Hans Peter Minderhoud and Donna Silver Have a Touch of Class
After the retirement of his 2008 Olympic mare Nadine at the 2011 European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, long time Dutch Grand Prix team member Hans Peter Minderhoud had to figure out a new strategy to stay afloat in the pool of the Dutch elite Grand Prix riders. With the 12-year old stallion Tango as only Grand Prix option, Minderhoud went to look for a second iron in the fire and found a silver lining in Silvia Rizzo's Danish warmblood mare Donna Silver.
In December 2011, after having trained with Hans Peter for one month, Italian Silvia Rizzo and her partner Michele Betti sat down at the table to make Hans Peter an offer he couldn't refuse. The Dutchman would receive the ride on rising Grand Prix star Donna Silver (by Don Schufro x Willemoes) for his 2012 Olympic campaign. Rizzo would benefit from the deal as she would get a more seasoned mare in return after eight months, with which she hopes to aim for the 2013 European Championships in Herning, Denmark.
"I rode Donna Silver for a while and knew she had the potential for the Games," Minderhoud told Eurodressage. "I think she's awesome. I totally love her type and expression. Even though she is quite temperamental I love her character. She reminds me of Nadine."
It has been an eventful project for Minderhoud to bring Donna Silver from a green Grand Prix horse to a Dutch Olympic team candidate. During the winter months he took his time to get to know the sensitive mare and get on the same wavelength with her. The combination made its international show debut at the 2012 CDIO Saumur at the end of April 2012, where they finished fourth in the Grand Prix. Three weeks later they were third in the CDI Munich Grand Prix with 71.723%.
As the weeks went by their level climbed to unprecedented heights and at the 2012 Dutch Championships Donna Silver proved her worth for The Netherlands by finishing fifith in the Grand Prix with 73.277% as third best potential team rider in the class. The grey beauty with the floppy ears is a crowd favourite due to her looks and resemblence to Andreas Helgstrand's legendary mare Blue Hors Matine.
The Nationals in Hoofddorp served as first official Dutch Olympic observation trial and the Olympic road continues this week at the CDIO Rotterdam where Minderhoud will ride her in the CDI 3* competition. Hans Peters sees definite Olympic team potential in Donna Silver but the competition in Holland is fierce, with his own partner Edward Gal, Anky van Grunsven, Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Patrick van der Meer as rivals for a spot.
"It's been such a short while that I have been riding her," said Minderhoud. "It would have been nicer if I had more time. With Donna there is still much potential and progression possible."
Leading up to the second Dutch Olympic observation trial in Rotterdam, Hans Peter has focused on conserving the mare's energy and raising her training level. "After Hoofddorp we took it easy for a few days and then starting building her up again. I hope she will show the progress she has made at home in the show ring."
Dutch team coach Sjef Janssen has stated that the CDIO Aachen might became an additional Dutch selection event depending on the Rotterdam performances of the Dutch Olympic A-team riders. "I will be going to Aachen but I only know after Rotterdam, which horses I'll ride there," Minderhoud explained.
Olympic fever is definitely spiking at the 2012 CDIO Rotterdam, which starts Wednesday 20 June with the CDI 3 Grand Prix in the morning in which Hans Peter and Donna Silver will appear.
Photos © Dirk Caremans