The World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany is arguably the world’s biggest equestrian event held each year. The world’s best come together to compete in five disciplines including jumping and dressage, the two disciplines whose World Cup Finals we will be hosting in Las Vegas next April.
Given that this year’s World Equestrian Festival at Aachen was just six weeks before the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France, the top riders in the world were on hand with their horses primed to perform their best. The results give us a hint of which horses and riders may be ready for medal-winning performances at Normandy and which ones we might be seeing next April in Las Vegas.
In dressage, most of the attention coming in was focused on Great Britain and its record holding duo of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, winners of double Gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games and also this year’s World Cup champions. The world was stunned to see Dujardin and Valegro turn in a sub-par performance in the team competition’s Grand Prix and receive a score of only 76.900%, their worst score since 2012. This was only good enough for a sixth place finish individually and left the British team in fourth place.
While there was disappointment, and maybe some concern, among the Brits, there was elation for the hometown German team as they saw not only a win by Germany, but also the long-awaited emergence of rider Matthias Rath with the former record-setting horse, Totilas, the 2010 World Cup champion and WEG triple Gold Medalist when ridden by Holland’s Edward Gal. Rath and Totilas scored a spectacular 82.300% in the Grand Prix, and also won the Grand Prix Special, showing that they may finally have found their groove.
After placing second to Rath and Totilas in the Special, Dujardin and Valegro redeemed themselves in the Grand Prix Freestyle where they rode to victory, although they did not have a chance to beat Rath and Totilas who withdrew from that competition. Finishing in second and third place in the Freestyle were German team members Helen Langehanenberg on Damon Hill NRW and Isabell Werth on Bella Rose 2 respectively.
Given that it is the Freestyle that determines the World Cup Champion, Valegro and Dujardin are probably still considered the favorites, at least until we see what happens at Normandy, but the performances of all the German riders, especially Rath and Totilas, shows that any one of them could be ready to challenge Valegro and Dujardin at Vegas next spring.
The U.S team of Laura Graves on Verdades, Adrienne Lyle on Wizard, Caroline Roffman on Her Highness O and Tina Konyot on Calecto V placed seventh in the Nations’ Cup with Graves placing 13th individually. Lyle and Graves were also impressive in tying for 10th in the Freestyle. One of the U.S.’s other top combinations, three-time Olympic veteran and 2009 World Cup champion Steffen Peters with Legolas 92, skipped Aachen as Peters was hospitalized with pneumonia. They remain strong candidates for the U.S. team for this year’s WEG and to make it to the World Cup in Las Vegas.
In show jumping, Christian Ahlmann of Germany, aboard his Olympic mount Codex One, won the Grand Prix with second place going to American Kent Farrington on Voyeur. Farrington had a stellar week with several top performances including winning the Prize of Europe qualifier for the Grand Prix. After his performance in the Grand Prix, Farrington’s Voyeur was awarded the Halla Award, which is given to the “Best Horse of the Show.”
Germany’s Marcus Ehning on Plot Blue and Daniel Deusser on Cornet D’amour placed third and fourth respectively and are both strong candidates to win it all at Vegas next spring. Ehning is a three-time World Cup champion (2003, 2006, 2010) and Deusser is the reigning World Cup champion having won the title on Cornet D’amour in Lyon, France this past April.
Several other U.S. riders also qualified for the Grand Prix and held their own against the world’s best, including Lauren Hough on Ohlala and Lucy Davis on Barron, who finished fifth and sixth respectively. The U.S. also looked strong in the Nations’ Cup team competition, placing second to Belgium with Davis turning in a double clear on Barron and Reed Kessler and Cylana totaling just four faults for the two rounds.
The results from Aachen could well be an indicator of what’s to come next April in Las Vegas and there is one thing that we know for sure – no matter who makes it to Vegas, next year’s FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas will present the world’s greatest riders and horses in exciting competition in the “Entertainment Capital of the World!”
With the completion of the exclusive renewal and World Cup Club ticket periods, all-session tickets for the 2015 FEI World CupTM Finals in Las Vegas are now on sale to the general public. If you haven’t ordered yours yet, be sure to do so today at the World Cup’s website at www.WorldCupLasVegas.com.