Carina Cassøe Krüth and the fabulous mare Heiline’s Danciera posted their second victory of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2022/2023 Western European League season in Gothenburg, Sweden on Saturday.
The dynamic duo who helped clinch team gold for Denmark on home soil at last summer’s ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning kicked off with top spot at the opening round in Aarhus, Vilhelmsborg last October where Danish riders were completely dominant. Their winning score that day was 85.925, and all five judges were in full agreement when putting them top of the class.
Saturday it was just the same but their score was even higher, a lovely performance earning them a mark of 86.855 to leave them well ahead of Germany’s Isabell Werth and DSP Qantaz in second and compatriots Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Blue Hors Zack in third.
“I’m so very, very pleased with Danciera, she was super again today – she just seems to get better and better,” Cassøe Krüth said this evening.
Just 10 horse-and-rider combinations lined out in this penultimate round of the 11-leg series, and it was Sweden’s Johanna Due Boje who was leading the way at the halfway break after a really fun ride on the 15-year-old Mazy Klovenhoj who danced in perfect harmony to their Irish-themed musical score.
“Today I felt I had this perfect balance of good tension and excitement and that she was with me all the way”, said the 33-year-old athlete who runs a small family farm with just nine horses in the south of Sweden. Her score of 74.760 was blown away when Skodborg Merrald and Blue Hors Zack rocketed into the lead with a mark of 81.385 when fourth-last to go however.
Zack belied his 19 years with some lovely work, although mistakes hampered his score potential. Skodborg Merrald blamed herself for them.
“We had much better piaffe than yesterday but there were huge expensive mistakes. He cantered in the half-pass, and there were also mistakes in the two-tempis, but he was great and I’m happy! It wasn’t the atmosphere in the arena, it was because I wasn’t sharp enough,” said the rider who, with this great stallion, was also on that historic Danish winning side last summer.
Those mistakes left her vulnerable and, next into the ring, she was quickly demoted to runner-up spot by five-time FEI Dressage World Cup™ champion Werth who, however, also encountered a few blips along the way to putting 82.775 on the board.
“We are not in the same shape as we were in Basel (SUI, at round 7 last month), there were a few things I have to sort out and I was so stupid with the last one-tempis because I really disturbed his rhythm – I don’t know why but it was completely my fault,” insisted the lady whose name has long been synonymous with this sport. “The rest was good but you could feel he was on fire in the last piaffe although he was really trying. I really enjoyed it but I have some fine tuning to do before the Final,” she pointed out.
And then came Cassøe Krüth with her super mare and her boyband music. From the moment they set off the pair looked relaxed, confident and completely in control. Yesterday they topped the Grand Prix line-up with a personal-best score of 78.217, and the Danish star said she was “pretty sure” Saturday’s 86.855 was a Freestyle personal-best too.
The 12-year-old mare’s cool attitude under fire is one of her real strengths. “She just takes it all in, there was a lot of noise when we were coming in because Isabell’s score was being announced but she didn’t mind the excitement at all,” Cassøe Krüth pointed out. Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg and Annabelle 110 were last to go, and putting 80.540 on the board they slotted into fourth ahead of Due Boje.
Saturday’s result leaves Cassøe Krüth on the brink of qualification for the much-anticipated FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2023 Final which will take place in Omaha, USA in early April. But, despite the temptation, the Danish rider has decided she won’t go.
“It’s not in my plan so we need to stick to the plans we make and not try to do everything,” she said. “The mare is progressing all the time and I’m so happy with her so I’m a bit sad I’m not going to Omaha, but that’s how it is sometimes. I only have one horse, so I have to take care of her so we have her for many years,” she added.
In Her Sights
Werth however has Omaha clearly in her sights. She plans to do the last Western European League qualifier at s’Hertogenbosch (NED) with Emilio in two weeks’ time.
“First I planned to bring him here and then go with Qantaz to Den Bosch but then I changed the plan because I thought it would be better to have more space between the last competition and the flight to Omaha. I plan to go with Qantaz to Omaha so now he will get a rest for a few weeks and then we will prepare, and I will learn from my mistakes to do better next time,” she said this evening.
With wins in Lyon (FRA) and Basel (SUI), the longtime legend in the sport continues to head the Western European League table.
She loves Gothenburg Horse Show where she has competed many times and where she won one of her three-in-a-row titles with the great mare Weihegold FRH in 2019. She was full of praise for the inclusion of pony competitions in the show programme again this year. “All countries should learn from this, they have a really great basic pony sport in Sweden and it’s super for the kids and they are the future – when they have a positive feeling about our sport they can help to get involved and grow it, and that is what we need right now,” she pointed out.
Run of Form
Meanwhile Skodborg Merrald, who has enjoyed a great run of form this winter season including victory at last weekend’s FEI Dressage World Cup™ leg in Neumunster, Germany, had to settle for third Saturday but, ahead of the Final is feeling pleased, and it’s no wonder..…
“I’m very proud and happy to now have three horses qualified – Blue Hors Zepter, Blue Hors Zack and Blue Hors St. Schufro,” she said this evening. Lying third on the Western European League table she is in a very comfortable situation. But with one final throw of the dice there is still a chance for others to make the cut, so all eyes now turn to ’s-Hertogenbosch on 11 March.