Kemmer Throws Down the German Gauntlet
By Louise Parks for the FEI and Claartje van Andel dressagedirect
Germany's Heike Kemmer and Bonaparte threw down the gauntlet when producing a superb test to take the individual lead after the first session of the Dressage Team Grand Prix at Sha Tin on Wednesday night. And her dominant performance suggests that her nation's team record at Olympic Games - gold at every edition since 1964 except for Munich in 1972 – is unlikely to be broken in Hong Kong in 2008.
Heike Kemmer and Bonaparte threw down the German gauntlet with a convincing test Picture Ken Braddick www.horsesportusa.com/
As The Netherlands had drawn starting number 1, they already had two riders in the arena on the first day. Nor the very first to go Hans Peter Minderhoud, nor Imke Schellekens-Bartels rode a faultless test. They were not able to prove their superiority for the gold medal today. Hans Peter Minderhoud had the discomfort of being pathfinder in the arena. His test was not as good as it could have been and when leaving the arena Hans Peter felt why. His mare was very much in discomfort because she had to pee, which she to her great relieve did immediately when she had left the arena. “This is an explanation. However I also made a mistake in my counting in the canter zig zag when I did seven strides instead of six," he admitted, “which was stupid!”.
Imke Schellekens-Bartels had a severe mistake when Sunrise put her tongue over the bit before going into the zig zag. She said with some resignation in her voice after completing her test with Sunrise, "I'm afraid there has been decided something yet. We wanted to beat the Germans but today we have seen that this is going to be a very tough job. Anky can do a lot, if not all. However the way I feel now we will be lucky to get a medal at all, I am afraid…"
Nice movements but one time the tongue over the bit for Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Sunrise Picture Ken Braddick www.horsesportusa.com/
Heike Kemmer ensured the German team is already in the driving seat. From the moment she entered the ring tonight she and her handsome 15-year old gelding Bonaparte took command. Heike knows Bonaparte so well that, from the moment he first halted, she felt a good test was on the way. "I always take my time for the first halt. And if ‘Bonnie’ takes a deep breath after the halt and then lets it out again I know it is going to be good.” Heike Kemmer and Bonaparte showed much more relaxation than in Aachen. This time one of the judges even gave a 10 for the extended walk.”
Another great test was produced by America's Courtney King. Mythilus had not been well since arriving in Hong Kong but by today he had bounced back to himself. Courtney didn’t believe her points were that good, until she noticed they it was not bad at all considering the others. "Mythi has had some down days since he got here. I was behind in my training. He can do much better but today I couldn't have asked for more," she said. She admitted that her own objective had been not to shy in the company of world class riders like Kyra, Anky and Isabell. "I have ridden in two World Cup finals now. When I entered the preparing area’s there I just was anxious not to be in the way of stars like Kyra and Anky. I had to get that out of my system. I succeeded. Now I am happy that competing in the Olympic Games makes me not nervous any more.”
A great test was produced by America's Courtney King aboard Mythilus Picture Ken Braddick www.horsesportusa.com/
Great Britain's Emma Hindle produced a sparkling ride with Lancet to slot into second place individually on a mark of 71.125. Hindle didn’t agree with the words of Schellekens-Bartels that the cards were already given. She believes the new format which allows for only three team-members per nation and no drop score could prove influential until the end. "If one horse from any team makes a big mistake then it is going to be wide open immediately," she insisted after producing the best performance of her career.
The second half of the riders, including Finland's Kyra Kyrklund, Germany's Isabell Werth and Nadine Capellman, America's Debbie McDonald and Steffen Peters and The Netherlands' Anky van Grunsven have still to take their turn tomorrow. Than the team medals 2008 finally have decided. For the individual medals there also is a reglement change. The 25 best start with straight scores again to ride the Grand Prix Special. The 15 best enter the Freestyle, which result will be added to the Special’s to make the medals.
More information on en.beijing2008.cn/ and www.fei.org/olympics/Pages/default.aspx
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