The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud steered Glock’s Flirt to victory in the Grand Prix as the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016 Final got underway at the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg, Sweden today. But the host nation contenders were hot on the heels of the Dutch duo, with Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Don Auriello just 0.371 percentage points behind in second place and Patrik Kittel just 0.1 point further adrift in third with the veteran Watermill Scandic.
Minderhoud knows he will have to do it all again in Sunday’s Freestyle if, at his sixth attempt, he is to take the coveted Reem Acra title at last. But it will be no easy task for the 42-year-old Dutchman and his 15-year-old gelding because, as today’s result clearly demonstrated, there is very little separating the leading combinations in the 18-strong field.
Denmark’s Agnete Kirk Thinggaard and Jojo AZ got the competition off to a great start with a test that earned 73.343, but it was Vilhelmson-Silfven who set the real target when, third to go with Don Auriello, she posted 76.500 which really put it up to the rest of them. The six-time Olympian and her 14-year-old gelding presented a picture of elegance as always, Don Auriello showing off his trademark extended trot and elevated passage and piaffe to great effect.
It wasn’t until Jessica von Bredow-Wendl and Unee BB, third-place finishers at the 2015 Reem Acra Final in Las Vegas, USA set off just after the judging break that anyone came close to that, scoring 75.257 when tenth to go. But from the moment Minderhoud entered the arena with Glock’s Flirt it was clear they were going to produce something special. With calm concentration the chestnut horse set about his work to reset the target score at 76.871 to take command with just three more to follow them into the arena. The show was far from over yet however.
When it comes to showmen there are few better than Sweden’s Patrik Kittel, and although the crowd went wild with excitement as they arrived into the arena when last to go, the 39-year-old rider and his 17-year-old horse just took it all in their stride to post 76.400 which would slot them neatly into third place.
Kittel said afterwards that he wasn’t in the least bit bothered by the noise of the crowd, despite a little spook from Scandic before they began their test. “I love it actually!” he said, “the excitement just makes for good sport - when people are happy that is great and we want the spectators to clap us - we are happy when they clap! But when I ride the test they stop and it is quiet again and I love that too. I would rather have all the noise and excitement because it makes for a great competition. And of course we have a top audience here and Gothenburg is a great show!” he added.
Second-placed Vilhelmson-Silfven said she was “super-happy” with Don Auriello today but admitted that she had “a shaky start! He (Don Auriello) wouldn’t stand still in the halt and then he just cantered off so that gives you something to think about! Am I preparing wrong or something? I was scared at first that I was not where I should be at the beginning but it all came together in the end” she explained.
Kittel talked about Watermill Scandic who certainly belies his age and who continues to be as enthusiastic as ever. “He is in really good shape at 17 years old. I wonder will he quiet down but he loves his work and he was like this when he was 7 years old so I don’t think he will never change. I love him for that! I ride him a week to 10 days before a competition but he is like a professor, he knows what he has to do, I don’t have to tell him - he is really clever. He has done so many grand prix events in his life and it is a great feeling when he is like that. He has always been like that since he was born!” the Swedish athlete pointed out.
Minderhoud meanwhile was reflecting this evening on his performance and on the possibility of making the Reem Acra title his own. “I know if I want to win then here is my chance” he said. “I was very happy with my ride today, my horse was very good super concentrated. We had a small thing with a pirouette but I rode him as I wanted to ride him. However Sunday is a new day and with the Swedish in the form they showed today then I have to give everything to make it happen! he added.
Result: 1, Glock’s Flirt (Hans Peter Minderhoud) NED 76.871; 2, Don Auriello (Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven) SWE 76.500; 3, Watermill Scandic (Patrik Kittel) SWE 76.400; 4, Unee BB (Jessica von Bredow-Werndl) GER 75.257; 5, Donnperignon (Anna Kasprzak) DEN 74.729; 6, Mister X (Inessa Merkulova) RUS 73.957; 7, D’Agostino FRH (Fabienne Lutkemeier) GER 73.741; 8, Jojo AZ (Agnete Thinggaard) DEN 73.343; 9, Vancouver K (Judy Reynolds) IRL 73.000; 10, Smeyers Molberg (Marcela Krinke Susmelj) SUI 72.343; 11, Kastel’s Nintendo (Charlotte Jorst) USA 71.114; 12, Sandro Boy (Lyndal Oatley) AUS 70.943; 13, Rubicon D (Beata Stremler) POL 70.371; 14, Miata (Emilie Nyrerod) SWE 69.800; 14, Zero Gravity (Gunter Seidel) USA 69.800; 16, Umbro (Mary Hanna) AUS 67.929; 17, Axis TSF (Terhi Stegars) FIN 67.114; 18, Kartsevo Upperville) RUS 66.886.
Facts and Figures:
- The Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016 Final began today at the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg where The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud came out on top with Glock’s Flirt.
- A total of 18 horse-and-rider combinations competed, and Swedish riders Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (Don Auriell) and Patrik Kittel (Watermill Scandic) finished second and third.
- The panel of judges consisted of: At K, Irina Maknami (RUS); At E, Mariette Sanders van Gansewinkel (NED); At H, Susan Hoevenaars (AUS); At C, Susanne Baarup (DEN); At M, Evi Eisenhardt (GER); At B, Anne Gribbons (USA); At F, Gustav Svalling (SWE).
- Hans Peter Minderhoud’s winning score was 76.871, while only 0.1 percentage points separated Vilhelmson-Silfven (76.500) and Kittel (76.400) in second and third places.
- Hans Peter Minderhoud has competed at six European Championships including the 2015 edition in Aachen, Germany last summer where, partnering Glock’s Johnson, he helped The Netherlands claim team gold.
- The Dutch rider has also competed at three FEI World Equestrian Games and the Olympic Games in Hong Kong in 2008.
- This is Minderhoud’s sixth FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final. He finished fifth at the 2015 edition in Las Vegas, USA with Glock’s Flirt.
- The Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016 title will be decided by Sunday’s Freestyle competition.
Susanne Baarup DEN (Judge at C): “It was a fantastic competition today.. The atmosphere in the arena was very tense and the audience was very enthusiastic. On paper it was an open competition, and the results show the riders are very, very close in the top. We had eight riders in the prizegiving with scores between 73.3 and 76.8. Sunday in the Freestyle will be open again, and very exciting!”
Hans Peter Minderhoud NED (1st): “My horse (Glock’s Flirt) is in great form and feels good in the arena here. He’s a hard worker and he doesn’t want to make mistakes - I’m really looking forward to the Freestyle on Sunday now!”
FEI World Cup™ Dressage, the only worldwide series in this discipline, is now in its 30th season. The series, created in 1985, comprises four leagues: Western European, Central European, North American (including Canada) and Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, Asia). Each FEI World Cup™ Dressage qualifier consists of a Grand Prix test, which in turn is a qualification for the Freestyle to Music competition, where league points are accumulated towards places in the Final. Judged on both technical and artistic merit, the FEI World Cup™ Dressage combines art, sport and partnership between horse and rider at the highest level and consistently proves a winning formula with audiences all over the world.
The complete rules, calendar, updated ranking and results are available here