The Louisdor-Prize for young Grand Prix horses, is yet another highlight that makes Frankfurt so special, but the day has already started fairly spectacularly, when I open the door of my hotel, I find the world is a glistening white, and snow is gently falling. Usual German efficiency, right in time for Christmas…
I love Foundation, he really is a stallion and he has so much scope and power, but the problems with his education are very much to the fore. The horse has such a great trot and the half passes are perhaps the best we have seen, but the bay is so tight over the back, that it can’t produce a piaffe, and the flying changes look like a bullfighter’s routine. Matthias Rath and Foundation finish the day last on a score of 65.36, which really is a pity…
The contrast with the chestnut stallion, Blue Hors Veneziano, could not be more extreme. The Danish horse is only a little guy, 1.70 cm, and Daniel Bachmann Andersen is so tall, 1.90, but the horse never looks small because he has such a wonderful frame. The test is so complete, everything in such beautiful unforced balance. At the end the crowd explodes, and all five judges have them in first place at this stage, with a score of 75.14%.
There are really only three now who can beat the Danish pair, and one of them is in the arena right now – Hubertus Schmidt and Escolar. Here is another stallion of great power but it is channeled, harnessed in the best possible way. The test starts well with some amazing half pass, but starts to come apart in the piaffe, going into the first, the horse comes to a full stop and manures, there’s a little levade in the second, and it is hard work to get out and into passage. The natural gaits are unrivalled, the canter is huge and the changes breath-taking, but once again the horse stalls on the final piaffe on the centre line. 71.9%
Now there’s only two that can beat Daniel – one pair is Destiny and Kristina Bröring-Sprehe. This is another lovely horse and one you can picture in a German team before too long, but they too fall apart in the piaffe. The horse is only nine, and today they have to settle for 73.12% and eventual second place. Daniel is still in the lead with only (only!) the favorite to go – Famoso OLD and Benjamin Werndl.
Famoso’s first few moves are flash, but still he is slow behind in the big trot, and there is a backwards tendency in the first piaffe. There is a one at the beginning of the twos, and the gelding blows up at the end of the zig zag, a mistake in the ones, and he breaks at the end of the trot diagonal.
As we wait for the score to come up, Benjamin tells the interviewers, “It was my fault today, I went in as the favorite, it is not something I have done before, and I have to learn to cope with a totally different situation for me.” Nice that Benjamin has conceded defeat but when the scores come up, three of the five judges – Ghislain Fourarge, Peter Holler and Christof Umbach – think he has won.
This show has been marked by great horses, wonderful riding, and appalling judging.
Daniel had his way of dealing with the pressure:
“I went in there today not to win, I went in to ride mistake free and without pressure, so I rode ten percent less than I did the first day.”
Did the pressure get to you a little in the Special when you dropped from first in the Grand Prix to third in the Special…
Daniel and Zepter in the Special
“Yeah, I went in there and thought, now I want to win again, I want to do even better than the Grand Prix and I put too much pressure on him, and when you do that with a horse like Zepter, the rider influence goes from positive to negative, and I couldn’t shift him back. I was really frustrated with myself because I wasn’t mentally in the right place because I wanted to win. That’s something I have to be better at. I’m better when I come in and I am not the favorite one. When I’m not the one who is supposed to win, then I am riding the best.”
As you rode the test today was there a point where you thought, oh, maybe I will win this one?
“No, I just felt good, this was good for the horse, this was clever riding.”
It’s such a tough arena to ride in…
“It is and he hasn’t been to so many shows, specially not at this level, it was his second Grand Prix, and without the whip, so I couldn’t support him with that, I had to trust him today.”