World Cup Freestyle Finals at s'-Hertogenbosch
March 17-30, 2008

World Cup Freestyle Finals at s’-Hertogenbosch

March 17-30, 2008

by Libby Anderson

An exciting few days of wonderful dressage and some brilliant musical freestyles held at the indoor

Brabant at s’-Hertogenbosch, Holland. The Brabant provided a great venue for the finals with a large indoor space (heated), seating for thousands, huge vendor mall for non-stop shopping, packed with many bars and restaurants. For the spectator this was a perfect venue. The main arena was a spectacular state of the art dressage arena decorated with spring flowers and bulbs, the footing was perfect and also there were several smaller warm-up arenas.

There were two CDI shows at this venue. A Grand Prix and a Grand Prix Special which was a regular CDI. There were 12 horses for this competition. Of particular interest were the Princess Nathalie Zu Sayn-Wittgenenst from Denmark with the talented Rigoletto and fellow Dane Anne Von Olst with Equis Clearwater both riding horses bred in Denmark. A strong Dutch contingent was led by Anky Von Grunsven and the KWPN stallion Painted Black, Parzival and Adelinde Cornelissen, Equis Nadine ridden by Hans Peter Minderhoud and Jeff ridden by Stephanie Peters. We had a Canadian competitor Evi Strasser and a single German starter in Heike Kemmer and the stallion Royal Rubin. It was a delight to watch some of the younger and less experienced horses show such talent for the Grand Prix as well as admiring the strong performance of the more seasoned competitors. The win in the Grand Prix Special went to Jeff with a 73%, Parzival came in a close second, followed by Painted Black with a 71%.

The PRIME TIME show was the Finals of the World Cup Musical Freestyle. What a star cast! Anky and IPS Salinero (NED), Isabel and Warum Nicht GER), Kyra Kyrklund and Max (FIN) and Jan Brink with the stallion Briar (SWE). America had two great competitors Courtney King and the stallion Idocus and Jane Hannigan with the gelding Maksymillian. Last but not least Australia had Rossie Ryan and Donna Carrera who qualified in the Pacific Finals.

The several thousand dressage enthusiasts from all over Europe, the Atlantic and the Pacific were sitting on the edge of their seats for the Final Freestyle. Most of the rides were spectacular and the best personal performance for the individual combinations. There were a couple of sad spots such as where Courtney King and the16 year old stallion Idocus after scoring over 70% in the Grand Prix performed a wonderful Kur but with one fatal mistake. Courtney was a little ahead of her music when she did her double pirouette - she felt that she may have done two pirouettes but the music was still in pirouette mode. After executing the triple pirouette Courtney and Idocus were penalized with a zero for the movement with stiff penalties for the Artistic. Courtney had to accept a low score of 63 %. If the mistake had not happened Courtney would have scored 74% and a placing in the 2008 World Cup.

The stars of the Freestyle were, as expected Anky Von Grunsven, Isabel Werth, Imke Bartels, Jan Brink, Kyra Kyrklund. Both Anky and Imke has stupendous music from the world acclaimed composer and pianist from the Netherlands Wibi Soerjadi. The feeling, excitement and tension for both these freestyle was amazing. Anky and IPS Salinero had to settle for second place in the GP to her German friendly rival Isabel Werth and the 18 hand giant Warum Night who scored well with very expressive and correct half passes and pirouettes.. The freestyle was a different event where Anky and Salinero performed an inspiring freestyle with a great score of 85.2% from the five FEI “O” judges. Isabel and Warum Nicht also performed well with a couple of mistakes to her old Kur music for a terrific score of 82.6%. Kyra Kyrklund and Max danced their way to the music of Caberat for a score of 78.155 for third place.

The delightful mare Hunter Douglas Sunrise and Imke Sshellekens-Bartels rode to the music of Wibi Soerjadi tiltled “The Essence of Sunrise.” This delightful mare had several mistakes at s’Hertogenbosch which were really were emphasized by the classical music and choreography. Sunrise had to settle for fourth place and a 77.45%. American Jane Hannigan and Maxsymillan scored 69.48% for twelfth place and the Aussie Rossie Ryan riding Donna Carrera came in 11th for the Kur with a score of 69.6%.

So many great rides had the crowd of 11,000 on their toes for the entire event. Farewell to Holland and an excellent final for the World Cup and “Hello” to Beijing later this year for the 2008 Olympic Games.