The 2016 World Cup Finals unfolded like planned with title favourite, Hans Peter Minderhoud, capturing the 2016 World Cup victory, his first major title in his international Grand Prix career. Local hero Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven finished second, while 2015 World Cup Finals' bronze medallist Jessica von Bredow-Werndl again landed third place.
The 2016 Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden, were slightly lacklustre in the absence of several top contenders who dropped out last minute. Dutch Hans Peter Minderhoud easily took advantage of the situation by proving consistency and form aboard his Austrian owned Swiss warmblood Flirt (by Florestan x Gauguin de Lully).
Minderhoud rode his The Mask of Zorro freestyle which has recognizable, filmic tunes, but a low degree of technical difficulty. All piaffes were executed on the track with support of the fence which benefitted the steady rhythm. The highlights of the test were certainly the big, sweeping tempi changes. The lovely chestnut is incredible obedient and willing to do the job for his rider. The passage, today, however, was quite irregular with the right hind leg dragging. Also in the passage half passes, the regularity could have been better. The extended walk had excellent overtrack but the clarity failed a bit; the collected walk was lateral. The pirouettes were small, the canter half passes covered much ground. Towards the end of the test Flirt ran a bit out of steam and his passage lost regularlity, also in the passage half passes, but overall there were no major mistakes in his kur and the horse's fabulous temperament was precious.
The 2016 World Cup Finals were judged by Susan Hoevenaars, Irina Maknami, Mariette Sanders-van Gansewinkel, Gustvan Svalling, Susanne Baarup, Evi Eisenhardt, and Anne Gribbons. Five judges placed the combination first, the judges on the short side by A ranked the pair second. With a total score of 82.357% the 42-year old Minderhoud grabbed the 2016 World Cup Title.
“It was really special for me”, Minderhoud said afterwards. “This was my sixth final and I’ve never been on the podium, although I was twice really close. I started off as a groom and it was always my dream to win it so it’s very emotional. The horse is almost like a dog, you can take him everywhere. He’s very sweet and always tries for you, he’s a really good boy!”
Swedish Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and her 14-year old Hanoverian Don Auriello (by Don Davidoff x White Star) were certainy candidates for the title, but they became the runners-up. The pair performed its long-time freestyle based on music by The Who's Tommy. The trot half passes were expressive, the extensions had more overtrack than in the Grand Prix and the pirouettes were small. Vilhelmson had a high degree of technical difficulty with a one handed pirouette, followed by 1 tempi's on the centerline and another one handed pirouette, as well as a combination of two tempi changes immediately followed by one tempi changes, but her risk taking was not sufficient for the victory. Today's passage work was mediocre with Don Auriello getting uneven behind with more left hindleg activity. The walk was very well ridden. At the end of the ride, the otherwise lovely piaffes lost some forward tendency. The halts lacked some polish as the first halt was not immobile and the end halt not square. Their score of 81.429% was just not enough for the victory, which was heavily pursued as Tinne's long-time coach Louise Natthorst was able to bag the victory with Walk on Top in the 1998 World Cup Finals in Gothenburg eighteen years ago.
German Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and her 15-year old Dutch warmblood stallion Unee BB (by Gribaldi x Dageraad) scored their second World Cup bronze in two consecutive years. The dynamic duo began their freestyle with the canter work and produced small pirouettes but struggled with the first two-tempi line in which there was a mistake. Also the one tempi changes were croup high, but the collected walk was very nice. The trot half passes were well ridden. The degree of technical difficulty was quite high with an extended canter, followed by a transition to a piaffe pirouette and a downward transition to walk. The extended walk was outstanding, the piaffe at A, with support of the fence, was nice but sometimes the passage was not sufficiently engaged from behind. Also in the passage half passes the hindquarters could have tracked up a bit more. The trot extensions were lovely and throughout the test the black stallion remained in a nice frame, with a supple elastic contact. Von Bredow finished her ride with a piaffe fan, but she lost the collection in the passage coming out of it. The end trot extension was powerful thought. Jessica posted a score of 80.464%.
Patrik Kittel and his 17-year old Dutch stallion Patrik Kittel (by Solos Carex x Scandic) rode their beloved Depeche Mode freestyle which accentuates the horse's spring and bounce as well as steady rhythm in the piaffe and passage work. The trot extensions were ridden quite conservatively as the horse struggled with his regularlity this weekend and also the passage got slightly uneven at times, but the half passes were buoyant. A big mistake in the walk - the horse broke into a jog - meddled most with the score. In the canter work the changes were expressive, but the stallion lost the uphill tendency. He also got quite boisterous in the corner before the canter extension, just like in the Grand Prix. Kittel and Scandic received much support from the packed Swedish crowds in the Gothenburg arena and scored 78.946% to land fourth place.
Text by Astrid Appels
Photos © Dirk Caremans / Jon Stroud - Check out all 2016 World Cup Finals photos in Dirk Caremans' and Jon Stroud's wonderful database
Scores 2016 World Cup Finals
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2016 World Cup Finals