What a night....the stands were Totalis-ly packed...the fans were full of energy....and the freestyle night was just incredible! And that was just the impression about the workers up in the tower!!!!!!! NO, really,....the night was indeed incredible.....the freestyle is always the tour de force of any show, and this night truly lived up to that calling. As we progressed thru the night, the rides got better and better, the scores got higher and higher (even though it took some of the judges EONS to get them into the computer....I mean, it took a few of them (no name here) more than 4 minutes to finalize their marks....unacceptable at this type of show. We waited for at least 1/3 of the rider's scores over the normal time it takes). Moving on....
The rides were lovely and the different choices of music was really cool......we had classical, we had Sting singing vocals...we had a lot of Fiddler on the Roof (song and vocal) on our first ride of the night....different, but very effective for Peter Gmoser from Austria. Isabell Werth had a very powerful performance with Warum Nicht and she got the first 80.00 of the night...then we started getting closer to the top 5. Laura Bechtolsheimer and this terrific gelding Mistral Hojris continued their mastery of the arena here at the Games.....bold and energetic and great music...she just came in and owned the ring....what a week for the Brits.....she ended up 2nd and earned her 3rd silver medal, all in 1 week...The medal belonged to Totilas, but the crowd favorite was the Spaniard Juan Munoz Diaz on the PRE stallion Fuego XII...this little stallion, who turned in a lovely Grand Prix test on Monday, came in and just exploded into a terrific and very entertaining ride.....they started with a long piaffe and passage tour, and after settling, they just tore it up. The crowd went wild when he came down the centerline with a one handed series of flying changes, and then repeated it at the end...this little horse has a huge heart and shows it in his efforts to do well. He does not cover ground very far...but he is fairly correct, flashy, and does the job....Fun to watch, and Juan is very much a showman....when he finished he had a HUGE flourish taking off his hat, and doing so, spooked his horse, who leaped forward and almost dumped him at X! The audience just ate him up and when his scores were announced (by yours truly) of 81.4, the crowd booed...very loudly. One of the judges marked him considerably lower than the others and the fans did not like it...too bad, because he put in a very dramatic and fun test.
The Master and Commander, as I am now calling them came in and did not disappoint. Totilas was on form, was very strong in his performance, and Edward had him in a great position to maybe exceed his best score (London, 92.3) until a slight bobble after one of the extended trots across the ring....slight mistake, but then they turned it up and with the piaffe and passage movements being so strong, and very much used in the choreography, well, let me tell you...it was a thing of beauty. When they finished...the place erupted with a standing ovation and he got a 91.8. WEG history....the highest score ever in championship competition. Poor Steffen got the draw position next....how can you follow Totilas....if I got that draw, well I would have to just fall over and claim being hit by lightning or something!
Steffen and Ravel are such a different pair.....the two are so different in height, presence, movement, and to see them back to back must be very hard to judge. Steffan has very difficult choreography and such wonderful music......the home crowd showed their anchor rider another standing ovation and when it was over, the score of 84.85 (I think a career high) put them on the medal podium for the second night...go USA once again. Very emotional and patriotic....first individual medals in many years and Steffen now has two....good for all his support team, and of course his steadfast and loyal owner, Akiko. Well done.
I got a great thought last night about 2 in the AM -sleep does not come easy here at WEG 2010.....and after getting it approved....I brought Edward into the ring with me and via a wireless mic, I did a quick interview (at the end of the class, before the awards) and mostly thanked him for what he has done for the Dressage sporting scene...he has taken dressage to such new levels of greatness, and has brought his fellow Grand Prix riders along too. He has established a new higher bar for our sport, and we are so proud and excited to have been along with him and Totilas during this journey. I hope our Master and Commander can continue to take us to new highs and allow us to continue to join him (and others) on this incredible trip...climb on board,,,,,,next stop.........????
It's very late, my glass of wine is gone, and I have to run the cross county control for eventing early tomorrow. It has been a magnificent week and I am so proud to have been a part of it....I think we all hit the Grand Slam home run......all of us.