Riding her freestyle from the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Sue Blinks and Flim Flam won the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI at the WEF Dressage Classic CDI*** held March 14-17 in Wellington, Florida. Blinks said she hasn’t made any changes to her kur since the Games, but that she rode it better in this class than she did at the Olympics. She earned a 77.700%, while at the Olympics she scored 74% for the ride.
Though Flim Flam spooked at the first corner after the salute, Blinks rode through the disruption. "It’s very much like him, so I’m real used to it. It doesn’t change my concentration. I just lost some time so I had to try to catch up with my music again. That’s what I focussed in on." But she did not adlib to her choreography. "I just cut some corners."
The music for Blinks’s kur is from Cirque de Soleil and was composed by Eric Aubery and Rene Dupere. Aubery writes and produces music for films, and kurs – he is Grand Prix dressage rider Nancy Polozker’s fiancé. When Blinks was creating her kur for the Olympics, she asked him for help. "He came up with the Cirque de Soleil music because it’s written for live performance."
In parts of the kur, the hoof beats and the beat of the music are exactly the same. "I taped the horse and then Eric chose the music according to the horse. When you do that sort of thing, you can, in micro bits, change the rhythm of the music to fit the horse. Basically he wrote it to suit the horse’s gaits and then it’s my job to keep him at that beat."
Blinks said she doesn’t consider her freestyle a difficult routine to perform but attributes the high scores to how she uses the kur to highlight Flim Flam’s best movements. "The idea of a freestyle is to accentuate the horse’s strengths, so that’s my purpose. His one time changes are really straight so I ride a ‘bazillion’ of them right at the judges." She includes another of Flim Flam's strengths at the end, a very long piaffe segment. "He can piaffe forever, basically, when it’s right, so I tried to stay there for a really long time to accentuate that that’s easy for him. The music accentuates his flowing, regal sort of way."
Blinks was the last rider to go in the freestyle line-up, and George Williams (Rocher, 72.15%, 2nd place) and Lynda Alicki (Impressario, 70.975%, 3rd place) had high scores before her. However, Blinks felt no pressure from that perspective. "When I compete I don’t have any idea what anybody else has done. I just ride for my best ride. It’s irrelevant information to me. I don’t even know what’s going on. I don’t compete against other people. In my mind, I compete against the standard of where I want to be."
Her standard for this particular class was affected by how Flim Flam handled himself when he was obviously in an excitable state, especially following his shying at the start of the test. "I was really, really pleased with how honest he was in there. He was obviously a little bit more affected than some days by the crowd and he really, really tried his heart out for me. That was great."
Judge Goetz Weber-Stefan, an ‘O’ judge from Germany commented on Blinks’s ride. "It was a wonderful test. In the beginning it was a little bit critical because the horse was a tiny little bit nervous because the music was quite loud in the beginning. But after this critical point, it was a wonderful test. I gave her lots of 8s and 9s for flying changes. They were absolutely straight and jumped from behind over the back to the front. Wonderful!"
During the awards ceremony, Flim Flam was keyed up and the announcer repeatedly asked the audience not to applaud too loudly. Blinks did not ask him to participate in the victory lap. "I think he was amazed at how many people were there," said Blinks. But she is not concerned with her super mount’s excitability. "He’s 15 years old. He’s been working in front of crowds for a long, long time. He’s been to the World Games and to the Olympics. I’m accepting it by now – it’s just the way he’s going to be. It’s not going away."
Blinks and Flim Flam also won the FEI Grand Prix CDI on the opening day of the show with a 70.480%. Next stop for this duo is a warm-up show, then on to USET Headquarters in Gladstone for the Selection Trials for the World Equestrian Games. She will use the same freestyle, but says, "I may tweak it a little bit."