By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
STUTTGART, Germany, Nov. 17–Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW, Germany’s top finishing partnership at the summer Olympics, raised their competition riding another level to capture the German Masters World Cup Freestyle Saturday with the highest ever score for the pair internationally, 86.775 per cent.
London team mates Kristina Sprehe and Desperados placed second with 82.275 per cent while Italy’s Valentina Truppa and Eremo del Castegna placed third on 80.600 per cent and the 15 points they earned Saturday were enough to move them to the top of the Western European League standings with a total of 52 points.
Denmark’s Sidsel Johanesen and Schianto provided one of the highlights of the competition with a frothy, fun freestyle that won the hearts of the sellout crowd of 8,000 spectators with a standing ovation that turned to loud booing for the panel of five judges that awarded them 77.100 per cent for sixth place.
This was the third of eight Reem Acra FEI World Cup events in the Western European League that will lead to the Final in Gothenberg, Sweden, April 24-28. The calendar was cut back this year
The World Cup is the only annual global championship in dressage and comprises four leagues–Central European, North American and Pacific in addition to WEL. Central Europe is completed while only the league final early next month remains in the Pacific League. Six of the 11 events remaining in North America will be staged in California and Florida January through March.
Stuttgart is probably the premier German indoor competition with World Cup events in jumping and driving as well as dressage and national competitions for indoor eventing and vaulting. Competiions typically start at at 8 or 9 a.m. and on three of the five nights do not finish until midnight.
The crowd gave thunderous applause to Helen and the 12-year-old Westfalen stallion (Donnerhall x Romanze x Rubinstein I) in their first performance leading Germany’s team to the silver medal and placing fourth in the Freestyle that left them out of the medals ceremony.
Raphael Saleh of France, one of the judges, awarded Helen and Damon Hill 9.7 per cent for the artistic side of their performance.
“Each ride is like a wonder to me,” Helen said after explaining that her new freestyle was meant to be a complete composition leading to a finale and not pieces of music choreographed for individual movements.
“To me it feels perfect and then I think that next time it can be even more perfect.
“I had a great feeling today. First, I want to be happy about the result, and then we will see what we can make better.”
She plans to campaign for a place at the World Cup Final by competing at Amsterdam in January and Neumünster in Germany in February.
Kristina is shy but popular and has won legions of fans for her lowkey statements, especially in light of the fact that just over a year ago she was competing and winning in the Under-25 Division on Desperados and has made the leap to the top of the sport with seeming ease with the coaching of Jürgen Koschel.
What is remarkable about the duo of Helen and Damon Hill and Kristina and Desperados is that their perfomances at the Olympics and their embrace by European fans has totally overshadowed the ongoing saga of Totilas, the superstar stallion. Matthias Alexander Rath, the stepson of Ann Kathrin-Linsenhoff who is an owner of the horse along with Performance Sales Internationa’s Paul Schockemöhle, took over the ride from Edward Gal when the hrse was sold to Germany two years ago.
Matthias reported he had mononucleosis and could not ride Totilas for Germany at the Olympics, but that did not quell rampant rumors the horse was injured. Since then, Matthias has switched to training with former Dutch national coach Sjef Janssen instead of his father, Klaus Martin Rath.
Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill were reserve champions at the 2012 World Cup Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands behind two-time titleist Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival.
German Olympic combination Anabel Balkenhol and Dablino FRH won the CDI4* Grand Prix for the Special earlier in the day with a score of 75.702 per cent.
Austria’s Victoria Max-Theurer and Blind Date 25, fresh off a double victory in Oldenburg last week, were second on 72.128 per cent with Dorothee Schneider of Germany with Forward Looking third on 71.468 per cent.