Hong Kong Tuesday 19th August - Grand Prix Kür
Story and Pictures by Berni Saunders
The Judging Panel for this evening's final competition is is officiated by the following O level judges. At C Gotthilf Riexinger from Germany who is the President of the Ground Jury, At E is Leif Tornblad from Denmark, at M is the Japanese judge Minako Furuoka and at M is French Jean-Michel Roudier. Sitting in the box at B is Ghislain Gourage from The Netherlands. It is another very hot and humid evening in Hong Kong, but most agree that we are starting to acclimatise and the impact of the humidity is not so draining. The horses and riders would be feeling the same contrast stepping from the fully airconditioned facilities (including the indoor arena) to the outside competition venue. (I will feature a pictorial tour of the stables later on)
Natalie Zu Sayne - Wittgenstein and Digby are first to go in this medal deciding final. Digby oozes elegance and is the type that commands attention and this is not surprising as is by one of the all time greats, Donnerhall! Digby dances to the music of West Side Story which has been adapted by Stefan Krawzcyk. The music begins with a richly orchestrated rendition of "Tonight", but Digby does not want to dance and he veers off his line of travel and puts in a serious resistance. There are mistakes in the two times which were ridden to "America". and Digby is very tense and loses the bend in the half passes at the canter. The test is carefully ridden, I think this was a wise precaution as he seems ready to 'lose the plot'. "There's a Place for Us" is the theme behind the walk and this is quite nicely done. The canter work is very appealing to the catchy tune, " I Feel Pretty" this interpretation allows us to enjoy the flow of the test... and from a technical viewpoint, the quality of the changes improves this time. Digby seems to like this lighter music and the test has stepped up. "Maria" augments the piaffe and passage movements and this part of the test will push the marks up a little. For me, the beat of the music and the horse's paces were not enough in synch for an outstanding freestyle performance. They finished with an explosive extended trot up the centre line. West Side Story is an oft chosen theme for freestyle and my all time favourite is Anky's West Side Story compilation which Victor Kerhoff and Cees Slings arranged for her for Atlanta. Natalie scored 33.500 for her technical work and 35.600 for the artistic element and this gave them 69.100. Her Special ride scored 69.120 so the average of the two events is 69.110 and this sees Natalie finish in 15th place for the competition. This is a really good effort and Digby is one to watch for the future.
Natalie Zu Sayne - Wittgenstein riding Digby
Andreas Helgstrand and the magnificent Danish Stallion Don Schufro (by Donnerhall) performed their freestyle test to a musical selection from the modern era and these included The Rasmus, Guns and Roses,/Paradise City, Pink Floyd/The Wall and Stairway to Heaven. Their Kür begins well to a bold beat that invited this magnificent stallion into the arena and asked him to dance. The opening two times changes are done very well and right on the beat of the rock anthem which makes a statement about the character of the horse. Andreas does one times changes on a half circle and then progresses into a very nice extended canter. "Abra Cadabra I am Gona Reach Out and Grab Ya" ... is very catchy and suits the horse's footfalls well. But there is a little loss of rhythm and balance in the extended trot which will affect the technical score line. The passage work is exactly on the beat of the powerful music and really nicely done by Andreas. This test has lots of musicality and suits the powerful stallion very well. "Stairway to Heaven" is the choice of walk music and it is a lovely orchestrated version that suits the horse rhythm perfectly. Again the canter is well performed and I am sure that Andreas will be rewarded for the technical excellence of much his test. The choice of music along with the artistry of the choreography make Don Schufro's performance great to watch. The final piaffe and passage is done to "Another Brick in the Wall" and this will be a few more points for Andreas. They score 34.650 for the technical work and 37.900 for the artistic component to give 72.555 and when added to the score for the Grand Prix Special of 68.800 they finish with an aggregate score of 70.675 and 11th place.
Andreas is coming to Australia later in 2008 and for Dressage enthusiasts this will be another highlight of this year.
Andreas Helgstrand and Donschufro
Ashley Holzer is next to go and she rides the cute chestnut, Pop Art. Ashley chose music from the Soundtrack of Natural Treasure and Epcot Centre Disney World Fireworks soundtrack. Their test opens with bright music in the passage then onto piaffe, which is very well done. The lyrical music compliments this horse's lightness and perky character. It is a very inventive choice by Ashley and the full bodied orchestration lends to her performance, all of the drama and excitement of a Disney production - very well done! The one times changes are a little tight and this will affect the technical mark. But Pop Art presents wonderful half passes that are reaching and fluent and the music is exciting with many interesting percussion effects to change the tension and mood of the sounds. Ashley has a few rhythm problems in the passage, but the piaffe on the turn was a real show piece and entertaining ... which is what a freestyle is all about! Double canter pirouettes add to the artistic mark and are well done. They score 34.450 for the technical work and a very pleasing 37.000 for the artistic content giving them 71.450 for this test and added to the score for the special of 68.750 they finish with an aggregate of 70.105% and Canada can be proud.
