German riders simply swamped the opposition on home ground at the third leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2022/2023 Western European League in Stuttgart today led by horsewoman extraordinaire, Ingrid Klimke.
The daughter of Dressage legend Reiner Klimke is best known as a five-time Olympian and multiple championship medallist in the sport of Eventing. But the 54-year-old athlete who competes in all three equestrian Olympic disciplines demonstrated her exceptional talent when pinning her compatriot and five-time FEI Dressage World Cup™ champion, Isabell Werth, into second place while the remainder of the German contingent lined up behind them.
Having dominated in yesterday’s Grand Prix, the last five starters in today’s Freestyle were all from the host nation and Frederic Wandres went into the lead when putting 81.580 on the board with a lovely performance from the 12-year-old Bluetooth OLD when fifth-last to go. But Klimke immediately demoted him when next in with the fabulous Franziskus FRH.
The 14-year-old stallion was on fire from the outset, his entrance already racking up big scores, and the pair who competed on Germany’s bronze-medal-winning team at this summer’s ECCO FEI World Championships at Herning in Denmark put 83.440 on the board to go way out in front.
“Franziskus is 14 years old now but is still improving. Since Herning he seems to be enjoying himself even more and making more progress. He was so calm and listening to me today and his two-tempi changes on the centreline were amazing as well as the last piaffe on the turn and the extended trot at the very end”, Klimke said.
That extended trot was executed with just one hand on the reins and the crowd loved every moment of it. “I’m so happy and the spectators were fantastic! They were cheering like we won before we even went in!”, she said with a laugh afterwards.
She was followed by Tokyo 2020 team gold medallist Dorothee Schneider riding the 14-year-old gelding Faustus who put 80.290 on the board, and then compatriot Benjamin Werndl partnering Daily Mirror whose minor error in the two-tempis was followed by wonderful one-tempi changes for the second-best score to date of 81.885.
But the crowd were in a frenzy of excitement as the last pair took their turn. Isabell Werth is such a showgirl and is adored by dressage fans wherever she goes. At home that adoration reaches a whole new level, and the atmosphere in the packed Stuttgart stadium as she began her test with DSP Quantaz was electrifying.
To the sound of Bonnie Tyler the 53-year-old superstar threw down a great performance despite a blip in a canter pirouette and the two-tempi changes. The tension as her score was being calculated was palpable, and although 82.030 would leave her behind Klimke in pole position she was quite happy.
“My horse was electric tonight but was still very much focused and gave his best. The music makes me happy and I think it works for the public as well. Ingrid rode a beautiful mistake-free test tonight and I did not. This makes the difference and I am not disappointed at all. I should have ridden better with no mistakes to win. This is the sport”, said the lady who looks well set to chase down her sixth title at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final in Omaha (USA) next April and who has qualifying legs in Basel (SUI) and Amsterdam (NED) in January in her sights.
The top nine finishers in the Western European League will make the cut to the 2023 Final.
Delighted with her result, Klimke said this evening, “I drove here with no expectations, I would have been happy being fifth!” With additional points for a win at the qualifier in Zakrzow in Poland two weeks ago she has now rocketed up to second place on the Western European League leaderboard, just ahead of Werth who is just three points behind in third but 10 points adrift of Benjamin Werndl at the head of affairs.
Klimke now plans to compete at the qualifying legs in London (GBR) in December and then Amsterdam (NED), Neumunster (GER) and possibly ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in the new year.
Asked how tonight’s victory compares to the many successes she has enjoyed in the sport of Eventing she said “of course if you win at Aachen (GER) or Luhmuehlen (GER) it’s also very, very exciting. I finished fifth in Burghley (GBR) and have done lots of other wonderful things but competing indoors is different and I like it a lot. When I was younger I watched my father doing it and tonight brought memories of him back for me. This was very special night…..”, she said.
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