Germany has taken out the opening FEI Nations Cup Dressage leg at the CDIO 3* at Vidauban in France.
Consistently strong performances from all four team members secured the convincing victory in the pilot series of the competition for Victoria Michalke, Thomas Wagner, Sanneke Rothenberger and Bernadette Brune. The foursome threw down the gauntlet in Friday’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.
But on Saturday 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, 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.
Brune, 40, had plenty of reasons to be proud, as both show organiser and competitor. “I like it when I organise an event and it goes well, I like to put something back into the sport. For me it’s a bit different, I’m only doing dressage for few years now, before that I was a jumping rider,” she explained.
“I thought we could win, but to be honest I am in shock at the moment!” she said after the prize-giving ceremony. Talking about her Oldenburg stallion, Spirit of the Age, she explained, “I only started riding him in Grand Prix 18 months ago and he has been very successful, moving up from 3* to 5* very quickly. And three years ago he didn’t do dressage at all, so he’s really progressed and he’s still only 11 years old!”
Five nations lined up 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 the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special were taken into account.
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.
Victoria Michalke, who is based near Munich, really enjoyed the whole Nations Cup experience. “Competing as part of a team was great fun! The nice part is that you watch the other riders and they watch you and they support you – you want them to have a good test and they want the same for you – it’s a lovely feeling!” she said.
She also has a long history with her Oldenburg gelding, Dance On. “I have him since he was two years old and he’s 13 now. We have improved and grown together,” said the talented young German rider. “Last year I was on the Under-25 Nations Cup Team at Aachen, but this is my first team competition as a Senior and I’d love to get on another opportunity to ride in a Nations Cup because my aim is to one day be on a team for the European Championship. I have learned a lot from this – it’s been a wonderful experience!”.
The next leg of the series takes place in Wellington, Florida from March 24 to 28.
- Germany 420.556: Dance on (Victoria Michalke) 69.460/69.765, Amoricello (Thomas Wagner) 68.460/72.667, Wolke Sieben 21 (Sanneke Rothenberger) 68.520/69.490, Spirit of the Age (Bernadette Brune) 69.340/70.804.
- France 413.977: Ulan (arah Casanova) 66.440/66.078, Star Wars (Bertrand Liegard) 69.040/71.333, Lights of Londonderry (Alexandre Ayache) 69.080/69.393, Amorak (Stephanie Brieussel) 66.680/68.451.
- Netherlands 412.700: Zamora (Lynne Maas) 67.100/67.608, Wenicienta (Dominique Fillon) 70.020/72.235, Ulysses La Haya (Laurens van Lieren) 68.600/67.137.
- Italy 397.616: Fixdesign Corallo Nero (Micol Rustignoli) 66.920/66.000, Harmonia (Ester Soldi) 64.54064.176, Randon (Leonardo Tiozzo) 67.960/68.020.
- Russia 397.466: Ju Ju (Larisa Bushina) 65.960/63.922, Kartsevo Upperville (Tatiana Dorofeeva) 67.360/67.510, Awakening (Tatiana Miloserdova) 67.420/65.294.