Ashley Holzer riding Popart
Jan Brink on the gorgeous liver chestnut, Swedish stallion, Briar (by Magini) are in next. The music came from Helena Paparizo/My Number One, Antique/I Will Die for Araz/Temptation. The test opens with an oriental sound and passage on a small circle. It is a nice introduction to the explosive extended trot which shows Briar at his best. The technical aspects of the two trot half passes could have been a little better as the quarters trailed. Jan is using the centre line for the next piaffe and passage segments of the test The walk music is a nice backdrop and augments the quality and spacious feel of this horse's ground covering walk. The canter really picks up the beat and it is lovely music with some interesting middle eastern sounds. 1 1/2 rotations in the canter pirouettes that are nicely centred and keep a good rhythm in both directions are good for the artistic mark. The extended canter has a lot to like and they move on to more of the passage piaffe work which is also done quite well. The test is high energy, high impact and Jan is very pleased. He acknowledges his horse's good performance with a pat on the neck that says thankyou. It is a great score ... 35.150 for technical and 38.300 for artistic giving 73.450 for this performance. Add this score to the Special result of 68.960 and Jan ends his Olympic campaign with 71.205 and 10th place.
Jan Brink riding Briar
Tinne Silfven and Solos Carex are next to go and she has chosen music by the former Abba boys, Bjorn Ulveus and Benny Anderson from their soundtrack of Chess The supple bay gelding moves off into a very convincing extended trot on the centre line and then to the passage which is to music with a 'toe-taping' quality that gets the crowd involved. The piaffe at about L could have had more energy, but it kept the beat well. The trot half passes were pleasing and add to the elements that make for a first class freestyle test. Tinne produces a super transition from passage to extended walk and when done this well is not as easy as it looks! The horse is very nice in the walk segment of his test and the music augmented the artistry and flow. The canter elements of the test start well and include some nice patterns in the of footwork and a lovely beat which confirmed the talent of this horse - so all is good for Tinne. The canter pirouettes are a little conservative for this level, but they were safe and correct. The final piaffe is not really expressive enough to add anything to the test that will inspire high marks. Today's technical mark was 34.150 and the artistic, a pleasing 37.300 which gave them a total of 71.450 for today's performance and added to their score in the Special (69.240) makes a total score of 70.345 and 12th place overall.
Tinne Silfven riding Soloscarex
Following the arena break Emma Hindle and Lancet enter to ride their freestyle. Emma's music is titled "Jance" and is a collection of themes from the Bee Gees and Walter Murphy in an arrangement by Oliver Hahn. They open in passage/piaffe to very catchy interpretation of the "Saturday Nigh Fever" theme, "Staying Alive" but the technical execution of the passage is not perfect. Then, catchy music from "Fame" gets the next phase of the test going and the beat fits nicely with the extended trot. Back to "Staying Alive" with half passes in passage and these will add to the artistic mark and are nicely done. More Bees Gees for the walk and the musical choice is good. Double canter pirouettes performed nicely and enhanced by a modern musical theme which suits the horse in style and rhythm. Star Wars (I think?) makes an appearance. Emma loses the horse's quarters in the canter half passes and this will affect the technical mark. I like what she has done with the musical choices and choreography of this test, it is a solid freestyle and earns a technical mark of 36.050 and an artistic mark of 38.200 for a freestyle score of 74.250 which when added to the Special score of 70.440 give Emma an Olympic average of 72.345 and only a few short years ago this would have been a Gold medal performance. Today the British pair finished their Olympic ride in 7th place - so all good for the talented Emma Hindle.
Emma Hindle riding Lancet
Courtney King and Mythilus (by Ferro) have chosen music which is based around the Cat Stevens song "Sad Lisa". The inventive arrangement is by Marlene Whitaker and Mark Hagering. This is light 'tinkly' music and from the start suggests a more lyrical orchestration to highlight this horse's elegant and expressive movement - this is so nicely done and suits the style of horse very well. Electric violin and piano themes command attention and it is into a renvers on the centre line to add to the artistic presentation - I love this test! The step from passage to walk was exactly on the beat of the music and will impress the judges with lovely artistry and great timing. The extended walk wandered a little. They progress into canter and the music is powerfully dramatic. Mythilus loses balance and posture in the canter half passes across the diagonal lines. Courtney goes for double canter pirouettes, .but they are a little big and the horse becomes deep into the bridle which will cost them technical marks. The two times changes are nicely done on a curved line and the music fits well. Courtney appears to be trying for a half pass in passage but from a technical viewpoint, she does not pull it off, as the line of travel is difficult to decipher and muddled. But still, there was a lot to like about this freestyle test from a young rider with a great future. The technical score is 33.350 and the artistic mark was 36.200 giving a total for the freestyle today of 69.550. This was down a little on their mark of 70.800 for the Special and ends their Olympic campaign on 70.175 and 13th place. Courtney and Mythilus have a great future and we are sure to be seeing more of them.
