Guenter Seidel & Sundayboy, Both Returning from Injuries, Shine at Burbank CDI-W

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Guenter Seidel and Sundayboy in the Prix St. Georges at the Festival of the Horse CDI-W. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

BURBANK, California, April 1–Guenter Seidel and Sundayboy are both returning to form from injuries last year, but their performance at the Festival of the Horse CDI-W Friday indicates the pair are could be on track to make a bid to compete at the London Olympic Games in 2012.

In only the second competition since Guenter broke his hip 10 months ago in a riding accident in Germany and only the second competition ride ever on Sundayboy, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Kennedy, the pair scored 73.596 per cent for second place in the Prix St. Georges.

Guenter, 50, of Cardiff, California, began riding Sundayboy a year ago after being bought by his longtime sponsors, Jane and Richard Brown.

He took the black horse to Germany with the intention of competing him in some European Grand Prix, but Sundayboy was injured before any shows and put out to pasture for a half-year. The horse has been brought back slowly and the pair competed for the first time just two weeks ago.

The German-born rider is a three-time Olympic bronze medalist and the winner of team silver at the WEG in Jerez in 2002 and team bronze in Aachen in 2006 for the United States. The accident kept him from seeking to be on the U.S. team at the WEG in Kentucky last year.

Although the focus in the Americas in 2011 is on the Pan American Games held only once every four years and in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October, Sundayboy is not a candidate.

The horse is performing all the Grand Prix movements at home, he said, but is physically not ready yet to compete at a show with a warm-up.

The plan is to go to Europe with his confirmed Grand Prix horse, U II, also owned by Jane and Richard Brown, and work with Klaus Balkenhol. He hopes to show at Hamburg and Wiesbaden in Germany, Fritzens in Austria and possibly get an invitation to Aachen.

“We haven’t decided whether to compete Sundayboy at small tour and gradually move him up to Grand Prix in Europe,” he said. “We’ll see how he progresses and how fit he becomes.”

While Sundayboy is very “businesslike” at shows, Guenter said, totally opposite to U II who can be spooky but the same characteristic can produce brilliance.

Sundayboy, he senses, has “fire in him” that could be “lit up” as he becomes fitter.

“He is not a dull horse,” he said.

While the goal for both horses is London, Guenter said he is very realistic about the prospects for Sundayboy and will not push the horse if he is not ready.

As for Guenter’s health, he said he was still sore at the show two weeks ago but is “already 50 per cent better” and “super happy” with his recovery.