Morse Tops Prix St. Georges with Tip Top at Mid Winter Dressage CDI

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Prix St. Georges launched the CDI-W-Los Angeles, with two 10-year-olds placing first and second. Leslie Morse, Beverly Hills, rode her Swedish stallion Tip Top 962 to top the 10-horse field.

“He was really on my aids—soft and supple,” she said of her test. She named the four-tempis as the highlight. “They were super."

"Today I was really happy because he was very loose, not tight. I made him longer, looser, and more elastic.”

She's had the bay Master son for a year. He was previously with Kyra Kyrklund in Sweden, and is an approved breeding stallion. Morse praised Tip Top's talent for collected work. “He has a huge ability to sit on his hocks and propel himself. He comes out every day and wants to work.”

Second in the Prix St. Georges went to Steffen Peters on Marlando, owned by Lila Kommerstad. Peters said he rode a conservative test. “He's got so much forward energy. We're still trying to control that.”

He started working with the bay Dutch gelding as a three-year-old. “There was a long time we couldn't show him. He still needs to get more confidence.”

Californian Premier of Electronic Score Board at Mid Winter Dressage CDI

The show's spectators enjoyed a welcome addition to the Equidome in the Los Angeles Equestrian Center: an electronic scoreboard with immediate, movement-by-movement scores. The scoreboard was installed by Ed Sauer of Equiview, used last year at Devon.

Everyone can see every judge's mark for each movement—and everyone can instantly note any variations in the judging.

Judges realize they are now “onstage,” and definitely accountable for their marks. During the test, riders can be distracted by seeing their scores.

Jan Ebeling commented, “You see the score—and you say to yourself, 'I can make that better!'”

Along with the scoreboard, Fox Village debuted Wi-Fi access to all logged scores. Anyone in the Equidome can view any test scored on a Wi-Fi-enabled PC or PDA.

“It's all new,” said Pete Jorgensen of Fox Village. “This is the first time the scoreboard linked to the scores.” Both the scoreboard and Wi-Fi access will be used at the Olympic Trials in June.

Brentina Returns for 2004

America's dressage superstar proved herself again in the first round for the US Freestyle Championship, the Grand Prix. Debbie McDonald rode the mare to a decisive first place, scoring 77.375 in the pair's eagerly-awaited return.

“Our last show was Aachen,” said McDonald. “That was a long time ago.”

Before her ride, she admitted she was very nervous about the class. Brentina's surgery last August sidelined her for six weeks, and she made only one public outing, an exhibition in Toronto, until this championship.

Judge's marks in the first few movements of Brentina's test matched the conservative start to the ride. McDonald began asking more in the first piaffe, and the mare responded with her typical accuracy—and a new vigor.

“I'm getting used to riding a different horse with a lot more energy,” said McDonald. She added, “We moved down here [Southern California] for the season, so the mare isn't traveling from Idaho to California.” She does plan to travel to the World Cup in Germany, and then compete in June's Olympic Trials.

In an emotional awards presentation, both John Long, the US Equestrian Federation CEO, and McDonald shared the microphone. Long handed McDonald the Grand Prix award, expressing his awe: “I never before saw the two of you together.” Through her tears, McDonald replied, “It's a little overwhelming for me.”

Nikolaus 7, first to go in the class, ended second with 72.125. He performed brilliantly for Guenter Seidel and displayed forward energy and impulsion. “I was very happy with him,” said Seidel. Standouts in his test were the extended canter and smooth transitions.

German judge Uwe Mechlem noted, “It was a great pleasure for me to judge this competition of a very high standard. It was of a very high European standard.”

He also praised the quality of the horses in the small tourn. “I saw horses with a good future, with good basics. And they have the talent to come to the top.”

In the CDI Grand Prix, Leslie Reid and Mark earned the top score (70.25). The winner of the individual gold medal at the 2003 Pan-American Games, Mark showed his talent for Grand Prix. His active gaits earned him plenty of 8s from the judges, and a hearty ovation from the spectators. Leslie Morse and Tip Top 962 scored 70.167 to win the CDI Intermediate I.

On the Road to the 2004 World Cup in Dusseldorf
By Charlene Strickland

Debbie McDonald and Guenter Seidel—and most likely Leslie Morse—will travel to Germany this week, to prepare to represent the U.S. at the 2004 World Cup in Dusseldorf. McDonald’s McDonald proved again her solid partnership with Brentina to win the Grand Prix Freestyle Sunday. The pair skillfully performed complex choreography to a medley of Gershwin tunes, earning a second standing ovation for the weekend.

“Definitely, she’s a different horse, now that she can breathe better,” said McDonald about the mare’s recovery from last year’s surgery. “I was disappointed in myself today, because I was so nervous at first.”

Brentina’s score was 83.325, with U.S. judge Anne Gribbons awarding an 86.50. “The marks say a lot,” said German judge Uwe Mechlem. “All riders adjusted the degree of difficulty to the ability of the horse.”

Seidel showed both Nikolaus 7 and Aragon, and will take both to Germany. He said, “We leave Wednesday to show at Dortmund first, and then the World Cup.” U.S. riders will train at coach Klaus Balkenhol’s barn between the two shows.

Leslie Morse on Kingston was second to McDonald (78.975). She matched the stallion’s movement to music from The Pirates of the Caribbean. “I designed the freestyle to his abilities,” she said.

Kingston hadn’t been as active in the previous day’s Grand Prix. Morse said, “We made sure he rested well, and we had a good talk with him about the importance of today.”

Mechlem praised the riders, saying, “Some of the Kurs were almost perfect, without technical mistakes.” He added, “They can go to Europe, and show what’s there.

In the CDI, Canada’s Leslie Reid and Mark repeated their Grand Prix win for the Special. The Dutch gelding scored 71.0.

Reid described his talents as his smoothness and his cool character. “He is a bit deceiving—he’s that sensitive that you have to be careful. He tries too hard, and sneezes when he gets anxious.”

She’s aiming Mark to the summer’s Olympic squad. She called him “an absolute jewel. It’s hard to find the ones that have the talent and the character.”