Rising Dutch dressage star leads Europeans

August 26, 2009

Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen steered Parzival into the lead in the FEI Dressage Grand Prix at the Alltech FEI European Dressage and Jumping Championships at Windsor Castle yesterday, ahead of team-mate Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Hunter Douglas Sunrise.

Carl Hester's score of 72.080%, which left him in third place after 28 of the 54 starters came into the ring, is a big boost for the host country which lies third behind Germany at the halfway stage of the team competition.


Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival led the way in the Dressage Grand Prix.
Cornelissen was more than delighted with her result as Parzival can be ring-shy and was not entirely impressed on his first visit to the arena for yesterday's warm-up. But, as the 39-year-old rider explained, when she gets his full attention "then I have a good hope". All her hopes were exceeded however when the powerful 12 year old chestnut earned a mark of 80.638% after a breath-taking performance that kept spectators gasping with delight all the way through.

It was clear from the moment the Dutch partnership entered the arena that this was going to be something special - Parzival's halt was a real "look at me!" moment - and from there it just got better with 10's and 9's consistently rewarding the big-moving gelding whose long white hind-leg socks draw even more attention to his extravagance of movement.

Asked if he was impressed with Cornelissen's score, Dutch Chef d'Equipe Sjef Janssen said "over 80 is more than impressive" and he pointed out that this partnership had been "getting better and better by the end of last year" and obviously had huge potential.

"I knew if he (the horse) could concentrate then he would be super because he has no weak points," Janssen said, "he's so strong, he's got like a turbo-engine behind," and Janssen added that he is "pretty happy with my team until now".

Cornelissen worked patiently with her veterinary surgeon and trainer following Parzival's sudden exit from the Rolex FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Las Vegas in May to bring her super-horse back to full health. A check ligament injury seemed serious at first, but the horse responded really well and he came out in Hickstead last month to finish second behind Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas.

"He was so relaxed there and actually the break probably did him a lot of good - and today - I'm so happy he showed what he can do!" she said.

Schellekens-Bartels set the early standard with a mark of 73.149% when second into the arena this morning and Hester lined up behind her when he took his turn in the final grouping of the day which also included the eventual leader.

Hester admitted however that although his 12 year old bay, Liebling, gave it everything he cannot produce the superbly athletic movements that come so much more easily to the Dutch-team horses.

"My horse is a £10,000 show jumper bought at a sale - he tried his hardest today and I'm really happy with him" he said.

He has been riding the horse for only 10 months and this is just their fifth international show together. He took Liebling to Saumur just three weeks after the horse came to his yard and won there "but our form was a bit up and down" until they went to Aachen this summer where the partnership really began to gel.

"I took three weeks out of my usual schedule before Aachen and went to Denmark to train with my friend, Anne Van Olst, and it really paid off," he said.

He got into a bit of a training frenzy before these Championships at Windsor however - "I was so stressed, so I talked to our team manager Richard Davison and to my vet and they both told me the same thing - take a break!". He left Liebling off work for three days and then, today, came out and delivered their best ever result.

The combined scores of the two Dutch riders leaves The Netherlands in the lead on a total of 153.787% at the halfway stage of the team Championship with Germany in second carrying 141.915% after Susanne Lebek and Potomac slotted into fourth place with a mark of 71.277% and Ellen Schulten-Baumer steered Donatha S into fifth with 70.638%. However the British are close behind with 140.000% after Hester's good score was added to the 67.915% recorded by ninth-placed Maria Eilberg and Two Sox.

Anky Van Grunsven and Salinero are expected into the ring just before the lunch-break today, and the final Dutch contenders, Edward Gal and Totilas, are included in the final grouping later in the day, after which the team medals will be awarded.