Courtney King and Mythilis
Hans Peter Minderhoud and Nadine (by Partout) have given the dressage fraternity official notice that they are knocking at the door of the major rankings and have put together a very impressive Olympic campaign. Hans' music is titled "Happy Together" and is taken from pop tunes in an arrangement is by Joost Peters. It is a lovely light entry but the horse is not square in her first halt. The Carpenters huge hit, "Close to Him" is well received and this arrangement and unusual orchestration is really lovely ... and highlights Nadine's lightness and expression. This is a bright and appealing performance and Nadine is really wowing the crowd - she is dancing to the music and it is a bright and happy performance. The beautifully flowing trot half passes are performed to a more "rocky" beat and are really good. The walk music is the Carpenters, "It's Only Just Begun" - it seems that Hans likes the Carpenters! Nadine steps beautifully into the canter which is convincingly on the beat and provides some high scoring technical parts to the test. Double pirouettes and one times changes are very well done to a perfect choice of music - Hermans Hermits "No Milk Today" and "Turn. Turn Turn" (cannot remember the artist, but is in the same theme and era to the rest of the test) and the musical themes are all spliced together in a professionally produced freestyle compilation that was a highlight of the evening for me ... and judging by the rousing applause, many others in the crowd. The technical work was mostly good and the music highlighted the artistry and entertainment value of Hans' test. This was my favourite performance. The technical mark reflected a few errors and unbalanced steps and was 35.850 and the artistic score was 39.300 and this put them in 5th place tonight with 75.150 and this rise in the rankings lifted their 7th place in the Special on 70.920 to a 5th place for the Olympics with a combined score of 73.035.
Hans Peter Minderhoud ridng Nadine
Kyra Kyrklund and Max (by Master) are set to do a wonderful test. This is Kyra's 6th Olympic Games and she has a wealth of experience preparing freestyle tests along with the skill and confidence to ride for the highest degree of artistic appeal. I have heard this musical selection before and loved it so was looking forward to seeing it again. Kyra's music is titled "Max's Cabaret" and it is features selected pieces with a Parisienne vaudeville feel to the production. The music reworks original soundtracks and was recorded by 17 musicians who got together is a London studio and worked their magic on these well known tunes. The test opens with the distinctive voice of .Edith Piaffe singing "Cabaret". Then, "Money Makes the World Go Round" for the piaffe and passage and while technically, this is not really Max's strongest pace, all is forgiven because the music makes Kyra's performance so entertaining! Then on to a more up tempo rendition of "Cabaret for the trot - and we could be in Paris! There are all sorts of percussion sounds, just to keep us tuned in and wondering what is coming next, it is such fun. The dressage is sound and expressive. The walk picks up the a slower theme from the musical and Max's canter is just wonderful and to a really toe tapping tune. Kyra rides very good canter half passes, they sweep across the arena and are nicely balanced and fluid, she then puts in one of her famous, one handed canter pirouettes! This is a big plus for the artistic presentation of her test and delighted everyone. Max swings a little in the one times changes, but Kyra then repeats her one handed canter pirouette the other way. What a rider - we love her. There is a little reluctance on Max's part to commence the half passes in passage, but Kyra is able to encourage him without losing the musicality and harmony. The technical score for this test is 35.150 and the artistic mark is 39.100 giving a total score for the freestyle of 74.250. When added to the mark for the Special (69.720) puts Kyra into 8th position at the end of the competition.
Kyra Kyrklund riding Max
Bernadette Pujals and her imposing Vincent, a Hanoverian stallion is next and the music comes from Johannes Linstead's Mezza Luna, Vanessa Mae with Picante and Pachelbel's Canon. There is a misunderstanding to Pachelbel who partners Vincent's opening movement. The well known classic is hardly recognisable as this is a modernised arrangement and orchestration the Canon that has been chosen for the opening trot. There is a serious misunderstanding in the beginning of the work and Bernadette did very well to regain the horse's concentration and willingness as this seemed to be at risk for a while. Such a resistance will effect the harmony and mark for artistic impression. The walk and canter are done to modern Spanish influences and 1 1/2 turning canter pirouettes each way, are nicely done for good artistic effect. Vincent loses some self carriage and frame and this will detract from the overall marks both artistically and technically. But is it a solid performance and the imposing liver chestnut presented a very powerful and pleasing performance. They score 34.650 for the technical work and 37.700 for artistic merit for a freestyle total of 72.350. When added to the score of 71.000 in the Special, they end with an aggregate of 71.675 and 9th place.
Bernadette Pujals riding Vincent (above & below)
Another arena break and we are down to the top 5 horses ... tension is building.
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© Cyberhorse 2008 Berni Saunders