With the Aachen CHIO underway in Germany, the eyes of the dressage world will be trained on many of the top combinations in the world, fighting it out in the four-star competition and the five-star Nations Cup. With team line-ups due to be announced shortly for next month’s European Championships, fabulous dressage is sure to be in abundance at Aachen, and we’ve picked out seven pairs to keep an eye on in particular.
1. Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy (DEN)
Denmark suffered a blow last year when the nation’s top combination, double European bronze medallists Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy had to pull out of the World Equestrian Games due to lameness. Cathrine has given her long-term partner many months to recover and build back up to fitness, and they have only competed once internationally since the 2018 Aachen CHIO, where Cathrine was crowned Aachen grand champion with the highest overall score after the three tests. Now the 16-year-old Caprimond gelding is back on top form, he’s sure to put in an impressive performance in the CDI4* at Aachen.
2. Lottie Fry – Dark Legend (GBR)
In just her first full year campaigning senior big tour, Britain’s Lottie Fry has already set tongues wagging all over Europe. If she and the 11-year-old Zucchero gelding can recreate here the chunky scores they achieved at last month’s Nations Cup leg in Geesteren, she could well be looking at a berth on Britain’s European Championship team this August, just one year after becoming under-25 European champion in 2018.
3. Isabell Werth – Bella Rose (GER)
The global queen of dressage spearheads the home attack once again, and will ride none other than her reigning world champion Bella Rose. The 15-year-old Belissimo M mare has had an easy time since WEG last year, making her first appearance of 2019 at Fritzens in June, and busting out two plus-80% scores there. They will be the easy favourites for victory here, and will be looking to continue their stellar record — the mare has not been beaten since her 2018 comeback following almost four years out.
4. Charlotte Dujardin – Erlentanz (GBR)
Britain’s golden girl has had a mixed relationship with Aachen – it was here that she and Valegro suffered disappointment with a sixth place finish at the CHIO 2014 — their lowest score and placing in five years — and she has not returned to compete at this show since. This year however, she will make her return with Sonnar Murray-Brown’s Erlentanz, the 12-year-old Trakehner she has had much success on since temporarily taking over the ride at the beginning of this year. The Aachen atmosphere will be more than the Latimer gelding has experienced to date, but they could well cause a stir at the sharp end.
5. Heike Holstein – Sambuca (IRL)
It’s been almost 15 years since Heike last represented Ireland at a major championship — specifically at the 2005 European Championships. But after a lengthy hiatus from top level dressage, Heike is back with a vengeance, having had a busy and successful season with her 10-year-old mare Sambuca. She will help make history this week, as part of the first Irish team to contest the Aachen Nations Cup, riding alongside Judy Reynolds and Anna Merveldt.
6. Anna-Christina Abbelen – Henny Hennessy (GER)
Competing at Aachen can be awe-inducing and nerve-racking even for the most experienced riders. But this is an especially huge occasion for 22-year-old Anna-Christina – it is her first senior international. Anna has been successful in under-25 grand prix ranks with the 16-year-old Henny Hennessy, but Aachen marks a big step in her career; she will compete in the CDI4*, which begins today.
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7. Juan Matute Guimon – Quantico (ESP)
Spain’s rising star of dressage, Juan is the son of three-time dressage Olympian Juan Matute Sr and is already following in his footsteps at just 21 years old. He has already add a WEG appearance to his CV, and he will ride his Tryon team horse Quantico in the Nations Cup here — the combination’s first international showing of 2019.
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