German riders dominated the line-up in Lyon, France on Friday, when Ulla Salzgeber
and Herzruf's Erbe won the second leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage 201l/2012 series ahead of two other former series double-champions.
Germany's Ulla Salzgeber and Herzruf's Erbe won the second leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage 2011/2012 series in Lyon, France. © FEI/Kit Houghton
Salzgeber, who recorded back-to-back victories with the great Rusty in 2001 and 2002, pipped fellow-countrywoman Isabell Werth
and the horse with which the latter recorded the second of her two successes in 2005 - Warum Nicht - while Monica Theodorescu
, champion in 1992 and 1993, steered Whisper into third place.
Salzgeber was particularly pleased with her result, as she only had a few short days to prepare her horse ahead of the competition. She has not long returned from the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico where her protege, Constanza Jaramillo, was in action. And it was a successful venture as the Colombian rider, competing with her trainer's former ride Wakana, helped scoop team bronze as well as her country's qualification for next year's Olympic Games in London.
It was The Netherlands' Hans Peter Minderhoud who led the field at the halfway stage with a score of 74.100 from Withney van't Genthof. But Italy's Valentina Truppa produced a charming test from the bright and willing chestnut gelding Chablis to overtake the Dutch duo with a mark of 74.800 as the action resumed. And she remained in front until the last three riders took their turn, and Salzgeber forged ahead with a strong score of 81.625. She was helped by a big extended trot and good passage from the 11 year old horse on whom she was third at last season's final on her home turf in Leipzig, Germany.
It seemed that Werth would challenge that lead following an extravagant opening sequence of movements, but the 15 year old Warum Nicht was in cheeky mood. Before the pair entered the arena he had already produced some fancy footwork when his rider asked for his attention, and, after exploding out of piaffe, he grew strong in the one-tempi changes although the veteran rider soon had him under control again. Werth said afterwards however that she was "happy and proud" of her horse.
"He always makes mistakes in the one tempi, but not today although he was a little spooky at the beginning. He is really good at the extensions and today we took a lot of risks - extension and collection," she said, having earned a score of 80.075.
"We had a little mistake after the extended canter. But he was much more relaxed compared to previous shows and did a great job," Werth said. "He has been in the sport for seven years and I would like to keep in the good form that he has now. Satchmo is 17 and it is always difficult to find the right time to retire such a successful horse. It is always better to say goodbye when you're still at the top. We have three younger horses coming up and are lucky to be in a good situation."
Last into the ring was Theodorescu who produced an elegant test from Whisper, but her mark of 77.375 would only prove good enough for third place. "He is my only Grand Prix horse," the rider explained. "I have young ones and good ones so we'll see in the future, but at the moment I can't really choose the horse I'm riding at competitions."
Salzgeber described herself as "happy, like yesterday!" when she won the preliminary Grand Prix by a significant margin over Werth and in which Austria's Victoria Max-Theurer finished third with Augustin.
"Today my horse was tired and so was I, but we did a good test - and we are not good at riding at night. We had a degree of difficulty in our test but he is a very supple horse and he loves piaffe and passage and the transitions into extended trot," Salzgeber said. She now plans to compete at Stuttgart and Frankfurt, and was high in praise of the show organisers at Lyon.
"I'd like to say thank you on behalf of all the riders, this is one of the best indoor shows in the world. And thank you Reem Acra for making this such a wonderful event," she said.
Italian rider Susanna Bordone, who finished tenth with the only mare in the competition - Dark Surprise - added her praise for the facilities at the French fixture. "This is one of the best indoor arenas in the world because the distance between the public and the competitors is just right - not too near and not too far," she said.
Ground Jury member, Isabelle Judet from France, described the organising team as "very professional," and said, "they have proven that this is great show with both the quantity and quality of riders. They can be proud of what they have done."
The Ground Jury at today's event was At E, Mariette Withages BEL, At H, Wojtek Markowski POL, At C, Isabelle Judet FRA, At M, Dieter Schule GER, At B, Ghislain Fouarge NED.
A capacity audience of 6000 spectators watched the competition.
This was the second of nine qualifiers in the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage 2011/2012 series.
The next leg takes place in Stuttgart, Sweden in November.