July 7, 2008

Dutch rider Albert Zoer rode into the jump-off last and pipped leader Ludger Beerbaum at the post in the Grand Prix of Aachen at the weekend.

Zoer rode a fantastic round and reached the finish line in a time of 48.99sec with the nine-year-old KWPN gelding Sam, and thus claimed his second Grand Prix victory within two weeks. Ludger Beerbaum secured second place in the last competition at the World Equestrian Festival, CHIO 2008, on All Inclusive NRW, with a clear round in 49.03 seconds, ahead of Carsten-Otto Nagel on Corradina.

Eight competitors qualified for the jump-off, four of them representing Germany. Carsten-Otto Nagel with Corradina was first to jump, and went clear with the Corrado daughter in the time of 49.83 seconds. Ludger Beerbaum was three hundredths of a second faster with the nine-year-old Westphalian gelding All Inclusive NRW. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum also jumped clear, but took a few seconds longer to finish the course (50.69), putting her into fifth place in the final ranking.

The clocked stopped at 50.68 seconds for Beezie Madden, who had hoped to win the Rolex Grand Prix for the second year running, fourth place was the end result for her. With her World Championship horse Authentic, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding by Guidam, Madden's target is now set on the Olympic Games in Hong Kong.

The fourth German competitor was Holger Wulschner on Clausen. The 12-year-old Holstein Colato son, who is incidentally a half-brother to Christian Ahlmann's Coster, unfortunately picked up 8 faults (49.67) and finished eighth. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson collected four faults in the jump-off with the KWPN gelding Ninja La Silla by Guidam. The Swedish rider won silver with the team at the Olympic Games in Athens and came fourth in the individual classification. McLain Ward knocked the last fence with his Olympic horse Sapphire, who he won team gold in Athens and team silver at the FEI World Equestrian Games with. The Belgian mare descends from Darco.

• With a final score of 145.05 points, the Dutch driver Ijsbrand Chardon has won the combined classification of the driving events, the Prize of the Richard Talbot Family, 11 times. The 47-year-old once again extended his collection of titles at the World Equestrian Festival. Second place went to the Hungarian driver Zoltan Lazar, ahead of the US-American Chester Weber (154.06 points).

The Dutch team won the Nations' Cup with a total score of 301.54 points, ahead of Hungary (317.21) and the United States of America (317.33).

• Her form is almost uncanny: Isabell Werth remained unbeaten at Aachen 2008, after also winning the Deutsche Bank Prize, the Dressage Grand Prix of Aachen in the Grand Prix Freestyle with Satchmo: With a score of 80.15 percent, she triumphed in this competition despite a few mistakes in the flying-changes and half-passes.

"I had a great feeling, the music has an emotional effect on me every time. We have altered the music from last year, since we received a lot of criticism that it contained too much singing. Originally it comprised of Vangelis melodies, but now it has been completely recomposed. The voice sounds more like an instrument now," Isabell Werth said.

"I hope that we can repeat our form at the Olympic Games as well, because Satchmo is going to have a short break before I prepare him for Hong Kong."

She then added: "There is no doubt about the fact that we have got to improve a few exercises, and the same applies to the other riders." Things didn't run smoothly for the remaining German riders: Nadine Capellmann finished seventh with Elvis VA on a score of 73.05 percent and Heike Kemmer only came 11th, after receiving a score of 70.5 percent.

Hailed the "shooting star of Aachen", Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen stood up to the pressure well, claiming second place with a score of 77.5 percent. "It is certainly no disgrace being placed behind Isabell Werth," laughed the 28-year-old English teacher. She is nominated as the reserve rider for the Olympic Games.

Third place went to the Swiss rider Silvia Ikle on the 14-year-old gelding, Salieri CH, who scored 77.35 percent. "My horse gave a fresh performance, the tango music underlines his graceful movements, and we didn't make any big mistakes." She doesn't regret her decision not to compete at the Olympic Games. "It wasn't an easy decision to take, but I made it very consciously and in my opinion it was the right decision."

Danish rider Andreas Helgstrand ranked sixth on the nine-year-old Continue son Gredstedgards Casmir. Sweden's Jan Brink, finished in seventh place behind Helgstrand. "Unfortunately, Briar made several mistakes, which was annoying. But he is motivated and fit, which is the most important thing," Brink said.