Tinne Vilhemson-Silfven Secures Double at 2012 CDIO Rotterdam
Swedish Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven secured a double victory at the 2012 CDIO Rotterdam in The Netherlands, outshining the Dutch home riders who battled it out in their last Dutch Olympic observation trial held at this event. Vilhelmson and her Hanoverian gelding Don Auriello won the Grand Prix and Kur to Music with top seventy percentage scores.
Vilhelmson and Antonia Ax:son Johnson's 10-year old Don Auriello showed outstanding form in Rotterdam, which figuratively lies on the road to the London Olympic Games. The pair is a total pleasure to watch: the dark bay gelding is always soft and light in the bridle and the rider's aids are invisible. The combination is an epitome of lightness and harmony; the way dressage is supposed to be. In the Grand Prix the canter work was the highlight of the test with focused and correct work and gorgeous, uphill flying changes. The piaffe and passage are pure, in rhythm but could be more electric with the horse picking up its feet more. They scored 75.830% in the Grand Prix, placing first unanimously with all members of the the distinguished panel of O and I-judges. The judging in Rotterdam was quite strict, which is no problem as long as it rewards light and harmonious riding instead of spectacular but tense horses. The Grand Prix was assesed by Mariette Sanders, Wim Ernes, Jean Michel Roudier, Evi Eisenhardt and Jacques van Daele.
Vilhelmson did the double in Rotterdam and rose to the top in the Kur to Music as well. Riding to a Slings Music Cast arranged freestyle based on The Who's Tommy, Tinne scored 78.450% to fend off the pack of Dutch competitors hounding for high scores in order to impress Olympic selector Sjef Janssen. The Swedish rider was all grace during the press conference where her winning performance was ignored by a Dutch media drooling for information about the rest of Olympic campaign of their A-team riders.
During the Grand Prix conference Vilhelmson said that she was "very happy. I rode with a big smile inside myself. Don Auriello felt great, he liked the arena and it was a great test for me." After her double victory Vilhelmson was on cloud nine. "I'm totally overwhelmed and so proud and impressed by my horse because he hasn't done so many top level competitions."
Swedish team coach Bo Jena told Eurodressage that the Swedish CDIO team, consisting of Patrik Kittel, Tinne Vilhelmson, Minna Telde and Rose Mathisen, will constitute Sweden's team for the Olympics. The number three spot, for which Telde and Mathisen are in the running, will be allocated after the CDIO Aachen.
Seventh Olympics for Van Grunsven
Throughout the 2012 show season Anky van Grunsven has been dilly-dallying about Olympic contention. Two months ago she firmly decided upon riding the Dutch Olympic trials but her road to the finish line has been one of major ups and downs as her 18-year old Salinero (by Salieri x Lungau) is showing clear signs of mileage as well as a lack of show routine. At the first selection trial in Hoofddorp, her Grand Prix and Special test rides were dramatically filled with errors, but her freestyle showed greatness. The same scenario happened in Rotterdam.
The seasoned Van Grunsven is a true pro in test riding and knows how to hide potential problem areas. The trot extensions can no longer be executed full of expression without Salinero breaking into canter or taking uneven steps. Her solution in the Grand Prix was to ride no extensions at all. The first diagonal was probably the best of the the three but none of them showed any lengthening of the frame nor overtrack in stride, which means an actual extensions was not executed. The judges were incredibly generous by scoring those extensions with 6s and even 7s! The trot half passes were beautiful but Salinero dragged his legs in the reinback (score 7). The piaffe and passage work was nicely executed with solid transitions, but the horse no longer shows the lift and spark he was renowned for. At some points he displayed more activity with the left hind leg in passage. In walk the horse loses clarity of rhythm and moves almost completely laterally, despite covering ground in the extension. It was obvious that in her entire test, Anky had pulled the handbrake on to play it safe. The zig zag was a highlight and the tempi changes were correctly executed though the two's were crooked in the body. The pirouettes were good. The begin halt was well done, but the end halt almost non-existent.
