Germany Without Isabell Leads at Halfway of Nations Cup at CHIO Aachen

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Heike Kemmer and Bonaparte leading Germany to halfway lead in CHIO Aachen Nations Cup. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Heike Kemmer and Bonaparte leading Germany to halfway lead in CHIO Aachen Nations Cup. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

AACHEN, Germany, July 1–Germany, minus superstar Isabell Werth on her Olympic mount Satchmo, was leading at the halfway point Wednesday of the Lambertz Nations Cup at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen. The closeness of the scores with the top horses and riders set for the second day means anything can happen Thursday.

Doping, though, was again the major topic of the world’s premier horse show with the absence of Werth who is hugely popular and widely admired not only with Germans but among the large number of knowledgeable spectators from around the world.

Kemmer, after her ride on Bonaparte, summed up the atmosphere.

“I would like to add that the situation now in Germany is very frustrating,” she said.

“The theme dope is in everyone’s mind and mouth and it is very difficult to concentrate on the sport properly at the moment.”

Heike Kemmer and Bonaparte, gold medal team mates of Werth and Satchmo at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, won the first round with 70.723 per cent, with Ellen Schulten-Baumer on Donatha S finishing seventh with a score of 67.787 to give Germany a total of 138.510 per cent.

The Netherlands was in second place with Marlies van Baalen on BMC O’Jay DVB finishing fourth Wednesday with 68.702 per cent and Sander Marijnissen on Moedwill ninth with 65.702 per cent for a team total so far of 134.128 per cent.

Marlies van Baalen on BMC O'Jay DVB. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Marlies van Baalen on BMC O'Jay DVB. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The Danish team was just over one percentage point further back with 2006 World Equestrian Games medalist Andreas Helgstrand in third place with Tannenhof’s Carabas at 69.064 per cent and the U.S.-based Mikala Gundersen on Leonberg, owned by Horses Unlimited of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 11th place on 63.915 per cent.

Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven on Solos Carex placed second Wednesday at 69.957 per cent, but she rode as an individual.

The U.S. has two riders, World Cup Champion Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, and Ravel and German-based Catherine Haddad and Cadillac, who will both compete Thursday as individuals. A third combination that would have been enough for a team had to pull out.

In the hotly contested and prestigious Nations Cup, The Netherlands has an opportunity Thursday to claim only its second title since the event was introduced in 1977. Germany has won it every year except for 2005 when the Dutch led by Anky van Grunsven and IPS Salinero claimed the title.

Van Grunsven, again on Salinero, her 2008 Olympic individual gold medalist mount, will be riding Thursday along with Olympic team mate Hans Peter Minderhoud and Exquis Nadine.

With Isabell suspended as a result of the a banned substance in her small tour horse, Whisper, Germany is placing its hopes on the amazingly successful but still developing Herzruf’s Erbe ridden by German Olympic veteran Ulla Salzgeber and the rising but inexperienced rider Matthias Alexander Rath and the inconsistent Sterntaler-Unicef.

Heike Kemmer said after Wednesday’s ride on Bonaparte that two mistakes prevented a higher score: in a pirouette and the tempi changes.

She said her horse was looking at the big video screen and tended to veer to the right in the tempi changes on the diagonal.

Holland’s van Baalen said that BMC O’Jay “used to be spooky and looked at everything.

“But now in the biggest dressage show in the world he was totally with me! I am very happy. He just kept his mood, didn’t exaggerate and worked for me.”

Marlies took over the ride of the big black Jazz gelding from her mother, Coby van Baalen, last October. ”Normally it takes about a year to be a pair. It’s amazing to think about our short history together and the improvements made!”

Dutch team coach Sjef Janssen joked about Marlies’ entourage.

“She did a good job,” he said. “And she is here with three trainers at least, her mother, Johann Hinnemann and me.”