FEI Report by Claartje van Andel (shortened)
The Netherlands' Edward Gal and his mare Sisther de Jeu simply did what they set out to do at the sixth leg of the 2010/2011 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage series in Mechelen, Belgium today when following their victory in the Grand Prix with the same result in the Freestyle. As Gal is the title defender and does not receive points in his starts, his partner, Hans Peter Minderhoud, claimed maximum points when runner-up with the mare Exquis Nadine. And Ulla Salzgeber, winner at both Kaposvar in Hungary and at Frankfurt in her native Germany this season, finished third with her chestnut mare Wakana to forge a strong lead at the top of the series leaderboard.
Gal was relieved and happy with the win. He took the rather inexperienced mare Sisther de Jeu to Olympia in London and now to Mechelen. “She is very sensitive and is not used to a lot of noise and to the crowds, but she is learning to behave better, and to relax - this definitely will be her future” the 40 year old rider said with confidence. His Freestyle music is just like the famous Freestyle of his former ride, the stallion Totilas which has now been sold to Germany.
Hans Peter Minderhoud was enormously happy about receiving the full 20 points normally allocated to the winner when finishing as the runner-up. “In the Grand Prix I had a flashback to the amazing jump at the WEG when Exquis Nadine was affected by the noises around the arena!" he pointed out. "Don’t forget this was the very first time for her to enter a show arena again after the WEG. So I decided today to ride a serpentine instead of a straight line toward the judge at C to avoid a too-energetic reaction. and it worked out very well. I was very happy with my test” he added, with obvious delight.
QUITE A CHALLENGE
Chairman of the judges Mariette Withages said that the first five competitors had given each other quite a challenge. “To me they didn’t differ a lot, each showing their own strong points” she explained. She also said she had rewarded Edward Gal and Sisther de Jeu with some nines.
Salzgeber is now in a position to relax a bit ahead of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in Leipzig, Germany next April. The experienced rider has taken her time with both Herzruf’s Erbe and Wakana, educating them since their third year and fifth year respectively. “The strongest point of Wakana definitely is her canter - I’m still working on improving the piaffe" the rider pointed out. "Herzruf’s Erbe will be my horse for the Final. I’m happy to be in the German A Cadre now as this gives me a lot of starting possibilities. The European Championships in Rotterdam and the Olympic Games in London are on my mind too” Salzgeber added.
BEST FOR BELGIUM
National champion Jeroen Devroe finished best for Belgium in fifth place.Devroe produced a great test in which he encouraged the audience right from the start to accompany the passage with clapping, and so they did. But in fact he encouraged the technicians to make the music louder too. However it worked out quite well and his horse Apollo van het Vijverhof seemed to like the atmosphere. “I had a better feeling than I have had for several weeks” Devroe pointed out afterwards. He had been hesitating to come to Mechelen as his horse didn’t give him the right feeling, but in the end decided to come anyway. A good decision as it turned out.
Belgium's Vicky Smits-van der Hasselt had a moment of bad luck. She probably also should have given the technicians a sign to make her music louder but she did not, and she couldn’t hear her music very well and so came on a wrong spot into the pirouette and went three times around instead of the maximum allowed two-and-a-half times. Unfortunately this is punished with the technical mark 0 for the pirouette and the mark five as the maximum mark for the artistic part of the Freestyle. However there are a lot of positive things happening in her life right now as she is happily three months pregnant, and, after an injury of one year, her horse Daianara van de Helle is very fit and back in work.
Now the excitement of the 2010/2011 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage series moves on to Amsterdam in The Netherlands, 20-23 January, and after that only three further qualifying rounds remain.