Anky scored 73.404% to finish fifth in the Grand Prix as third highest placed Dutch rider (number four if you would virtually count in Adelinde Cornelissen). After the Grand Prix Van Grunsven commented that "I was very careful in the trot extensions beause I didn't want to make mistakes. I could have had more power in trot, but I was more happy with the feeling (compared to Hoofddorp). Now I know more for the test tomorrow and can set the feeling better."
As usual Van Grunsven added a notch in her favourite test of all, the Kur to Music, which is tailored to a horse's strengths and slightly avoids a horse's weakness. Anky opted to ride her Wibi Soerjadi freestyle, which has a low degree of technical difficulty (despite Salinero being one of the most seasoned horses out there). However, the piano and violin dominated music has a lovely emotive effect on the crowds, which rewarded the popular Dutch athlete with a standing ovation after the test. Anky presented a nicer Salinero, which was quicker to her aids and more active from behind. The begin and end halt were not executed and there was still a loss of rhythm in the trot extension, but the piaffe and passage were more expressive and the half passes had more ground cover. The walk was mediocre with a lateral rhythm and one change in the one tempi's had a double beat, but the canter half passes were well ridden and the pirouettes small. Anky's freestyle was a clean ride in which small beauty errors affected the score. She finished second behind Vilhelmson with a realistic score of 78.400%.
After the CDIO Rotterdam, team trainer Sjef Janssen announced the three Dutch riders who would contest the Nations' Cup at the Olympic Games. Adelinde Cornelissen, Edward Gal and Anky van Grunsven were picked for the challenge. With this Olympic nomination, Van Grunsven has broken yet another record, being the Dutch athlete with the most Olympic representations in his or her career. For Anky it will be her seventh Games. In an interview with Dutch national television, Anky confessed that her Olympic selection is "some sort of a surprise. I had many yes-no thoughts. The decision for me was the Kur in Rotterdam, it was wow, and especially how the crowd reacted there."
Anky admitted that she will no longer vy for an individual medal but that she has been chosen for her experience and team value. "On the one hand, (I wonder) what does it add for me personally, maybe nothing. It doesn't really mean much to me if I were seventh or first, but at the other hand I started the process and I'm not someone who quits even when it gets hard. I'll finish it. I understand that this is not for my individual interest. When you go with an 18-year old horse you know you are not going for an individual medal, but if I can help the team, than I think, "well I can also stay home and watch it'; It's a hard choice, but I'm going," said Van Grunsven.
Gal No Longer Undercover
The CDIO Rotterdam was all about the Olympics and after having won the 2012 Dutch Championships, Edward Gal put himself in a strong spot for team selection. In Rotterdam he confirmed form in the Grand Prix by finishing second with 74.085% though the individual judges' scores oscillated between 72.553% and 76.170%.
Gal's Grand Prix ride on the Dutch warmblood Undercover (by Ferro x Donnerhall) was one of "overcollection," with a rider in total control of all the movements. The entire ride lacked body swing and natural forwardness. Gal collected the black stallion the entire test and the curb rein was always firmly held. There was no overtrack in the trot extensions (score 7) but the half passes were very nice. The piaffe is very active, quick off the ground and with seamless transitions, but tense in the topline. The extended walk was good with nice opening of the frame and lengthening of the stride but in the collected walk he paced before the transition to piaffe. The tempi changes could have shown more uphill tendency and ground cover, but the changes in itself were clean. The left pirouette was the better one of the two. The final centerline was the highlight of the test with solid piaffe-passage, but the horse did not stand still in the end halt.
"I must say Undercover was excited and it was a problem for him," Gal explained. "I had to stop him a lot, hold him back a lot. I still need to get more control."
