--- Text © Eurodressage (this article expresses Eurodressage's' eye-witness account and opinion about the competition)
On the opening day of competition at the 2024 CDI-W Wellington on Thursday 8 February 2024 on week five of the Global Dressage Festival it were two chestnuts who grabbed the blue ribbon and led the charge in the big tour division.
The day began in the international arena with the Under 25 Intermediaire II followed by the Grand Prix for Special, which featured 16 riders, and then the Grand Prix for Kur with eleven pairs.
The second month of competition in Wellington kicked off and while the field presented an interesting mix of riders from various flags, the big names of U.S. dressage sport have not yet shown their faces.. Groundhog day.. The weather is also unusually windy and cool for the time of the year, but that makes conditions less stuffy to compete in
Grand Prix for Special: Vilhelmson and Hyatt Win
The morning big tour class was the Grand Prix for Special and the top three was captured by three chestnut horses, although that's rather a fun co-incidence than that colour would determine athleticism and quality, of course...
Swedish Florida snowbird Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Antonia Ax:son Johnson's 12-year old KWPN mare Hyatt (by Apache x Sandreo) topped the board with the highest score. Neither of the 16 pairs could crack the 70% marker, but the 69.348% judges Hans Voser, Maria Colliander, Christine Prip, William Warren, and Kari McClain gave to Hyatt sufficed for the win. Hyatt is a very elegant, energetic mare with good crossing of the legs in the half passes and a bouncy piaffe-passage. Today she was not fully carrying herself and often crawled behind the vertical, but her experienced Olympic rider stayed calm and tried to give the horse a confidence building ride.
“Four weeks ago when I went in with her in the stormy weather [on week one] she got a bit excited and scared, so today I just wanted to have a good round," said Tinne. "To ride she is great, she just needs to learn about all the other stuff around. I just want to give her good experiences so she gets trusting."
She continued, "this winter season here is always a perfect preparation. Having a new horse like this that I’m trying to get into the big sport it’s perfect — you can compete a lot of weeks without traveling. You can ride on Fridays in the night and get a real experience and practice the championship feeling, or go over in the National side where it’s more quiet. There is everything — the possibility to do all that is perfect.”
Canadian Camille Carier Bergeron made her international debut aboard the 1'-year old Oldenburg chestnut mare Finnlanderin (by Fidertanz x Donnerhall) which she bought in the summer of 2022 from Dutch Madeleine Witte-Vrees. The pair finished second with 67.804%. The duo presented a very consistent image in the silhouette, showed good trot half passes and lovely passage, but the piaffe lacks sit, just like it did with its previous rider, even though Bergeron achieves better rhythm. Mistakes in the one tempi changes and one single change affected the score.
Canadian born multiple Olympian Ashley Holzer, now riding for the USA, had her hands full with the talented 11-year old KWPN gelding Hansel (by Don Olymbrio x Metall). He was very spooky and on edge, which resulted in a tense ride. The horse can do a nice piaffe on the spot and has plenty of enegery in the passage, but he jogged in the walk, hurried in the trot extensions and had a mistake in the ones. The score today was 67.739%.
Australian Jemma Heran and the black 15-year old Rhinelander mare Saphira Royal (by San Amour x Monteverdi) presented an elegant picture with very expressive passage work, but in piaffe she could bounce more. They were fourth with 67.108%. Canadian Tina Irwin returned to the arena this year with her 18-year old Oldenburg mare Fancy That (by Donnerschwee x Freiherr) after a two-year break due to injury. The bay mare still has a superb passage but was a bit more careful in the piaffe today. They were fifth with 66.348%
Grand Prix for Kur: Anna Marek and Fayvel
The Grand Prix for Kur on Thursday afternoon turned out to be a duel between Anna Marek from Ocala and Kevin Kohmann from Wellington.
Anna Marek and Cynthia Davila's 14-year old KWPN gelding Fayvel (by Zizi Top x Houston) convinced the judges' panel (Kari McClain, Hans Voser, Maria Colliander, Stephen Clarke, William Warren) the most and got the winning score of 72.826%. The liver chestnut gelding looked a bit tight in the frame but convinced in the very good one and two tempi changes and solid zig zag. The first piaffe had some backward tendency and the horse does get wide behind int he passage, but it was a more than decent round.
Marek describes Cynthia Davila’s Fayvel as “a bit of a freak” and “like riding a bouncy ball”. “He has no thoughts other than he’s very forward and he does what you ask him to do,” said Marek. “I’ve shown him quite a bit nationally and this was my third CDI on him and we had a clean ride. There were pieces of it that I could have maybe ridden a bit better, but overall I was thrilled with him and a little bit shocked and excited that he was so well rewarded. He’s a really fun, forward, honest horse to ride."
German born Kevin Kohmann stayed close on Marek's heels with his mother-in-law Terri Kane's 15-year old Hanoverian gelding Dunensee (by Dancier x Davignon) and landed second place with 71.239%. The black gelding had nice sit in the piaffe, but at times gets wide behind. The two tempi changes and zig zag were well ride and the ones were very straight. In the extended walk the horse hurried a bit and could march more from the shoulder, but overall it was a pleasant ride to watch.
Portuguese Maria Pais do Amaral flew in to compete Horse Campline's 13-year old Oldenburg Hot Hit (by Hotline x Diamond Hit) and placed third with 68.435%. The grey gelding is wintering in Florida with his previous rider Frederic Wandres at Hof Kasselmann USA. Amaral will return to Florida to ride the CDI 5* in March.
-- Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED / NO SCREEN SHOTS