US trumping Germany on home soil in Aachen Nations Cup

The USA’s Laura Graves made her World Equestrian Games (WEG) medal intentions clear on day one of the Nations Cup dressage at CHIO Aachen, with an 80.6% grand prix win aboard Verdades.

At their first show since finishing second in April’s World Cup final in Paris, Laura and “Diddy” pulled out a punchy, powerful test. Their score sheet was full of eights; the 16-year-old gelding by Florett AS does not really have a weakness, and looks set to challenge for gold in Tryon this September.

We’re using this as a stepping stone for Tryon,” Laura said. “When you get a horse to this point they know the job and it becomes about those half-point marks. We took small details away from Paris to work on, and I’m so pleased with him today.”

Laura’s marks boosted the USA to the top of the Nations Cup team leaderboard at the halfway stage, with Germany sitting in an unfamiliar second after Isabell Werth posted an uncharacteristic drop score of 72.52%. Her 12-year-old Emilio 107 was not onside, with several moments of resistance causing their score to plummet.

Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour took second with Atterupgaards Cassidy, her double individual bronze medallist at the 2017 European Championships. Despite a costly spook going into their second passage, the pair posted 78.49% to put Denmark in third at this stage.

“I don’t really know what happened — the spook cost us marks, but today was the first time going in there that Cassidy really coped with the atmosphere,” said Cathrine.

Just four weeks after giving birth to her second daughter, Helen Langehanenberg was the best of the home team, scoring 77.03% to stand third with the 16-year-old stallion Damsey FRH.

Britain’s two individual riders both gave good accounts of themselves. Emile Faurie finished 13th with the 14-yar-old De Niro son Delatio (above), and their 73.12% would have been higher had it not been for a mistake in the otherwise lovely one-time changes.

The eye-catching black stallion had not competed since February due to injury.

“We could have given him another couple of months off but we decided to come here as he’s qualified for WEG,” Emile told H&H. “I’m thrilled with him today. He just needs a bit more oomph; towards the end he was feeling the heat a bit.”

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Lara Butler was delighted with her mistake-free test on Rubin Al Asad, at the pair’s Aachen CHIO debut. The 16-year-old Rubin Royal gelding produced his best performance of 2018 so far, earning 72.64%.

“He was super – apparently he just needs a really big occasion!” laughed Lara. “His twos felt super, his passage felt really good — he is probably going the best he ever has at the moment.

All the riders go forward to the next stage of the competition, the grand prix special on Saturday morning.

Don’t miss the full report from Aachen in next week’s H&H, on sale on 26 July.