HGF’s Grandioso is Highest Scoring PRE in Aachen History07.30.2014
The newly renovated Deutsche Bank Stadium was the focus of the dressage world for the Nations Cup at CHIO Aachen 2014. Nine countries fielded teams consisting of their top riders in the 5* competition. With the exception of one or two pairs, the starting roster for the Grand Prix included the top 40 horses and riders in the world. One FEI official was quoted to say that this competition hosted the highest level of dressage sport in history (by scores).
Spain overcame the withdrawal of their fourth team member and the re-inspection of one of their horses to rise to the top of the field—taking the Bronze Medal for the Nations Cup based on strong scores by Jose Mena and PRE Norte (72.7), Morgan Barbancon and Painted Black (73.2) and Daniel Martin Dockx and Grandioso (74.6). Topped only by Germany and the Netherlands, the Spanish riders placed higher than teams from England, Denmark, Sweden, United States, Austria, and Belgium. It was a historic day for the Spanish, one in which all good things came together in one amazing moment.
For HGF’s Grandioso and Dani, it was another career high score in the Grand Prix Special, 73.7, a test that is not as familiar to the pair but which is becoming progressively more secure with every performance. They easily qualified for the Kur, which is traditionally televised nationally on Sunday afternoon of the CHIO.
Grandioso’s freestyle performance was energetic and brilliant, but not without errors. They scored 76.9 in a dead tie with America’s Laura Graves and Adrienne Lyle. Final placement of 12th overall, in a test in which the top 8 all scored over 80%, was the laurel for a weekend of intense pressure and world-class performance.
Over the four days of competition, the temperatures had risen to over 90 degrees, and this undoubtedly played a factor in the overall standings as evidenced in the shifting placements throughout the weekend. It was also a weekend highlighted by the comback of Totilas, the fallibility of Valegro, and the rise of Bella Rose, not to mention the dramas within each federation as riders vied for their names to be included in the upcoming announcements of WEG national teams.
But for us, the ultimate honor was when we realized, as the Spanish sporting news reported, that Grandioso and Dani now hold the record for the highest scoring PRE in Aachen history, in all three tests—the GP, GP Special, and the Kur. Unlike some of the great and more flashy pairs in PRE history, Dani and Grandioso have made a quiet progression, continuing to improve the strengths of their test, focused on a technical accuracy and fluidity that appear to be the reason behind the rising scores.
With the World Equestrian Games now in focus, Grandioso has returned to Spain for a few weeks of light work and rest, hoping to repeat a top performance in Normandy in August. All of us who are part of this horse’s support team are thrilled with what he has accomplished, and how his success gives credence to all the PREs that are on their way to High Performance. For us, and for the PRE world, the beautiful looming edifice of the Deutsche Bank stadium is not only the Cathedral of Dressage, but it is the place where the “glass ceiling” was shattered….once and for all. Following the Grand Prix on Thursday, the German news reported that PREs could no longer be considered a lesser breed for the sport—as two of them proved in the most high-profile show outside of a world championship that PREs were as or more competitive than all but a handful of the most elite horses of Northern Europe.
Grandioso's career continues to prove that breed, size and conformation are not dictated by the warmblood industry for success in the sport. A PRE with special gaits and a mind for the work, ridden by a sensitive and skillful rider, can rise to the top of any nation’s roster. This is the lesson from Aachen 2014.