May 4, 2002, Leipzig, Germany – Thirty-eight horses that did not make the cut for the final on Sunday and some others who qualified during the week competed Saturday in the 75,000 Euro Grand Prix of Leipzig. Seven were clear over a tricky course which had a combination off the corner immediately past the in gate -a distraction that course designer Frank Rothenberger has used with great effect in every competition. The winner was Rolf-Goeran Bengtsson of Sweden on his 8-year-old mare Gold du Talus( by Olisco) who was competing in her first major class.
Unfortunately, none of the six American riders in the competition had any luck. Richard Spooner’s Robinson and Ray Texel’s Fleur continued to perform under par as did Chris Kappler’s Ursa Major. Vanessa Haas had a better day but still not as good as she would have liked. Margie Goldstein Engle on Hidden Creek’s Jones and McLain Ward on his second horse Rio ( a son of Rio Grande) both were nearly there but the slightest touch on the very light poles (resting in flat cups) ruined their chances. For McLain, it was at 11 A, the first part of that combination going away from the in gate that I mentioned.
Those qualified for tomorrow’s final are looking forward to the competition. Leslie Howard told me that Priobert de Kalvarie might have strained his back when he jumped so big in the first combination as she really had to ride him harder than usual over the rest of the course. “He has won four grand prix in Europe since November so we were really prepared for this,” she said.
Ward, too, is determined and focussed on the task. It will be an amazing competition with Ward and defending champion Markus Fuchs leading the charge against five Germans.
The walking tour of Leipzig I took this morning was wonderful. Leipzig was not completely bombed during the war so some old structures remain, such as the church of Saint Nicholas, founded in 1165. Originally a catholic church, it has served protestant worshippers since 1539 when Martin Luther and the reformation swept this part of Germany.
Leipzig was also the home of the great composer Hans Sebastian Bach (who by the way had some 20 children in addition to producing all that wonderful music!!) as well as other noted composers such as Felix Mendelssohn.
Leipzig was a great centre of trade fairs, commerce and the arts and it is now beginning the long road to the return of its former glory.
For results from Leipzig, go to www.engarde.de