In the Kur to Music, Gal landed a fourth place with 77.300%. Undercover's show inexperience became apparent in the evening freestyle class as the electric atmosphere affected the horse. Riding to old music of which the music does not match Undercover's gaits, Gal had do do his best to filter the tension out of this horse. There was no begin halt (nor end halt), none of the extended trots showed any ground cover and even though the piaffe and passage work was very engaged and regular, the horse became wide in the piaffe. The collected walk was much better compared to the Grand Prix and the extended walk sufficed in neck stretch and ground cover. The canter work had strong points: solid half passes, nice two tempi's and small pirouettes (but the lift in the shoulder could improve).
"Undercover was very impressed by the big stadium in the light at dusk and by the atmosphere. This made him too tense. At some points he became short in the neck, because Edward had his hands full with the small black Undercover and his mega turbo engine," said Gal's business partner Nicole Werner. "There were many other fantastic parts though. The piaffe and passage and transitions were of unknown quality. We're very proud of Undercover and he'll be getting a holiday now which he earned."
Schellekens and Toots Back in the Running
Imke Schellekens and the 1.88m standing Toots (by Jazz x Havidoff) finished fourth in the Grand Prix with 73.489% and put themselves back in the race for an Olympic spot after a disappointing performance at the Dutch Championships two weeks ago. In his first year at Grand Prix the green Toots showed much promise but he will need another year to come to full potential. In the Rotterdam Grand Prix he displayed super trot extensions, ground covering half passes and elegant passage work, which could be more closed in the frame and stronger from behind. The tall gelding is still quite insecure in piaffe, crossing over behind or stepping on his own coronet band. In the transition from passage to canter Toots made an unscripted flying change which Imke corrected quickly. The zig zag was beautiful, the tempi changes ground covering and the pirouettes were nice. Unfortunately Schellekens kept a very strong bit contact throughout the test and the horse's mouth was often wide open, especially on the left side.
"I wanted to see if I could get the form back. The Dutch Championships were my worst show until now," Schellekens said after the Grand Prix. "I'm pleased to have the form back but I know I can do better with more energy."
Schellekens and Toots climbed the ranking one place in the Kur to Music, slotting in third with 77.750%. Riding to Wibi Soerjadi composed piano music infused with some strong guitar, Schellekens and Toots showed passage which was more elevated, but the piaffes were still small. The trot half passes were lovely and extensions expressive. The walk was well regulated. In canter Imke rode good half passes, nice flying changes and strong pirouettes. As Toots is still a young Grand Prix horse, the level of technical difficulty is understandably kept at a minimum but the floorplan has very little innovation with the majority of the movements performed on diagonal lines from start to finish.
"To my feeling this Kur was much better to the one at the Dutch Championships," Schellekens explained. "I had the impression this ride was fluent and it cannot have looked anything else but easy and automatic."
Sjef Janssen on Olympic Selection
On Sunday 24 June team trainer Sjef Janssen announced that the Dutch Olympic team would be constituted by Anky van Grunsven, Edward Gal and Adelinde Cornelissen, who has to prove her horse's fitness at a national show next week in Ermelo, The Netherlands. Imke Schellekens and Rotterdam CDI-tour winner Patrick van der Meer will have to do a ride-off at the CDIO Aachen for the individual spot.
Janssen's decision was mainly based on the results from Hoofddorp and Rotterdam. "If I purely look at the results at the two observation trials, they are the best riders," Janssen said. "Gal and Van Grunsven both have a lot of experience. The competition in London will be ridden under great pressure and experience is of utmost importance." The trainer added that "the kur doesn't count for the calculation for team selection."
A reporter from Dutch NOS television asked Janssen if it was difficult to select his own life-partner on the team. "In the past she was the number one so it was easy but now it's more difficult. But she's part of the selection process just like the rest. She has to want it herself. There is no use to make a fool of yourself there and in that case she wouldn't go." Sjef also added that, "I have no doubts about her. She and I truly have the feeling that she can be important to the team."
When asked about Parzival's condition, Janssen replied that, "the horse had some problems. They are on the way of improvement. They are almost good. She'll have to prove herself at the national show and prove that her horse is fit to compete as we say. It's in my nature to be a happy and positively thinking person and I almost assume that it will be alright."
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - No reproduction allowed