-- GDF press release by Alice Collins, edited and expanded by Eurodressage
Swedish Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén drew on her considerable experience and established name to secure the victory i the Grand Prix special at the 2024 CDI-W Wellington on Saturday afternoon 10 February 2024.
Two experienced riding performances from less than ideal starts snagged the top two spots in the 3* Grand Prix Special on Saturday. Both the winner Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén (SWE) and Ashley Holzer (USA) had to contend with tension but clawed back the marks during their tests from low starts.
Vilhelmson Silfvén’s ride on Hyatt, Lövsta Stuteri’s mare by Apache, began with miscommunications on the first centerline, resulting in an opening trending score of 35% from the panel of five judges. By the end of her test, the big screen flashed up her final winning score of 70.596%.
The rider struggled with the frame as the mare curled herself up and got behind the forwards driving leg. The flashy mare continued to be electric and expressive and Vilhelmson tried to open the frame with visible half-halts, but it did not always work. Hyatt certainly is very gifted in piaffe and passage and showed plenty of beautiful moments, like in the trot half passes, but in the end their winning score come from a very lenient panel of judges (Kari McClain, William Warren, Christine Prip, Maria Colliander, Stephen Clarke) that gave marks between 68.9% and 71.8%.
Vilhelmson Silfvén’s score is the highest yet with the inexperienced 12-year-old mare. This is the pair’s third big tour CDI together and only their second Grand Prix Special since sourcing Hyatt at Hof Kasselmann in Germany.
“The entry was a bit exciting and I kinda did all the movements before the first salute because she was a little bit afraid to go in,” said Vilhelmson Silfvén, who is a regular on the GDF winter circuit. “But she has to learn. I got a more difficult start than I expected, but I’m very pleased that I could ride without really any mistakes even though she was focussed on more than just me. She’s still so eager to do what I want, but it’s more difficult to keep her steady and in the frame that I want because she gets a little excited.
“My hopes are big for her, but I want to take it slow and careful,” she added. “It’s a big responsibility to have such an ambitious horse and I want to treat that ambition well and give her good experiences. She is so soft and athletic and electric; she can do anything with her body.”
Vilhelmson Silfvén is planning to campaign Hyatt in some national grand prix classes to expose her to a wide variety of competition settings and build her confidence.
“I want to give her experience and for me to learn about her, like how long to warm up, how to go in, and what to do when she does that in the ring,” explained the seven-time Olympian. “We want to make smart choices with her. I like her a lot. Developing horses like this is what I live for — it’s so fun.”
Second place getter Ashley Holzer finished just 0.022 percentage points adrift of Vilhelmson Silfvén, riding PJ Rizvi’s Blue Hors Don Olymbrio son Hansel to 70.574%. The 11-year-old gelding took fright going around the edge and Holzer had to work diligently throughout the test to manage the powerful horse’s tension.
Hansel was consistently tight in the neck, did not produce a collected walk, and failed to find relaxation in the extended walk. The impressive liver chestnut gelding has very springy mechanics in piaffe and passage but was also overcollected in the passage work as Holzer pulled all the tools out of her bag to keep the lid on the cooker. Her 70.57% score was mind boggling and it was clear that judges were divided about this performance with 67.5% as the more realistic low score and 74.25% as the incredible high score for this challenging ride.
Australia’s Jemma Heran posted a new personal best of 70.319% aboard her own light-footed 15-year-old San Amour mare, Saphira Royal. They bagged third place, meaning that the podium finishers represented three different continents. The pair probably had the most harmonious test of all GP Special starters and her third place finish could easily have been a first.
One to watch is Canada's Camille Carier Bergeron who premiered her new Grand Prix horse Finnlanderin (by Fidertanz x Donnerhall) which she bought in The Netherlands in 2022. The combination presents a nice silhouette and consistent frame, but is still getting to know one another in the show ring. A bobble in the one tempi changes and one extended trot pushed the score down to 68.89% for fourth place.
-- Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED / NO SCREEN SHOTS (NO SOCIAL MEDIA SHARES UNLESS YOU BUY !)
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