Enthusiastic dressage fans from all around the world, even Lithuania, gathered in the CHI Health Center Omaha. They were there to watch 16 riders compete in the first round of the FEI Dressage World CupTM Final presented by Havensafe Farm. The competition was making its return to the United States for the first time since 2017 when it was in Omaha as well.
The field was divided into two groups of eight with a break scheduled between them. Starting places were chosen randomly the night before when Dinja van Liere (NED) drew names that matched up with numbers drawn by Steffen Peters (USA).
Unfortunately, the competition would not happen for van Liere. Hermes N.O.P. was a late scratch from the competition. No confirmed details were available. It was disappointing, but hopefully the horse will be fine.
The Defending World CupTM Champion
The second group consisted of some of the world’s best riders. First to go in the randomly selected order was the defending champion Jessica von Bredow-Wendl (GER) and TSF Dalera BB, owned by Beatrice A. Buerchier-Keller.
Von Bredow-Wendl gave the mare several pats before heading down centerline. “She actually gave her best, but she was too excited today,” von Bredow-Wendl said. “That’s why the mistakes happened, and the mistakes cost a lot of points and that’s a shame.”
The initial halt was the first mistake when Dalera hollowed and stepped back. The second happened in the walk. “That was super expensive,” she said. “She (Dalera) couldn’t wait. And that cost too many points.”
Despite the bobbles, the two of them presented an elegant and professional pair with lovely harmony. Although von Bredow-Wendl saying that the mare had too much energy, she was very light on her feet. They nearly broke the 80 percent barrier with a 79.922 percent and the win.
The German Legend
Isabell Werth (GER) and DSP Quantaz, a German Sport Horse gelding owned by Madeleine Winter-Schulze and Victoria Max-Theurer, were certainly a threat to take over the lead. Despite, at times, being a difficult ride during the familiarization (Werth called the gelding “strong-minded”), this consummate competitor is never counted out.
Despite the 13-year-old gelding snorting numerous times throughout the ride, the pair completed a clean, composed test, and Werth was “very happy” with her horse’s performance. “He was more focused and with me,” Werth said. Their final score was 77.485 percent for second place.
Strong Third Place Finish
Nanna Skodborg Merrald (DEN) and Blue Horse Zepter, a 15-year-old Oldenberg gelding owned by Blue Horse Aps, also had a solid test. “He felt really, really nice and supple,” she said. “I’ve tried to go for a little more power than I have in the last few competitions.” Unfortunately, as a result they “had some expensive mistakes.” This included a mistake in the two tempi changes. Otherwise, however, the big chestnut gelding performed very well. They scored 76.165 percent to finish third.
The lone male competitor in the field, and the oldest rider at 59, was the USA’s Steffen Peters who was aboard the 18.2 hand gelding Suppenkasper, owned by Aikiko Yamazaki and Four Winds Farm. In typical style, the experienced team executed a solid, mistake free performance.
“Mopsie stayed super calm and then had a really powerful test,” Peters said following the ride. He was pleased with “a relaxed test for the walk, the halt and the rein back and that is, with him, such a very, very fine balance. And all of that worked great.” He did comment that the right canter pirouette was large, but that it was “not perfectly in the rider’s control.”
“[The atomosphere] was just special because the second I got done, I saw some people standing up, and I had both of my arms up in the air, too…A wonderful feeling and something that you can never really describe. And after 50 years of doing this sport, it still gets me super excited.” They scored a 74.581 percent for fifth on the day and the highest scoring American.
First to Go
Thamar Zweistra (NED) had the unenviable position of going first. She and the 10-year-old handsome dapple-grey stallion Hexagon’s Ich Weiss, owned by Stal Hexagon B.V., had a solid, mistake free test to finish with a 73.261 percent. It set the bar for those that followed and held up well as she finished sixth overall.
American’s First World CupTM
The USA’s Alice Tarjan and her 10-year-old mare Serenade MF were seventh to go in the first group. Serenade is an elegant, feminine mare, and the only horse in the competition bred in the United States. They had an unfortunate stop in the first piaffe. “We had obviously serious miscommunication in the first piaffe,” Tarjan said. “But it was really honest on her part, so if that’s what it is, if that’s what happens, that’s okay.”
They recovered well, and despite a bobble in the walk, the rest of their test was mistake free. “Overall, the quality is getting better,” she said. “We obviously have a lot more training to do in the process. The horse is young, but I’m really pleased with her.” They finished with a 67.065 percent.
Final U.S. Rider
Following Tarjan, and last to go before the drag break, was fellow American, AnnA Buffini and her 16-year-old Hanoverian mare FRH Davinia la Douce.
When asked about competing in Omaha, Buffini said that “I’ve never experienced that before. I’m always in Germany or Holland, and they’re always cheering for Isabell [Werth] and Ingrid [Klimke] and the fact that they’re cheering that loud for us, it’s crazy. I’m like, ‘People know who I am.’ So, I was thrilled.”
They completed a clean test, but it seemed to lack a little energy at times. Still, Buffini was pleased with her ride, especially the canter tour. “I’m so happy because that’s what we’ve struggled with all the time. And just the fact that every test this year she’s had solid canter work is just like, I’m so grateful for all my trainer’s work.
“But overall, usually our harmony is my favorite part,” she admitted. “It’s our highlight because she’s not the biggest moving horse out there, but if you can have harmony, I think that speaks volumes to your training.” With a final score of 70.047 percent, she finished ninth overall.
Stay Informed on the FEI Dressage World CupTM Final
View the full results here.
The competition concludes Friday night at 6:15pm CDT with the popular FEI Dressage World CupTM Final – Grand Prix Freestyle presented by Havensafe Farm. Find the order of go here.
Thanks to Vita Flex for sponsoring our coverage of the FEI Dressage World CupTM Final presented by Havensafe Farm.