CDI 3* competition at the 2014 CDIO Wellington wrapped up on Sunday afternoon 23 February 2014 with Susan Dutta and her Oldenburg bred Currency DC (by Clintino x Classiker) winning the Grand Prix Kur to Music. The Grand Prix Freestyle was a truly international class, seeing riders from Canada, the United States, Germany, Georgia, Brazil, and Italy.
American Susan Dutta and her own 14-year old Currency DC emerged victorious from the class with a score of 71.950%. Canadian Jacqueline Brooks rode to second place with D Niro on a score of 71.275%. Maria Kaldewei (GER) rounded out the top three with a score of 68.625% aboard Die Susse.
Dutta was very pleased with the improvements she saw in her test after making some adjustments to her choreography. "I've done this choreography a few times this year, and I kept having mistakes in the changes. We were finally like, 'Let's change the lines to make it so that we can have some success of a clean trip.' And it was good. It worked. So that was a nice feeling," Dutta explained. "I'm just right now trying to get clean, technical tricks. That's a huge success for me. I've never been a fancy choreography rider. I always have great music, but I like to be a safe rider."
Dutta's "Slumdog Millionaire"-themed music was a natural choice, given her husband Tim's Indian heritage. She was particularly drawn to the lyrics, "jai ho," that repeat through her routine; they mean "blessings" in Hindi.
Currency DC shows great improvement and much development in his piaffe-passage work compared to his performances in Europe half a year ago. The trot half passes were ground covering. In walk he needs more overtrack in the extensions and in the collected the bay gelding gets quite stiff in the top line, which also shows in the quite cramped one tempi changes. The two tempi's were much better. The right pirouette right was the best of the ones show in the freestyle.
Of her choreography, Dutta commented, "I love the pirouettes on the short end [of the ring] because you can really ride into them. For me, it fixes the habit that I love to over prepare, and I just don't have the time, so they're always good. I love the ending, that fan in the piaffe. I could do those all day long. "I don't do anything too crazy tricky because the horse is pretty flamboyant in those movements, so you want [the judges and audience] to just be able to watch and enjoy him and not be too radical in the movements."
Second place finisher Brooks tried out her new Phantom of the Opera freestyle with D Niro, which she felt went quite well. Her biggest victory was reaching a breakthrough in the gelding's self-carriage. "He's just mature now. He knows his job now. I finally feel like the fitness and the strength and understanding are all at the same level," Brooks remarked. "This season, it's all about his strength and his self-carriage. That's a scary thing when you start saying to them in the ring, 'Now you go ahead and try to do this on your own,' and you try to give them a little bit less help so you can push them uphill. That I was extremely pleased with today."
A unique challenge for Brooks is tweaking the timing of her choreography to make up for the fact her horse moves differently on the footing of the stadium. "On this amazing footing, it's different timing than in a normal sand ring. They stay on the surface a bit more here, they gain a bit more ground. You see people will usually finish a bit ahead of their music on this footing," Brooks described.
Brooks actually sees the difference in timing as an advantage with her new choreography, not a hindrance. "I'm really happy with where I'm using up that music. I can make it a bit more difficult. I can take my half passes really to the walls and back, which increased the degree of difficulty," Brooks expressed.
As first to go in the arena for the Sunday morning Grand Prix Kur to Music, Brooks and her experienced 15-year old produced a sweet and clean freestyle ride. The heavily vocalized kur with French and Italian lyrics suited the horse well and Brooks was able to ride each movement accurately to the music. The canter pirouettes could have been smaller, the piaffes ridden with a bit more impulsion and the collected walk was slightly tense, but overall it was a very gente and lovely test to watch.
German Maria Kaldewei and her Oldenburg mare Die Süsse (by Diamond Hit x World Cup II) improved considerably in the freestyle with the mare less hard in the contact with the bit and more expressive and energetic and on the aids. The regularity in the piaffe-passage still needs improvement, but the dark bay had good flexion in the joints and good suspension. Kaldewei's freestyle is highly operatic and the high amount of piaffe-passage at the start of the ride is overbearing. The extended walk had two hooves overstep but the mare could swing more through the back so the rhythm gets purer. The two tempi changes were nice but both the double pirouettes to the left and right were far too big. Kaldewei finished third with 68.625%.
Italian Silvia Rizzo and the 15-year old Lusitano stallion Sal (by Mississipe x Golega) slotted in fourth place with an improved score of 66.125%. In only a few weeks time, the partnership has been developing consistently and Rizzo is discovering the buttons on her professionally trained liver chestnut stallion. Riding to Waka Waka and Blurred Lines, Silvia certainly brings fun to the show ring with her upbeat and contemporary music. The passage half pass left was a bit shaky, but the trot half passes had much cross over and good balance. The transitions to piaffe need to be fine-tuned more, but in the piaffe the stallion sits beautifully. The two tempi changes were ground covering and very uphill, but Rizzo struggles to find a good strike off in the onset of the one tempi changes. The double pirouette left was outstanding: small and well jumped. There were hiccups in the second line of one tempi changes. Rizzo finished her test with a 90° turn in piaffe.
Georgian Joanne Vaughan is on a whirlwind tour in Florida competing her two Grand Prix horses Elmegardens Marquis and Prego non-stop. For the Sunday freestyle she saddled the 17-year old Dutch bred Prego (by Zazou x Ulft). Vaughan also used Blurred Lines as well as tunes from Gotye for the trot. Her chestnut Dutch warmblood was clearly affected by the heat and got behind the leg. He lost the impulsion in the piaffe and passage. While the pair produced some promising work, there were too many inaccuracies for a big score. The horse broke into canter from passage, the pirouette right was too big (the left one much better) and there was a mistake in the tempi line. They scored 64.975% to rank fifth.
Text by Laura Cardon and Astrid Appels
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