Plenty of excitement in Olympic dressage
By Claartje van Andel dressagedirect
It’s Olympic time and that means excitement. The Grand Prix Special tonight had it all: unexpected moves, excitement, strange mistakes. The two queens of dressage Anky van Grunsven and Isabell Werth decided to bring the excitement back in the competition. For tonight Isabell Werth was the winner. However the margin of 0,24% is small and easy to overcome in a Freestyle score. In three days the Freestyle will decide the Olympic individual medals.
Tonight Anky van Grunsven was the first to go of the two. “Salinero was totally relaxed and a ease in the warming up until the Chinese drums woke him up. In my test I noticed his oversensitive reactions on my aids. I just wanted to lead him smoothly in the half pass trotting to the left when he cantered twice. ‘Shit’ I thought. When I tried to get my points up and ride the two tempi changes a little bigger for a higher mark, I had another mistake. He was as hot as can be! The climate doesn’t seem to get him really down. I was happy with his final halt. But thought, oke, that’s it. No gold this time.”
However ‘shit’ came also up in Isabell’s mind. She rode a splendid test and was at an average percentage of 88% after the first part with the half passes, extensions and passage, when suddenly Satchmo seemed to remember his behaviour of the past. In the first piaffe he suddenly scared, shied and jumped almost out of the arena. It took Isabell completely by surprise. “I have to look it back on the video what frightened him, I have not the slightest idea. Flowers, a camera, I don’t know. I have just tried to get him back on track as quick as possible for the next exercise. It ruined my advantage of about 5% on Anky’s score, that’s for sure. We’ll see what Tuesday will bring!”
Excitement back in the competition: Isabell Werth and Satchmo All pictures by Ken Braddick HorseSportUSA
Heike Kemmer is the one that had the most fluent and faultless tests, that’s for sure. It brought her today to her own surprise at the bronze medal position. “The most important with this horse is the soft going and suppleness in his body. His is not like my other horses impressive because of his power, but on the contrary because of his soft and smooth way of going”, Heike commented.
There was only one problem and that was that she had not respected the 45 second rule to enter the arena in time. Chair Furuoka said at the press conference that she didn’t feel that the one second over the time allowed had to be punished with -2. This made the American team chef react with an official protest.
Heike Kemmer aboard Bonaparte very fluent and smooth, however an American protest was made
Nice surprises were there with the most fluent test of Mexican Bernadette Pujals and Vincent and Russian Alexandra Korelova aboard Balagur. The scores of riders three to nine are all over 70% and close, so anything will be possible in three days time.
No mistakes, this dreamhorse for Alexandra Korelova who understands it all and brought his rider to fifth place
Not all horses were as hot as others. “Crazy how these animals try for you, it’s unbelievable”, Canadian Ashley Holzer said of her Dutch warmblood Pop Art. “I almost felt ashamed of myself to ask for more in the arena”, Danish Anne van Olst agreed. Pop Art is the last horse to enter the Freestyle to music. “The bodies of the horses are definitely affected by the big trip to Hong Kong and the humidity, but they all try for us so hard. I am so fortunate to have him!”, Ashley summarized.
“Crazy how these animals try for you, it’s unbelievable”, Canadian Ashley Holzer said of her Dutch warmblood Pop Art
Mexico's Bernadette Pujals gave it everything she had with her handsome 16-year old stallion Vincent whose passage and piaffe were full of life, and the 40-year old Spanish-born rider asked for a fearless extended canter toward the end of her test. Her brave effort was rewarded with a mark of 71.000% and there was a poignant moment as she struggled with tears after leaving the ring because her mother died just 20 days ago. "It's difficult to say how I feel," she said quietly.
Mexican Bernadette Pujals who surprised aboard Vincent at the WEG 2006 now did a very solid Grand Prix Special test and will put her best effort in the Freestyle now
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