Sönke Rothenberger & Cosmo Dominate Aachen CDI4* Grand Prix Special

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Sönke Rothenberger and Cosmo were the epitome of harmony and confidence on their way to winning the CDI4* Grand Prix Special. © 2019 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com


AACHEN, Germany, July 19, 2019–The only real dressage event taking place at the Aachen CHIO Friday (sorry to those fans of eventing dressage which occupied the dressage stadium most of the day) was the CDI4* Grand Prix Special. The reality is that this class is held in the evening, and is generally pretty hard to get excited about when compared to the CDIO5* Nations Cup. The usual protocol is roll our eyes, decide that since we are here, we best guess the winner, get a photo during predicted winning ride and put up the results with said photo. This could not be further from the truth this year. The final six rides of the class were all from top riders and horses, including Sönke Rothenberger, Isabell Werth, Dorothee Schneider and Adrienne Lyle and the stadium was literally packed full with spectators.

The first of the power riders is Dorothee Schneider on Sammy Davis Jr. The trot tour is beautiful. Dorothee is such a quiet rider, and so tactful on this hot gelding by San Remo. Unfortunately the canter is just so tight. He does everything correctly but just lacks length of stride and power. Nevertheless, it is always fun to watch Dorothee coax the most out of her horses. 73.83%<.

Isabell Werth and Emilio are a powerhouse combination ranked No. 6 in the world, and the crowd always appreciates the chance to watch Isabell ride. For me, this is not my favorite horse of hers. Emilio hits the ground so hard in the canter we literally hear every stride. He makes uncharacteristic mistakes in the two-tempis and Isabell even shakes her head on the short side, definitely something you rarely see. The one-tempis are also less than perfect. This proved to be a theme throughout the entire class with many one-tempis going missing. I guess the judges thought Emilio’s trot and piaffe/passage tour was good enough to hold the score at 76.681% and second place. Tonight I cannot agree.

Isabell Werth and Emilio. © 2019 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

Honestly, if there had only been Sönke Rothenberger and Cosmo performing Friday night it would have been worth watching. These two were in a class of their own, and for me, was the best test of the show so far. It will be interesting to see if any of the rides in the CDIO5* Grand Prix Special Saturday can change my mind.

Cosmo enters the stadium and from the first moment just looks so happy to be here with his rider. He has the most wonderful expression on his face throughout the entire test. For me it has everything–harmony, accuracy, expression and confidence with not a single mistake. The whole test is beautifully light-footed; you simply don’t hear him touch the ground. If I was being really picky, and I probably shouldn’t be but I just can’t help myself: I wish I couldn’t see the adjustments Sönke makes almost every stride in the canter. They are in rhythm and small. But I can see them through Cosmo’s neck. Having said that, it deserved every bit of 82.213% and Cosmo leaves looking like the happiest horse on earth. I suspect Sönke has the same feeling.

Sönke Rothenberger and Cosmo. © 2019 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
I am not sure I would want to be Adrienne Lyle entering the stadium on the rather inexperienced Harmony’s Duval right as the score for Cosmo is announced. The crowd goes beserk  as Cosmo leaves the arena but neither Harmony’s Duval nor Adrienne miss a beat and they continue calmly around the arena until the bell to enter rings.
There is no doubt that this is a combination to watch for the future. Adrienne is giving her horse a beautiful, soft, confidence-creating ride. With the exception of a mistake in the one-tempis, the test is clean and steady. I suspect we will soon see Adrienne ask for more expression and more power but even as it is now, the judges clearly see the quality and they score 74.234% for fourth place. I thought it could have been higher.
Adrienne Lyle and Harmony’s Duval. © 2019 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Last to go is Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Zaire-E. After the cadenced tempo of the previous two horses, I must admit this combination looked a little like a wind-up toy that was starting a bit over-tempo. As if perhaps they had somewhere else they needed to get to… in a hurry. They settled down after the trot half-passes and produced accurate, elegant quality work. This combination also missed some one-tempis but it was absolutely good enough for 76.192% and third place.
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Zaire-E. © 2019 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com


CDI4* Grand Prix Special

Rank Nr. Rider


1 314
Sönke Rothenberger
5600 82.213
2 325
Isabell Werth
3500 76.681
3 368
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl
2600 76.191
4 340
Adrienne Lyle
1800 74.234
5 323
Dorothee Schneider
1200 73.830
6 327
Hubertus Schmidt
800 73.191
7 330
Charlotte Fry
700 72.979
8 315
Benjamin Werndl
600 71.830
9 369
Tristan Tucker
400 66.915
10 341
Anna-Christina Abbelen
300 66.787