.
Emilio didn’t perform in the Grand Prix the way he usually does.
In the first piaffe he wanted to demonstrate that he also masters the exercises of the High School and tried to rear.
Werth coped well with that thanks to all the experience she has gained after winning 595 national and international Grand Prix with 27 horses, but Emilio didn’t calm down.
Diverse further mistakes followed, which ultimately led to a final score of 72.516 percent.
Nobody had reckoned with that., and no one could explain it either.
“I don’t know what happened," said Werth. "I will have to sleep on that one first. One certainly envisages something totally different for the Nations Cup in Aachen…”
One thing is sure: Graves and Verdades rode to victory in the Prize of the Tesch Family at the CHIO Aachen for the first time in their careers!
Werth and Emilio finished in 17th place in the Grand Prix.
Second place went to the bronze medallist of the European Championships, Cathrine Dufour on Cassidy with 78.494 percent., although she also had a big slip-up when the 15-year-old gelding spooked after the transition from collected walk to passage and leaped forward.
But luckily he found his concentration immediately again.
“Otherwise the test went very well for us,” she said later.
Third place could almost be described as a wonder of Aachen: Helen Langehanenberg gave birth to her second daughter, Finja, just four weeks ago.
A few days later she announced that she intended to ride in Aachen.
She had already mentioned the plan in the spring in Neumünster during the World Cup show – adding: “But it will have to be a precision landing.”
Her daughter Finja obliged.
Langehanenberg mounted her team European Champion, Damsey, just five days later.
During the rider’s maternity leave her “super team” kept him fit so he hadn’t forgotten a trick, so much so that on Friday the national coach Monica Theodorescu rang Helen Langehanenberg and told her that she had been nominated for the team in the Nations Cup instead of competing in the CDI4* Tour.
“I couldn’t breathe for the first three seconds,” said Langehanenberg.
But nerves have never been a problem for her.
“I am not the type who gets nervous," she said. "And I can’t do any better than ride well.”
Which is exactly what she did, earning 77.034 percent, a personal Aachen record for her and Damsey in the Grand Prix.
“I can’t really say, because I have never given birth to a child, but that she rode that well is amazing,” said Theodorescu.
The team from Denmark, which currently lies in third place, comprises of Cathrine Dufour with Cassidy, Anna Zibrandtsen with Arlando (70.434), Anders Dahl with Selten HW (70.093) and Daniel Bachmann Andersen with Blue Hors Zack (74.177).
The Grank Prix was the first part of the Nations Cup of dressage with the second competition is the Grand Prix Spécial, so, nothing is decided yet.
WITH A DOUBLE CLEAR performance, Devin Ryan OF Long Valley, N.J., and Eddie Blue were one of four clear rounds the U.S. Show Jumping Team had on the grass in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup CSIO5* Aachen on Thursday, July 19, at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen.
Led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, the U.S. team finished in fifth and included Laura Kraut riding Zeremonie, Margie Engle riding Royce, and Beezie Madden riding Darry Lou.
These riders are all shortlisted to compete in the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon in September.
In addition to Ryan’s double-clear rounds with Eddie Blue, there were also clear rides from Olympian Margie Engle of Wellington, Fla., on Royce in round one, as well as four-time Olympian Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., on Darry Lou in round two.
Olympic gold medalist Laura Kraut of Wellington, Fla., posted an uncharacteristic eight faults in each round with Zeremonie.
“Devin's double-clear rounds are impressive; it’s his first time at Aachen," said Ridland. "The reality is we had a bad night, but we still had four clean rounds. We have to look at Aachen as part of our preparation for the WEG, and we are putting all the pieces in different situations throughout the summer. Some nights just aren’t our night. We set a high standard for ourselves. We set the bar high, and when we’re not on the podium we consider that things didn’t end up the way that we wanted it to, and that’s true. However, this is all part of the process to prepare ourselves for the WEG.”
The U.S. team finished on 16 faults.
The home team of Germany topped the podium with four faults, while Ireland placed second on six faults and the Netherlands was third with nine faults.
Ryan and Eddie Blue were one of only three double-clear performances on the day.
THE U.S. EVENTING Team will contest its third Nations Cup of 2018, the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ CICO3* Aachen at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen.
Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander will lead Will Coleman riding OBOS O'Reilly, Buck Davidson riding Carlevo, Lauren Kieffer riding Landmark's Monte Carlo, and Kim Severson riding Cooley Cross Border in the competition from July 19-21.