Aachen sure knows how to put on a spectacular show
THE World Equestrian Festival at Aachen, Germany, does it so well.
So much to see, so much to do at an event where the best in the world gathers.
Pageantry, famous people, cheering audiences and fabulous competition in showjumping, dressage, driving, vaulting and eventing – and our Australian competitors doing us proud.
It’s brought sleepless nights for those of us on the other side of the world, with modern technology allowing us to watch in real time even if it made for weary faces during the day.
Andrew Hoy is no stranger to winning medals and neither is his chestnut eventing partner Vassily de Lassos.
Starting with the dressage, finishing in 16th place, the jumping machine moved up to ninth after showjumping and then the cross country phase gained the silver medal.
“He is just the most extraordinary horse,” Hoy said. “We have got the most wonderful partnership.
“He has only had a total of 10 seconds outside of the time since he started his international career in 2015.
“He came to me in 2017 and ever since then I have been the only person ever to sit on him. I have just always wanted to keep this partnership very special.
“He is a very special horse – he gives his absolute heart, but he gives it with passion. He doesn’t give it because he has to give it. It comes from him because he just loves what he does."
Hoy’s second medal was gold, as part of the fabulous “jump and drive” team competition.
He jumped a cross country round on the arena, followed by team mate Rodrigo Pessoa who did a showjumping round, then master carriage driver and world champion Boyd Exell sped flat strap around the arene with his four-horse team with Andrew clinging to the back of the vehicle.
It was worth staying up to the wee hours to see the two Aussies grinning at each other in the victory lap.
Exell, as is so often expected, won the main carriage driving competition, finishing with an overall score of 158.32, more than eight points ahead of second place.
Fellow Aussie Tor van den Berge is continuing to gain experience and finished in 20th position. He and Exell also competed in the Nations Cup competition, finishing in sixth place.
In para dressage, Emma Booth has been lucky enough to borrow Maree Tomkinson’s grand prix dressage horse and be trained by Tomkinson for the last two months.
Her mount, Furst Deluxe, is remarkable, changing himself from a bold moving dressage horse to a kind para mount, taking his rider to a super score of 73.245 per cent, and third place, in the Grade III division.
The rest of the para team scored well, with Tilda Carnegie riding Bocelli 6 in the Grade IV competition, scoring 66.750 per cent, and Amelia White riding her gelding Genius in the Grade V class, scoring 69.806 per cent.
The stand out in the dressage for Australia was Simone Pearce with her new mount, Fiderdance. The pair qualified for the freestyle competition following the grand prix and grand prix special.
They delivered an elegant performance in front of a crowded stadium to score 74.920 per cent.
"I didn’t expect to make the final in such an amazingly strong field," Pearce said.
The Australian dressage team performed well despite being reduced to three, after Warwick Mclean’s horse Hendrix failed the trot up and did not compete.
"I’m really proud of the team today,” Equestrian Australia’s high performance dressage manager, Brett Davey, said.
“It has been a great team to be involved with, and the team spirit among all disciplines has been very special.
"It’s an amazing achievement for Simone to make the Freestyle at a five-star show after only a matter of weeks riding the horse.
“Mary and Lyndal both have two horses qualified for Herning and it has been great to see them here. Overall, it has been a great preparation in the lead up to Herning to compete against the best in this atmosphere."
Maleah Lang McMahon represented Australia in the 2022 FEI Youth Equestrian Games, held as part of the festival, in showjumping on a borrowed horse. She rode well over two rounds to finish in 13th place in the individual final.
Maleah was also in a team with riders from Australia, New Zealand, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia that finished in fifth place on a total of eight penalties.
EA high performance jumping manager Todd Hinde was elected by all the Australasian Nations to act as Chef d’Equipe for the continental clash.
“It was a great experience for Team Australasia's five riders to compete at Aachen this year,” he said.
“I am super proud of all the riders for putting in a tremendous effort out there in that big stadium.”