By Louise Parkes
ODENSE, DEN (FEI) – Dutch riders claimed the first two places in the opening leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage 2012/2013 series at Odense in Denmark today where defending champions, Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival, scored a convincing victory.
Edward Gal, series champion in 2010 with Totilas, lined up second with Blue Hors Romanov while Danish riders filled the next two places. Anna Kasprzak, at 22 years of age the youngest competitor in today’s Freestyle, pipped the considerably more experienced partnership of Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and Digby when slotting into third, while Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Don Auriello lined up fifth for Sweden.
It was an exciting test from Cornelissen whose career highlights include back-to-back Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage titles in 2011 and 2012, double gold at the 2011 European Championships, and individual silver at this summer’s Olympic Games in London, all partnering the chestnut gelding who, at 15 years of age, still sparkles.
Today’s result was all the more remarkable for the fact that the 33 year old Dutch rider is altering her riding technique. Prompted by the words of Olympic Ground Jury President, Great Britain’s Stephen Clarke, who said after she finished behind British gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin at Greenwich Park this summer that Parzival needed to show “more lightness and self-carriage” in order to beat Dujardin’s ride, Valegro, Cornelissen is working on just that. And, as she pointed out today, “it’s getting better and better, and it feels really amazing!”
In yesterday’s preliminary Grand Prix, Cornelissen and Parzival’s winning scoreline left them just over three percentage points ahead of Kasprzak and Donnperignon with Gal and Blue Hors Romanov taking third. Today however their winning margin was far greater.
The surprise package of the Freestyle was the impressive opening performance from Joachim Thomson and the 10 year old bay gelding Akeem Foldager who set a high standard when putting 75.150 on the board. Next in however, Norway’s Siril Helljesen decided to retire when her test with the 10 year old mare, Dorina, fell apart.
Denmark’s Sidsel Johansen raised the game considerably when taking the lead with a test that was bubbling with enthusiasm and a pleasure to watch. The 13 year old Schianto produced lovely extended trot during a performance that earned a mark of 77.300, but Cornelissen and Parzival put the result beyond doubt when, two horses later, they racked up a massive 88.175.
They were not perfect all the way through, experiencing what the rider describes as “some miscommunications” on both days of competition. As Cornelissen explained, “I’m doing things a little differently, so of course sometimes Parzival doesn’t clearly understand yet. He says ‘what are you doing now?’, like going from passage to canter it is slightly different and he went into walk instead of canter. It takes time to make a change, but I’m really happy with him and how much relaxation he is showing”, she explained.
It is all a long way from the tense and worried gelding who, just a few short years ago, so often lost his nerve when under the spotlight. “He’s enjoying it so much more” the rider explained.
She had been planning to give Parzival a break when the Olympics were over, “but he didn’t like it, he hated it after a week of watching the other horses going out to do things – he wants to work and he loves the attention and the crowds these days, even the prize-giving!” she added.
It was her Dutch colleague, Gal, who came closest to her winning score today riding the Danish-owned Oldenburg stallion Romanov. Gal, who took over the ride a year ago, said the horse’s concentration is improving, and, like Cornelissen, he is targeting the second leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage series at Lyon, France and the fourth leg at Stockholm in Sweden over the coming weeks.
Kasprzak and her 13 year old Donnerhall gelding Donnperignon have thrown down a strong challenge to their Danish counterparts with their excellent third-place finish at today’s season-opener.
Cornelissen meanwhile has shown that a hat-trick of Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage titles is well within her reach. Parzival is retaining his power and presence despite the changes he is being asked to make, and is quickly adapting to his softer outline. He positively swaggered through his trademark passage/piaffe routine as his test drew to a close today. He may be learning to do it a bit differently, but he will still be the one to beat when it comes to the final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April.
For further information on the first leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2012/2013 series in Odense, Denmark check out website www.jbkhorseshows.dk or contact Press Officer, Christel Droeyer, at Email firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel +45 292 686 26. The next leg takes place at Lyon, France on Friday 2 November 2012. For details on the French fixture check out website www.equitalyon.com or contact Press Officer Pascal Renauldon, Email email@example.com or Tel +33 (0) 608 759407.
Result: 1, Jerich Parzival (Adelinde Cornelissen) NED 88.175; 2, Blue Hors Romanov (Edward Gal) NED 80.650; 3, Donnperignon (Anna Kasprzak) DEN 77.825; 4, Digby (Nathalie zu Sayn–Wittgenstein) DEN 77.600; 5, Don Auriello (Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven) SWE 77.375; 6, Schianto (Sidsel Johansen) DEN 77.300; 7, Dablino FRH (Anabel Balkenhol) GER 75.625; 8, Akeem Foldager (Joachim Thomson) DEN 75.150; 9, Elvia VA (Nadine Capellmann) GER 74.800; 10, Uzzo (Patrick van der Meer) NED 74.675; 11, BMC Miciano (Marlies van Ballen) NED 72.800; 12, Furst Khevenhuller (Helen Langehanenberg) GER 72.075; 13, Donnerfee (Claudia Fassaert) 66.475; 14, Ferdi (Maria von Essen) SWE 61.250; 15, Dorina (Siril Helljesen) NOR Ret. Full results at www.scgvisual.com