Edward Gal Wins Grand Prix at the 2005 World Cup Finals

Friday, April 22, 2005
Posted by bossmare

By Charlene Strickland

The murmurs of appreciation escalated as through Edward Gal's ride. By his canter pirouettes, appreciation was a buzz throughout the Thomas and Mack arena. When he turned Geldnet Lingh down the centerline for the final passage, the 10,000 spectators could barely control their excitement.

Lingh's test showed a talented horse exquisitely ridden. Even before the bell rang, Lingh showed off an excellent piaffe. His movement was uphill, with true engagement in the piaffe.

The judge's marks, displayed on the arena's four-sided “Jumbotron” video screen, reflected the quality of the test. The 9's started immediately, in collected canter, and Lingh earned straight 8's in passage and transitions. Along with impulsion, he displayed willingness to respond to Gal, despite the arena's electric atmosphere.

Gal admitted he was nervous seeing the crowd when he entered through the Budweiser gate. “When I started riding, it felt really good. He was responding to small aids.”

He added, “Even in my pirouettes, I could hear the crowd say, 'Wow,” so I thought, 'That must be good!' At the end, on the centerline, I started smiling. For me, it felt so good already.”

Only a tense walk marred Gal's test, with the pirouettes the real crowd pleasers. After his salute, Gal leaned forward to rub Lingh's crest, obviously thrilled with his Dutch stallion and the score of 78.625.

Edward Gal Wins Grand Prix at the 2005 World Cup Finals

Turnabout for the Teacher

In Las Vegas, Gal bested his friend and teacher, Anky Van Grunsven. They didn't ride together on the Dutch team at the 2004 Olympics, which Gal missed due to his horse's lameness. She won the individual gold medal there, and in Las Vegas, Gal took the blue ribbon.

Van Grunsven joked about Gal being “impolite” about winning the class. “He asked me to help—I helped, I did it for free. So I told him he's going to get a bill!” Her horse, Keltec Salinero, took second with 78.00—not even a point more than Gal.

In the start order, Van Grunsven had drawn last to go, right behind Gal. The crowd had cheered local hero Debbie McDonald, second to ride just after 1:00 PM. When Salinero entered the arena three hours later, expectations were high.

The Dutch gelding displayed superior activity at the trot, with lofty action in knee and hock. His elegance in piaffe earned the only 10 awarded that day, along with plenty of 9's.

Van Grunsven admitted to “a big mistake in the one tempis.” Her horse didn't complete the 15 required changes, which dropped her score. “Salinero can do better than this, but I was very pleased with my ride.”

The Grand Prix is the qualifier for the Freestyle, which is the single class to determine the champion at the World Cup. “Everyone rides the same test, so you can evaluate them,” said judge Marianne Withages. She emphasized the importance of the Grand Prix as a “classical test.”

Edward Gal Wins Grand Prix at the 2005 World Cup Finals

U.S. Secures Four Rides for Freestyle

Three weeks ago, Debbie McDonald returned Brentina to competition in Los Angeles. In Las Vegas, she zoomed to the top of the leaderboard with 75.958—and held that spot till Gal's ride at 4:00 PM.

Brentina excelled in transitions, in harmony with McDonald. She was in tune with her rider, with complete agreement to every request. Her regular paces in piaffe and passage gained her points over horses with more extravagant movement.

“She's back in top form and stronger than ever,” said McDonald about her mare. The pair may have a slight advantage, due to their dressage demonstrations at both the 2000 and 2003 World Cup Finals held in the Thomas and Mack arena.

The three other U.S. riders qualified for the Freestyle. Robert Dover placed right after McDonald, with 75.625. Riding his Olympic mount, FBW Kennedy, he also earned several 9's on his ride.

Dover was 13th in the order, but luck didn't apply to his first-class test. The chestnut gelding showed with distinction his rhythmic trot, excellent piaffe, and flowing transitions. Viewed from seats high in the arena, Kennedy demonstrated straightness in his position—from this angle, some other horses looked crooked on the long sides during their tests.

Leslie Morse was fifth to ride, the second of the four U.S. riders. She showed a strong test on her Dutch stallion, Kingston (72.792). He continues to improve, showing his lofty canter and powerful trot.

Aragon was 11th in the start order with Guenter Seidel. His flowing, relaxed trot and smooth transitions helped him to a score of 71.125. Like Salinero, he missed a change in the one-tempis. However, the slow-motion video replay of Aragon in piaffe earned huge applause from the crowd, especially when announcer Brian O'Connor praised “this beautiful slow motion of passage and piaffe.”

Photos copyrighted: Tetleyphoto.com

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