AACHEN, Germany--The U.S. Dressage team was leading after the Grand Prix, the first round of the Nations Cup in Aachen, but Germany came back strong in the second competition, the Grand Prix Special, to win the gold medal with the U.S. taking the silver medal on Saturday, July 21 at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen.
Under the leadership of Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover, the U.S. team of Laura Graves, Adrienne Lyle, Kasey Perry-Glass, and Steffen Peters produced a final score of 459.371, just 4.98 points behind the German team.
In the Grand Prix, Germany's top rider, Isabell Werth, had a bad day on Emilio and ultimately landed in 17th place, which left the path clear for the USA and giving the win to Laura Graves on Verdades.
But then in the Grand Prix Special, it was Graves who had an uncharacteristically bad day on Verdades as he spooked at a camera and ended on a score of 74.085, while Werth came back with a 79.128 to clinch the win for Germany.
IN THEIR first appearance since earning a reserve title at the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final, Graves of Geneva, Fla., and Verdades, had started the week strong for the United States.
They won Thursday’s Grand Prix with a score of 80.606 percent to help put the U.S. in strong position for Saturday’s Grand Prix Special.
“When you get a horse to this point they know their job, they know all the tricks,” said Graves. “It just becomes really about these half-point marks and trying to give the horse confidence. Verdades is a really tricky, sensitive horse. He puts so much pressure on himself, so most of my job is helping him take that pressure away.”
With less than three points separating The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team from second-placed Germany, the battle for a podium finish was far from over, as competitors of all nationalities rode with expert precision in Saturday’s Grand Prix Special.
Peters of San Diego, Calif., led the way for the team as the first ones through the in-gate, where he and Rosamunde earned a 72.362 percent in addition to their score of 71.351 percent in Thursday’s Grand Prix.
Surprised by a moving camera when passing the judges booth, Verdades spooked during the second extended trot, causing him to continue to be spooky through several movements along that same side of the arena.
Graves was able to refocus his energy for the end of the test , but they finished on a score of 74.085 percent.
Rio Olympian Perry-Glass of Wellington, Fla., rode two superb tests aboard Goerklintgaards Dublet, producing brilliant scores of 76.801 percent in the Grand Prix and 78.787 percent for third place in the Grand Prix Special.
“My ride went super well today,” said Perry-Glass. “I was really confident in our warmup. It was just about getting that confidence in the ring. After Thursday’s ride, I knew I had to go in there and perform again, and really show that we can be consistent at our scores. I feel like our changes were spot on and the pirouettes are getting better. It is just a matter of putting it all together and really going for it.”
2012 London Olympian Lyle of Ketchum, Idaho and Salvino performed consistently for the United States throughout the week, garnering a Grand Prix score of 74.581 percent and a Grand Prix Special score of 74.511 percent.
“Winning the Grand Prix was a grand thing for America,” said Dover. “We have to take into consideration that in Tryon for the WEG, the Grand Prix will be the Nations Cup, the medal. That is very exciting. We are thrilled that we have had some extraordinary rides from our horses here in Aachen, in both of the tours here, and a fantastic group of athletes.”
Germany won the six-nation competition with a final score of 464.351, and Denmark earned bronze on a team result of 444.106.
AFTER HIS disastrous round in the Grand Prix, it was Emilio’s birthday gift to Werth, the 79.128 percent in the Grand Prix Spécial, which is the second competition in the Dressage Nations Cup.
Helen Langehanenberg wassecond with Damsey after scoring a personal record in the Spécial of 79.021 percent, followed by the American rider, Kasey Perry-Glass with Dublet on 78.787 percent.
The two further German team riders, Dorothee Schneider with Sammy Davis Jr. and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl with Dalera BB, came sixth on 76.404 and seventh on 76.255 respectively.
With a total score of 464.251 the Germans won over the U.S. with 459.371 and Denmark was third on 444.106.
“I feel very guilty, and I am so sorry for Emilio that I didn’t listen to what he was trying to tell me,” said Werth of her finish in the Grand Prix. “Emilio was back to his normal self today, and we are a team again!”
After her unfortunate Grand Prix performance, Werth had to ride as the 12th pair today, so she hadn’t expected to stay in front until the end.
“My colleagues lent me some support there," said Werth, who is now 49. "That was obviously their birthday present for me.”
It would only have been fair if her colleagues did help her, since she did her fiercest rival Laura Graves the same favour last year.
The MEGGLE Prize was staged on July 22 last year, on Graves‘ birthday, and she managed to beat Werth for the first time.
And in the Special, it was Graves' Verdades who had a bad day, and he finished 11th on a score of just 74.085 percent.
Helen Langehanenberg was amazed at her second place with the Hanoverian-bred Damsey FRH,as she only gave birth to her daughter, Finja, four weeks ago, and she was nominated for the team by national coach, Monica Theodorescu, only one week ago.
“I already thought on Thursday that is the best we can do, but obviously not," said Langehanenberg. "I have only been riding again for three and a half weeks, our last test was in February. Maybe sometimes a break helps. I enjoyed the test today. I had a super safe feeling today and everything was really easy in spite of the heat.”
The American dressage rider, Kasey Perry-Glass, also put in fantastic performances at the CHIO Aachen with the Danish gelding, Goerklintgaards Dublet.
Two judges actually had placed her first.
Perry-Glass and the elegant dark bay horse competed in Europe for the first time in 2016, and their performances were very popular here.
Her appearance at Aachen in 2017 were rather disappointing, but this year she even managed to leave the European Championships bronze medallist, Cathrine Dufour and Cassidy, behind her.
THE DRESSAGE team ended its week in Aachen on a strong note.
With the coveted Deutsche Bank Prize on the line for the prestigious Grand Prix Freestyle of Aachen, U.S. dressage riders did not disappoint as they rose to the occasion and landed second and third on the podium behind Germany's Isabell Werth and Emilio 107.
Kasey-Perry Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet, Diane Perry’s 2003 Danish Warmblood gelding, scored a personal best of 85.205 for the second tier on the podium, and Graves on Verdades, a 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding she owns with Curt Maes, placed third with a score of 85.085.
"After I saluted, I knew it was a really good test," said Perry-Glass. "It went just like my Grand Prix and my Special. I just felt like he was very with me and really wanted to show that he’s up there with the top horses."
“CHIO Aachen is like no other horse show in the world,” said Dover. “Because of that, when you’re making Aachen your final observation event for the WEG, you hope that the athletes will always have their dreams come true and the best rides of their lives.”
In the CDI4* tour, Peters and Suppenkasper, Four Winds Farm's 10-year-old KWPN gelding tied for third with Denmark’s Betina Jægera on a score of 71.340 percent in the CDI4* Grand Prix Special on Friday evening.