Consistently strong performances from all four team members secured a convincing victory for Germany at the opening leg of the FEI Nations CupTM Dressage 2015 pilot series at CDIO 3* at Vidauban in France today.
Victoria Michalke, Thomas Wagner, Sanneke Rothenberger and Bernadette Brune threw down the gauntlet in yesterday’s Grand Prix, but their winning margin was a slim one, with only 1.6 points separating them from The Netherlands in runner-up spot, while the host nation lined up a close third when a less than a point further adrift.
Today however the Germans pulled well out in front in the Grand Prix Special, boosted by the individual winning score produced by Wagner and his 13-year-old gelding Amoricello. And it was a special day in every sense for Brune, as the 40-year-old athlete who created the charming Domaine Equestre des Grands Pins in the heart of Provence and who, as Honorary President of CDIO3* Vidauban is involved in every detail of the event, stood on the top step of the podium alongside her German colleagues.
A total of five nations lined out in this first round of the six-leg series, and The Netherlands, Italy and Russia fielded just three riders per team. Event organisers have a choice of competition formats again this season, and at Vidauban the results from both yesterday’s Grand Prix and today’s Grand Prix Special were taken into account.
Wagner posted the German drop score in the Grand Prix when posting a mark of 68.46, but with 69.460 from Michalke and Dance On, 68.520 from Rothenberger and Wolke Sieben 21 and 69.340 from Brune with Spirit of the Age, their combined mark of 207.320 gave them a narrow advantage. The Dutch partnership of Dominique Filion and Wencienta produced the biggest Grand Prix score of 70.020, but 67.100 from Lynne Maas and Zamora and 68.600 from Laurens van Lieren and Ulysses La Haya left them trailing on 205.720 ahead of the French on 204.800.
It was a fairly evenly-matched contest on the first day, with Russia lining up fourth when totalling 200.740 and Italy in fifth with 199.420. But today the French rallied strongly to overtake the Dutch who have been unbeatable for the series title since the FEI Nations CupTM Dressage pilot concept was first launched two years ago.
Highest French score
Bertrand Liegard produced the highest French score when posting 71.333 with Star Wars for third place individually in today’s Grand Prix Special, and when that was added to the 69.393 picked up by Alexandre Ayache and Lights of Londonderry and the 68.451 earned by Stephanie Drieussel and Amorak, then Sarah Casanova’s 66.078 was the French discard for a total of 209.177 and an overall score of 413.977.
The Netherlands’ Dominique Filion was highly competitive once again today when earning 72.235 from Ground Jury members Raphael Saleh (FRA), Hans-Christian Matthiesen (DEN), Elisabeth McMullen (CAN), Peter Holler (GER) and Francis Verbeek von Rooy (NED) to fill individual second place. But 67.608 from Maas and 67.137 from van Lieren saw the Dutch add only 206.980 to their first-day finishing total, and that dropped them below the French by just 1.27 points on a final tally of 412.700. Italy’s Micol Rustignoli (Fixdesign Corallo Nero), Ester Soldi (Harmonia) and Leonardo Tiozzo (Randon) slotted into fourth on a final score of 397.616, while fifth spot went to Russia’s Larisa Bushina (Ju Ju), Tatiana Dorofeeva (Kartsevo Upperville) and Tatiana Miloserdova (Awakening) on a combined total of 397.466.
Delighted with the result
Brune had every reason to be delighted with the result. “I thought we could win, but to be honest I am in shock at the moment!” she said after the prize-giving ceremony. “Our horses all went really well today, they were calm and concentrated and just got on with their job, but yesterday it wasn’t so easy. For many of the horses it was the first time to go outdoors for a long while, and they were a little tense in the Grand Prix, but today it was much better.”
Thomas Wagner’s Hannovarian gelding improved impressively to take top marks today and help Germany to victory. “Yesterday I had little mistakes but today my horse was much better and this was a personal best with Amoricello. He’s 13 years old and I have been training him for 10 years so we know each other very well. Two years ago I won the German Professional Riders Cup with him but, at international level, this is my biggest achievement” he said.