WEG Dressage Kicks Off Monday & Promises to be, Yes, Exciting
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Dressage starts at the World Equestrian Games on Monday and both the Grand Prix team competition over the first two days and the individual medals on Friday promise one of the most exciting, yes, exciting contests in the history of the sport.
For the first time, Moorlands Totilas ridden by Edward Gal, Jerich Parizal ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen, the Ducth team mates who are the No. 1 and No. 2 combinations in the world, Ravel ridden by Steffen Peters of the United States, Mistral Hojris ridden by Great Britain’s Laura Bechtolsheimer and Warum Nicht FRH ridden by Germany’s celebrated Isabell Werth will meet in the same competition.
And the team competition, even assuming the Dutch are unassailable for gold, is closer for silver and bronze with the never-give-up German squad hoping to reverse the order of finish at the 2009 European Championships when the Brits won silver while a scrappy squad of three championship team rookies anchored by Steffen Peters and to become a force to be reckoned with.
Riding on the team results for the USA if they finish lower than third is that its hopes of competing at the 2012 Olympics in London will hinge on finishing in the top two at the 2011 Pan American Games, an almost certainty but not something one wants to leave to the last minute if possible.
Sunday was final preparation for many of the horse and rider partnerships and they were allowed into the main stadium where the competition will take place to train.
Most horse and rider pairs took advantage of the opportunity.
While Moorlands Totilas and Edward drew most of the attention riding through movements one rider commented, “If you want to stay under the radar ride at the same time as Totilas. No one will notice you, no matter what you’re doing.” There was a lot of agreement.
First horse in the ring Monday will be Ellen Birgitte Farbrot on CC Royal for Norway.
For the USA, the first rider is Todd Flettrich on Otto at 12:25 p.m. followed by Katherine Bateson Chandler on Nartan at 4:42 p.m. Monday, with Tina Konyot and Calecto V at 11:21 a.m. and Steffen Peters and Ravel at 5 p.m., the last ride of the day on Tuesday.
Hans Peter Minderhoud on Exquis Nadine will start for the Netherlands at 9: 10 a.m. with Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Hunter Douglas Sunrise at 2:49 p.m. on Monday with Adelinde Cornelissen on Jerich Parzival at 9:10 a.m. and Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas at 2:31 p.m. on Tuesday.
Germany starts with Anabel Balkenhol at 9:53 a.m. with Christoph Koschel on Donnperignon at 3:53 p.m. on Monday and Matthias Alexander Rath on Sterntaler UNICEF at 9:44 a.m. and Isabell Werth on Warum Nicht FRH at 4:49 p.m. on Tuesday.
Great Britain will lead off with Fiona Bigwood on Wie-Atlantico de Ymas at 10:11 a.m. with Maria Eilberg on Two Sox at 3:41 p.m. on Monday and Carl Hester and Liebling II at 10:02 a.m. and Laura Bechtolsheimer on Mistral Hojris at 3:32 p.m. on Tuesday.
Canada will start with Victoria Winter on Proton at 10:29 a.m. followed by Belinda Trussell on Anton at 3:50 p.m. on Monday with Bonny Bonnello on Pikardi at 10:11 a.m. and Ashley Holzer and Pop Art at 3:41 p.m. on Tuesday.
Australia leads off with Lyndal Oatley and Potifar at 12:07 p.m. then Rachel Sanna and Jaybee Alabaster at 4:32 p.m. on Monday with Hayley Beresford on Relåmpago do Retiro at 11:12 a.m. and Brett Parbery on Victory Salute at 4:42 p.m. on Tuesday.
Sixty-six riders are scheduled to participate in the dressage Grand Prix team competition starting at 8:34 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time (1434 CET) and running over two days.
Eleven teams of four riders and three of three riders–the remaining 13 are riding as individuals hoping to advance to the Grand Prix Special Wednesday and the Freestyle Friday night–will battle for the nations cup. The best three scores only count toward the final result.
The teams are Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United States.
However, Brazil is one of the nations with three riders and Rogerio de Silva Clementino’s Portugal did not pass the veterinary check Sunday and will be checked again Monday morning to see whether the horse is fit to compete. If not, Brazil will not have enough horses for a team so the remaining two combinations will ride as individuals.
Judges for the Grand Prix are: Ghislain Fouarhe of Netherlands at E, Linda Zang of USA at H, Stephen Clarke of Great Britain at C, Cara Witham of Canada at M and Evi Eisenhardt of Germany at B.
Belgium’s Stefan van Ingelgem, who returned home after his father died unexpectedly, will be the last rider for his team on Tuesday. Meantime, his horse, Withney van ‘t Gentof was exercised by team mate Claudia Fassaert by special permission.
Reining was the first of the eight disciplines to start at this WEG, the sixth combined world championships that are held every four years and the first time outside Europe. For the second day in a row, the competitions did not draw big crowds but organizers expect this to change with the start of dressage and, later in the week, eventing.
The U.S. won the team reining title Sunday for the third straight time, with Belgium second and Italy third. The endurance, also held Sunday, was won by new mother Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton of Spain on Nobby with the father and son competitors Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum on Ciel Oriental and Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum on SAS Alexis of the United Arab Emirates in second and third places, respectively.
UAE won the team competition with France second and Spain third.