The Austrian Astrid Neumayer piloted her 11-year old Holsteiner gelding Everglade to victory in the Grand Prix Special on Sunday 6 March 2011 during the first week of competition at the Sunshine Tour CDI in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain. Set in beautiful sunny weather with a cool breeze sweeping over the Andalucian hills, the Sunday morning class featured the top 15 riders of the Grand Prix.
Neumayer and her bright bay Everglade worked their magic in the ring and scored highpoints with their passage and harmonious silhouette. The piaffe was a bit mediocre with the horse becoming wide behind. The one tempi's were super, the two's could have been straighter. The judges' panel, consisting of Maribel Alonso (MEX), Freddy Leyman (BEL), Peter Holler (GER), Francisco Guerra Diaz (ESP) and Peter Engel (GER), was quite unanimous and scored the test a winning 69,942 per cent.
"What a day," Neumayer commented. "I was very happy with Gladdy's Special. The test was faulfree and had highlights like in the Grand Prix, but when I heard the score, 69,94%, it blew me out of my socks! I was in the lead."
Lauro Aguilo and his eye catching grey stallion @Hierro (by Ferro x Biguero) finished second with a strong score of 69,396%. They beautiful stallion has a quick, active hind leg but showed hardly any willingness to go forward. Like in the Grand Prix the horse was distracted, impressed by the surroundings, and the 41-year old rider was not so discrete in kicking his horse to action. Despite the fact that the passage is absolutely fantastic, the loss of impulsion led to a mediocre pirouette right and a mistake in the one tempi's. This cost them the victory. Albeit, Hierro is one to watch for the future.
Kildare born but German based Irish Judy Reynolds ranked third on her Dutch Warmblood gelding Remember (by Careful). The bay gelding was a bit stiff in the back in the trot work which caused him to have less ground cover in trot. The half passes were nice, but Remember came behind the vertical. The piaffe work was safe and especially the final piaffe at X was gorgeous even though the horse slightly travelled forward. The one tempi's on the diagonal were gorgeous but a mistake crept into the tempi's on the centerline. The pirouettes were small. Reynolds posted a score of 68.979%
The winner of the Grand Prix, Jose Antonio Garcia Mena, had to be content with a fourth place and 68.479% score after a fault ridden test. Garcia Mena and Lovera's PRE stallion Norte started out well with beautiful, ground covering trot extensions. The horse was searching for the rhythm a bit in the first piaffe but was comfortable with the second. The errors crept into the canter work starting out with mistakes in the two tempi's and the rider seemingly losing count in the one's on the diagonal. Mena apparently lost his focus and hicupped as well in the one's on the centerline. The horse changed lead in canter after the pirouette right. The final piaffe-passage centerline was lovely though.
Two riders tied for fifth place with a score of 68.396%. Austrian Nora Motwurf was a class act with a correctly ridden, clean Special though the horse is a bit straight in his front leg and could take the weight more on the hindlegs in piaffe. Juan Manuel Vidal Testal and the black Gachino showed a wondeful trot half pass left, super passage and trot extensions but executed not enough steps in the second piaffe.
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels
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