Dutch “Doing Good!” Commanding Lead Midway in European Champs

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A fist pump of success by Adelinde Cornelissen on Parzival. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
A fist pump and a John Wayne jaw by Adelinde Cornelissen on Parzival. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WINDSOR, England, Aug. 25–The Netherlands took a commanding lead midway through the Nations Cup at the Alltech FEI European Championships Tuesday with Adelinde Cornelissen underscoring her words that Parzival is back better than ever by producing a record championship score.

The score of 80.638 per cent for Parzival and Adelinde, who hates to admit she turned 30 last month, was a whopping 7 1/2 percentage points higher than her team mate and second placed Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Hunter Douglas Sunrise on 73.149 per cent.

Holland’s team total after Tuesday’s first round was 153.787, a huge lead over Germany’s 141.915. Great Britain, whose Carl Hester on Liebling II was third individually with 72.085 per cent, was less than two points back on 140 with Denmark on 137.447 and Sweden on 136.893.

“We’re doing good!” an exuberant Adelinde exclaimed to dressage-news.com after she finished her round with a vigorous fist pump. Research showed that her score was a record for a championship, bettered only by Anky van Grunsven and Salinero at the Rotterdam CDIO three years ago that is not a championship.

From the moment the Dutch partnership entered the arena, spectators sensed it was a special performance. The pair received 10s and 9s, 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 to this point.”

Parzival, a 12-year-old chestnut Dutch warmblood, looked fitter, more confident and relaxed than during their 2008 breakout year which came to a sudden stop with an injury at the World Cup in Las Vegas in April.

Adelinde Cornelissen riding the powerful but relaxed Parzival on Tuesday's final passage tour. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Adelinde Cornelissen riding the powerful but relaxed Parzival on Tuesday's final passage tour. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

“I’m really concentrated and totally focused,” she said when this reporter pointed out that she seemed to ride much of the test with her eyes closed. “He is totally focused, too.

“And he’s better than before, more relaxed, more focused.”

The rehabilitation from the injury was good for him, she said.

So, too, was moving the horse to her own stables where Adelinde can now take him out four or five times a day.

Parzival is a difficult personality who likes to focus on one person otherwise he is “not the easiest” horse. The stronger bond that has developed between them in recent months, she said, is showing itself in the competition arena.

The championships on the historic Windsor Castle grounds with miles of stately woodlands and expanses of fields and lawns that are a rich green from the rain that intermittently drove the crowds away from the open stands Tuesday are living up to their billing of a close-fought contest that could see perennial superpower Germany fighting for the silver medal behind the almost certain Dutch gold. All of the top teams have four horse and rider combinations, and the top riders will compete Wednesday. Only the top three scores count, so anything can happen, except to the Dutch who need only one good score to clinch the gold.

Holland's Orange Brigade that follows their teams around the world had a lot to cheer about. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Holland's Orange Brigade that follows their teams around the world had a lot to cheer about. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Wednesday will see Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas, the stallion that posted a world record freestyle mark just last month that was remarkable for a 10-year-old, and the multiple Olympic, World Champion and World Cup combination of Anky van Grunsven and Salinero as the two remaining riders for the Netherlands. Both pairs are capable of 80+ per cent performances that should assure that Holland will retain the European Championship that they won two years ago in beating Germany for the first time in this biannual event.

Germany's Susanne Lebek and Potomac. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Germany's Susanne Lebek and Potomac. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

With Germany’s entire 2008 Olympic team sidelined, they are depending on Susanne Lebek and Potomac who scored 71.277 per cent, Ellen Schulten-Baumer and Donatha S on 70.638 per cent to place fourth and fifth, respectively Tuesday, and Olympic team reserve Monica Theodorescu and Whisper and Matthias Alexander Rath and Sterntaler-Unicef riding Wednesday.

Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Hunter Douglas Sunrise. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Hunter Douglas Sunrise. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Great Britain’s Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris and Emma Hindle and Lancet were both on the 2008 Olympic team and have notched significant international Grand Prix victories in recent weeks that give the home team supporters hope for silver, which would be their best ever result.

Carl Hester on Liebling II giving the thumbs up after his third place ride kept Great Britain in the medals hunt. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Carl Hester on Liebling II giving the thumbs up after his third place ride kept Great Britain in the medals hunt. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Denmark’s lineup for Wednesday is the talented Andreas Helgstrand and Tannenhof’s Carabas and Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein on Digby who appear to have peaked for these championships.

No major championship, especially one as so hotly contested, almost personal as the riders see each other so often on a year-round circuit, would be complete without questions about the judging.

The most glaring was for the ride of Schellekens-Bartels and Sunrise which scored 73.149 per cent.

Eric Lette of Sweden at C gave the pair the lowest score, 69.149 per cent, while Dr. Wojtec Markowski of Poland scored the ride 77.021 per cent. The score sheets indicated that Markowski did not see a mistake in the one-tempi changes.

For complete scores click HERE or go to the Home Page and click on RESULTS.