Editor's note: DressageDaily has been following the quest of one American rider in Europe to compete for the United States at the Las Vegas World Cup Final for Dressage. Whatever the decision to select a wild card for the USA, we wish her well, and thank her for keeping us up to date in spite of her busy life. Here's Catherine flipping pancakes the morning after! Mary Phelps
"To all of you hopeful dressage competitors out there, think about this: I sat in the stands (watching) at last year's World Cup Final in Amsterdam. That was one year ago. This year, I RODE the final in Europe! And I made the top 12!! Yes." Catherine Haddad
Hello to Everyone! Mary has been after me for months to write a "dish" about my travels and experiences on the World Cup Tour this winter in Europe. I had a lot of stories to tell and wanted to share everything but had a really hard time finding a single quiet moment to sit at the computer and write this. Now it is the morning after Den Bosch and the Western European League Final. I have nothing on my agenda today except for cooking pancakes at noon for the whole group of friends who surprised me with a "victory" party last night.
Firstly, THANK YOU to all my fans and supporters who wrote to me over the winter with congrats and encouragement. I hope you were all satisfied with the one line emails I sent in return! Sorry I couldn't spend more time on the replies. Sometimes when I get home from a show the "Inbox: 365 messages" sign on the computer just makes me turn a strange shade of blue.
Secondly, Maximus was in true Gladiator form for the final at Den Bosch. I'm so happy that we were so well prepared because I got to the show, looked at the starting list after the draw, and had to sit down for a minute or two. I've competed against Europe's best all winter at every qualifier but I've never been up against all these great riders IN THE SAME COMPETITION! Whew. Maixmus pulled off 67.9% in the Grand Prix for 11th place. I have never experienced such a wave of relief in my whole life! Only 15 riders could qualify for the Final and we made it.
I wasn't very happy with Grand Prix test--mostly because I let Maximus pull it off without much help from me. Our routine paid off in that we made no mistakes and put in our usual reliable performance. But we are both better than that and I just didn't make it happen. Too conservative! Not enough trust, not enough GO! Darn it. It was the Indian, not the Arrow.
On Top of Her Game in The Netherlands
So I got back on top of my game for the Freestyle and we both put in a stellar performance to new choreography and a re-arrangement of the Gladiator music. I won't say too much about the politics of World Cup riding here--I certainly learned a lot about that over the winter--but starting positions are always drawn in 3 groups of five for the final freestyle and if you don't get qualified with your Grand Prix score in the top group, you are going to stay in your starting group for the final placing. That is just a fact and it held true at Den Bosch.
Anyway, second to start in the field of 15 for the Freestyle, and Maximus rose to the occasion. That was the best piaffe/passage tour I ever rode in competition. We worked hard for that and I am proud of my horse! It is a great feeling to know that your training and planning are paying off.
We fínished 12th in the Final. I was ecstatic all the way home! To all of you hopeful dressage competitors out there, think about this: I sat in the stands (watching) at last year's World Cup Final in Amsterdam. That was one year ago. This year, I RODE the final in Europe! And I made the top 12!! Yes.
The best part of the outcome is that Maximus is not only fit, sound and happy...he is ready to go again. I'm feeling the effects of that powerful rum punch from last night's party, but he is ready for the next show...which we hope is Las Vegas.
I tried that out as a mantra early this morning, "Veh Gas, Veh Gas, Veh Gas..." but decided that the Buddha would not approve of my attachment to worldly success. :-) So I'm back to chanting for the health and happiness of all the animals and people in my life.
Photo: Catherine Haddad and Maximus JSS Training recently in Germany with USET team Coach, Klaus Balkenhol
On to the World Cup! Maximus and I hoping for a wildcard. The FEI will decide on Tuesday who is deserving of those special tickets and I hope, hope, hope that we will be chosen. I think our chances are promising. Four of the top twelve Europeans have decided against making the trip. Two more are waffling... The winner of another league has also declined so one more wildcard spot is open... I think we have a chance!
Flight date is April 14. Deep breath.
Best of luck and success to my fellow riders in Burbank next weekend! I am ssssoooo happy to finish the qualifications over here and take a few days off after 6 months of intense competition. I wish you all the best for the US League Final. I'm there with you in spirit and hope to see everyone soon.
Going to eat pancakes now, Catherine
Results - S'Hertobenbosch Grand Prix - CDI-W
1. Isabell Werth - Warum Nicht FRH - 77.208 (Germany)
2. Andreas Helgstrand - Blue Hors Matine - 75.708 (Denmark)
3. Silvia Ikle - Salieri CH - 73.833 (Switzerland)
4. Jan Brink - Bjorsells Briar - 73.208 (Sweden)
5. Kyra Kyrklund - Max - 72.666 (Finland)
6. Edward Gal - Gribaldi - 70.541 (Holland)
7. Hubert Perring - Diabolo St Maurice - 70.083 (France)
8. Louise Nathhorst - Guinness - 69.291 (Sweden)
9. Nathalie Zu Saeyn Wittgenstein - Rigoletto - 68.958 (Denmark)
10. Laura Bechtolsheimer - Douglas Dorsey - 68.250 (England)
11. Catherine Haddad - Maximus - 67.916 (USA)
12. Alex van Silfhout - Olympus - 67.375 (Holland)
13. Jeroen Devroe - Paganini - 66.166 (Belgium)
13. Marlies van Baalen - Relevant - 66.166 (Holland)
15. Wayne Channon - Lorenzo CH - 63.291 (England)
16. Matthew Dowsley - Cinderella - 62.000 (Australia)
17. Patrick van der Meer - Ogami - 61.583 (Holland)
18. Dominique D'Esme - Roi de Coeur - 60.541 (France)
Laurens van Lieren - Hexagon's Olright - DNS (Holland)
Grand Prix Freestlye
1. Isabell Werth - Warum Nicht FRH - 82.40 (Germany)
2. Andreas Helgstrand - Blue Hors Matine - 81.65 (Denmark)
3. Silvia Ikle - Salieri CH - 79.60 (Switzerland)
4 Kyra Kyrklund - Max - 76.55 (Finland)
5. Edward Gal - Gribaldi - 76.30 (Holland)
6. Jan Brink - Bjorsells Briar - 76.20 (Sweden)
7. Laura Bechtolsheimer - Douglas Dorsey - 74.10 (England)
8. Louise Nathhorst - Guinness 888- 73.75 (Sweden)
9. Hubert Perring - Diabolo St Maurice - 71.95 (France)
10. Nathalie Zu Saeyn Wittgenstein - Rigoletto - 70.60 (Denmark)
11. Jeroen Devroe - Paganini - 70.15 (Belgium)
12. Catherine Haddad - Maximus JSS- 70.00 (USA)
13. Alex van Silfhout - Olympus - 68.10 (Holland)
14. Marlies van Baalen - Relevant - 66.166 (Holland)
15. Wayne Channon - Lorenzo CH - 66.40 (England)
16. Matthew Dowsley - Cinderella - 66.05 (Australia)