Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl stole the show at Gothenburg in Sweden on Saturday night when producing a superb victory in the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Western European League 2013/2014 qualifier with Unee BB.
“I didn’t expect it!” said the 28-year-old whose winter season has been nothing short of spectacular. “This is my very first World Cup season, I had never done a World Cup competition before, but we have been steadily improving and I am so proud of Unee!” she said out after pinning Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Toy Story into second and Denmark’s Nanna Skodberg Merrald and Millibar into third.
A total of 13 horse-and-rider combinations started at this penultimate qualifying round for competitors in the Western European League region, and for many it has come to “make or break” time.
In a line-up of riders from seven nations, the host country fielded six horse-and-rider combinations and it was Sweden’s Sofie Lexner and the veteran 18-year-old Charming Boy who set the early standard when posting a score of 74.500. This left her out in front until The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud scored 77.400 with his relatively new ride, the 12-year-old bay stallion, Johnson, but that was immediately overtaken by Patrik Kittel whose steady and precise performance with Toy Story featured fluid transitions, solid piaffe and rhythmic tempi changes for a mark of 79.025.
This was now the score to beat, and Skodberg Merrald came close when awarded 77.950 with Millibar who has emerged as a real contender this season. But, last to go, it was von Bredow-Werndl who pinned Kittel into runner-up spot with a beautifully executed and demanding floorplan that demonstrated flair, control, athleticism and accuracy, and more than a little daring. The German rider’s performance gave her a well-deserved mark of 81.350, with strong artistic marks awarded by the Ground Jury.
Swedish Ground Jury member Gustav Svalling commented afterwards, “Jessica’s horse is absolutely fantastic and is capable of doing so much, and it is such a good looking horse as well!”
Today’s winner, who also topped Friday’s Grand Prix, has a long holiday planned for her handsome 13-year-old stallion after a long and busy winter campaign. Reflecting on the last six months, she said “this season just fell into place. We started by finishing eighth in Odense (DEN), then we were seventh in Stuttgart (GER), sixth in Stockholm (SWE) and sixth in Amsterdam (NED) and at Neumunster (GER) we moved right up to third. Now today we have our first win!” she said.
Unee BB’s natural poise and elegance really shone through.
Coming from a family background steeped in the sporting tradition she clearly understands the benefit and necessity of training and dedication to make it to the top. “I train every day with my brother, Benjamin, and when I am at shows our coach, Jonny Hilberath, is with me. He came here to Gothenburg – we have been working together for the last three years,” she explained.
Asked if her rapid improvement might present a challenge to defending champion , and fellow German, Helen Langehanenberg, von Bredow-Wrendl laughed and said – “No, there is not really much chance of that! But Helen is a great friend of mine and she has texted me already to congratulate me on my win!”
As the qualifying leagues draw to a close the pressure is reaching boiling point. The top end of the Western European League leaderboard reads like a “who’s who” of the sport right now with von Bredow-Werndl moving into third place behind fellow-German Isabell Werth in second and Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven at the head of affairs. Denmark’s Anna Kaskprzak lies fourth ahead of The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud in fifth and Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald in joint-fifth place.
It is down to the wire for those attempting to make the cut to the Reem Acra FEI World Cup 2014 Final, and they have one last chance at ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in three weeks’ time.
1, Unee BB (Jessica von Bredow-Werndl) GER 81.350; 2, Toy Story (Patrik Kittel) SWE 79.025; 3, Milibar (Nanna Skodborg Merrald) DEN 77.950; 4, Johnson (Hans Peter Minderhoud) NED 77.400; 5, Charming Boy (Sofie Lexner) SWE 74.500; 6, Fernandez (Cathrine Rasmussen) NOR 74.000; 7, Biggles (Kristian van Krustenstierna) SWE 72.250; 8, Di Lapponia T (Paulinda Friberg) SWE 71.400; 9, Romeo Star (Elena Sidneva) RUS 71.375; 10, Ten Points (Juliette Ramel) SWE 70.375; 11, Goerklintgaards Fanero (Lena Leschly Aamann) DEN 68.775; 12, Ekwador (Marc Peter Spahn) BEL 68.600, 13, Paridon Magi (Caroline Darcourt) SWE 68.275.
Western European League Standings after Round 7:
1. Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven SWE – 74
2. Isabell Werth GER – 63
3. Jessica von Bredow-Werndl GER – 60
4. Anna Kasprzak DEN – 55
5. Hans Peter Minderhoud NED – 52
5. Nanna Skodborg Merrald DEN – 52
7. Edward Gal NED – 51
8. Fabienne Lutkemeier GER – 48
9. Marcela Krinke Susmelj SUI – 46
10. Charlotte Dujardin GBR – 40
11. Patrick van der Meer NED – 27
11. Terhi Stegars FIN – 27
13. Danielle Heijjkoop NED – 25
14. Kristian Krusenstierna SWE – 23
14. Matthias Kempkes GER – 23