Dutch rider, Hans Peter Minderhoud, was in reflective mood after winning the opening leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage series in Odense, Denmark on Sunday afternoon with the 11 year old chestnut stallion, IPS Tango.
He has his sights firmly set on a place at the series final in 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands next April along with a spot at the London Olympic Games, but he knows he has a lot of work to do to get there.
It is a very different story for the Dutchman who enjoyed such a long and fruitful partnership with the great mare, Exquis Nadine, who was retired during the FEI European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam this summer. He is now working with a horse that is something of a “work in progress” rather than super-experienced, but he was delighted with his result today. “I'm not suprised that he won” the Dutchman said afterwards, “my horse is in good shape – even yesterday when we finished third in the Grand Prix. He is really coming along” he added.
Runner-up was Germany's Helen Langehanenberg with the aptly-named Responsible, while yesterday's Grand Prix winner, Tinne Vilhelmsson Silfven from Sweden, slotted into third with Don Auriello. “He is only nine years old and in his first year competing in Grand Prix” she said of her horse. “Perhaps he was a bit tired compared with yesterday, but I am very pleased with third place” the Swedish rider added.
One of the happiest performances of the day was the one produced by Norway's Siril Helljesen and Dorino who finished fourth. Their score of 75.525 was the target at the half-way stage of the 15-horse competition and held sway until the last five took their turn.
First to oust her from pole position was Minderhoud with his son of Jazz. The 38 year old rider was determined to improve on his Grand Prix performance. “Tango was scared of the sunlight coming through the curtains at the in-gate yesterday – it was windy and spooky, and he didn't settle. He took a long time to enter the arena, and in the first part of the test he turned right around on me! Before the changes he became totally blocked – I was very eager to ensure he got his confidence back today” he pointed out.
That he did, passing through the curtains without comment this afternoon, and producing some lovely passage and extended trot along with good transitions on his way to a mark of 79.300. “We had little mistakes in the changes, but I thought we would score about 80 per cent so I was very happy with him” Minderhoud said of the horse who has such big boots to fill now that Nadine is retired.
Vilhelmsson Silfven's score of 75.925 moved her, temporarily, into second place but, second-last to go, it was Langehanenberg's performance with Responsible that proved the biggest challenge to the Dutchman's lead. The German rider was runner-up in yesterday's Grand Prix, and was delighted to repeat that placing today. Together, she and her 12 year old black mare displayed energy and confidence, earning a score of 9.5 from one of the judging panel for lovely extended trot and finishing with a mark of 78.3. “Responsible was a bit quick today, so I got a bit ahead of the music – but I am very, very happy to get two second-place finishes in the World Cup!” Langehanenberg insisted.
Minderhoud earned the maximum 20 qualifying points as today's winning rider, but it is Vilhelmson Silfven who heads the leaderboard going into the second leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage series at Lyon in France next weekend as she is carrying additional points from the Central European League series. With 35 points to date she has a clear advantage over Great Britain's Richard Davison who finished seventh today with Hiscox Artemis and who is next is line with 25 points on the leaderboar, while Sebastien Duperdu from France is third with 23 points ahead of Belgium's Marc Peter Spahn in fourth with 22, The Netherlands' Aat van Essen in fifth carrying 21 and then Minderhoud and Italy's Valentina Truppa who lie joint-sixth with 20 points.
Result: 1, IPS Tango (Hans Peter Minderhoud) NED 79.300; 2, Responsible (Helen Langehanenberg) GER 78.300; 3, Don Auriello (Tinne Vilhelmsson Silfven) SWE 75.925; 4, Dorina (Siril Helljesen) NOR 75.525; 5, Krawall (Jenny Schreven) NED 74.950; 6, Apollo van het Vijverhof (Jeroen Devroe) BEL 74.475; 7, Hiscox Artemis (Richard Davison) GBR 74.375; 8, Skovlunds Mas Guapo (Mikaela Lindh) FIN 72.025; 9, Schianto (Sidsel Johansen) DEN 71.675; 10, Le Beau (Philippe Jorissen) BEL 71.125. Full results at www.scgvisual.com
Facts and Figures:
Today's competition was the first of 9 qualifying rounds in the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2011/2012 series.
The winning rider was The Netherlands' Hans Peter Minderhoud whose most famous equine partner, Exquis Nadine, was retired during the FEI European Dressage Championships 2011 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands this summer.
The Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage series final will take place at 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands 18-21 April 2012.
The panel of Judges on today's Ground Jury was : At E, Andrew Gardner (GBR), At H, Peter Holler (GER), At C, Kurt Christensen (DEN), At M, Wim Ernes (NED) and at B, Susanne Baarup (DEN).
Winning rider Hans Peter Minderhoud NED – “Nadine is loving her retirement. I ride her and so does our groom a few times a week. She likes to walk in the woodland and to go into the field for half the day – she is very happy!”.
Asked which of her horses is best, Responsible or her European Championship horse Damon Hill, Germany's Helen Langehanenberg (2nd place today) replied “both are fantastic and I love them both – so I won't put one in front of the other!”.
29 year old Danish rider Sidsel Johansen who finished ninth today on her Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage debut – “I had a few problems at the entrance yesterday, but it went much better today. I have no tangible plans at the moment, but of course I hope that I will be invited to the World Cup again so that I can pressure the Danish national team riders for a spot on the team!”.
Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2011/2012 – Standings after Round 1 at Odense (DEN):
1. Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven SWE – 35
2. Richard Davison GBR – 25
3. Sebastien Duperdu FRA – 23
4. Marc Peter Spahn BEL – 22
5. Aat van Essen NED – 21
6. Hans Peter Minderhoud NED – 20
6. Valentina Truppa ITA – 20
8. Helen Langehanenberg GER – 17
8. Mary Hanna AUS – 17
8. Peter Gmoser AUT – 17