Edward Gal and Voice Claim Freestyle Victory at 2015 CDI-W Odense

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 14:21
2015 CDI-W Odense

Edward Gal from The Nederlands and his Dutch warmblood stallion Voice won the Kur to Music at the first Western European league World Cup qualifier of the 2015-2016 season in Odense, Denmark, on Sunday 18 October 2015. With a score of 78.800% the judges ranked Gal in front of two young Danish riders Anna Kasprzak and Agnete Kirk Thinggaard.

Odense was Voice's first international show since the CDI Rotterdam last June. The black stallion was active and showed much suspension in the opening piaffe-passage work of the freestyle, but in the piaffe Voice always stepped backwards with the left hindleg. The chunky, muscled stallion often looks sour with ears flat and mouth open when motivated by his rider to stay expressive and engaged in the work. In the collected trot he becomes passagey and uneven in the stride length, but the extensions were forward and bouncey with good overtrack. He broke into canter at the end of one extended trot and the transition to walk after another trot extension on centerline was rough. The nose needed to stretch more out in the walk extension but the ground cover was good. The double pirouettes looked slightly laboured but the tempi changes went smoothly. In the final transition from canter to passage the horse almost come to a halt. The final passage was lightfooted and forward, but Voice did not stand still in the final halt.

Gal had the advantage of being the last rider to go in the class but it wasn’t the easiest of victories as Voice showed some tense moments. Four judges ranked the pair first, British Isobel Wessels had the duo fourth. They scored 78.800%. “He felt better today, but he was still a bit nervous. He got a bit nervous in there, and maybe he thought he was at a stallion show. He wanted to do too much”, said the 45-year-old rider about his number two Grand Prix ride Voice. “He felt good at the start, but he got edgy as we went along. However it was better than the Grand Prix. It was his first indoor show, so all things considered it was a good result”, the Dutchman said this evening.

Gal is not sure yet about his World Cup show schedule, but is considering Salzburg, Amsterdam and Den Bosch he revealed, but added "I do not have plans for this World Cup season. I try not to make too many plans too early," Gal said. "The competition here in Odense has been tight and that made it very exciting for us riders. Because of my first place again this year I am certainly coming back next year."

Far from certain
The outcome was far from certain after Kasprzak won yesterday’s Grand Prix on a mark of 73.860. Gal was a close second on 73.380 while his fellow-countryman, Hans Peter Minderhoud, lined up third with Glock’s Romanov on 73.320. Sweden’s rising star, 28-year-old Emilie Nyrerod, filled fourth spot with Miata ahead of Kirk Thinggard in fifth. Perhaps the biggest turnaround in terms of finishing spots today was that of Ireland’s Judy Reynolds, who rocketed up from 12th of the 20 starters in the Grand Prix to fill fifth place at the end of the Freestyle.

The 33-year-old German-based Irish athlete was holding the lead on her score of 74.425 at the halfway stage of the competition. Her 13-year-old brown gelding has been showing ever-improving form as the pair have climbed up to 54th in the world rankings over the past year, and this was the first major show for Vancouver K since they just missed out on Olympic qualification at the European Championships in Aachen in August. Reynolds remains determined to make the cut to Rio through any other possible route, and has planned a consistent campaign of the Reem Acra series over the coming months.

She was deeply disappointed with yesterday’s Grand Prix performance, and worked hard to turn that around. “The arena is very atmospheric and I was caught unawares when he backed off going into the corners. I was much better prepared for that reaction today", she explained after posting a mark of 74.425.

Lead overtaken

Her lead was overtaken by Nyrerod who was third into the arena after the break. The Swede has been making a significant impact this summer, earning high praise for her contribution to her country’s victory in their home leg of the Nations Cup™ Dressage series at Falsterbo in July, before making another big impression at the Europeans in Aachen. Her score of 74.800 today moved her out in front until Kasprzak seriously raised the bar with a mark of 77.100. However the Danish rider knew her result left the door open for Gal.

“It wasn’t quite our day today. He (Donnperignon) was really good yesterday, but today he didn’t have the same feeling in the warm-up. We started well, but there were a couple of misunderstandings and it made him tight, which came out in the piaffe. I need to improve my choreography, I know that”, Kasprzak said.

When Kirk Thinggaard posted 76.250 with the lovely Jojo AZ who always makes his job look like a whole lot of fun, only Gal was left to threaten Kasprzak’s advantage, and in the end the Dutchman did it despite some difficult moments during the test.

“The atmosphere in the stands got to horse, and he wasn’t as smooth as he can be. Sometimes he reacts weirdly, but you know sometimes the weird horses are the good ones!” he pointed at the post-competition press conference. “With performances like that, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose” he added.

Photos © Ridehesten

Related Links
Scores 2015 CDI-W Odense
Kasprzak Takes the Grand Prix at 2015 CDI-W Odense
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2015-2015 World Cup circuit