Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén Caps Sweep of Palm Beach Dressage Derby with Freestyle Victory in Favourit
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
LOXAHATACHEE, Florda, Mar. 4–Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén and Favourit won the Palm Beach Dressage Derby Grand Prix Freestyle Sunday for a sweep of Florida’s oldest competition, while Todd Flettrich and Otto of the U.S. logged a personal best score by a big margin to be runnerup in the World Cup event.
It was also the second highest score by an American combination this year, exceeded only by Steffen Peters and Ravel.
For Tinne, her ride on the 13-year-old Rhinelander gelding (Fidermark x Wapita x Worldchamp) for a score of 77.300 per cent was “really a joy” in the second performance of the “It’s Broadway!” mix of tunes from the Swing era, the first at the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach six weeks ago.
The score of 76.200 per cent for Todd of Wellington, Florida, on the 16-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Rambo x Jubel x Rampal), easily surpassed their previous best of 73 per cent two years ago. Heather Blitz, also of Wellington, and her American-bred Paragon, was third on 73.450 per cent. Heather was the owner of Otto before the horse was bought by Cherry Knoll Farm four years ago for Todd to ride and on which he was a member of the U.S. team at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010.
Tinne has already qualified with Don Auriello in the Western European League for the World Cup Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, April 18-22.
On Divertimento, the third of her Grand Prix mounts all owned by Antonia Ax:son Johnson, she finished second behind Favourit in the Grand Prix on Friday and won the Olympic Grand Prix Special on Saturday. The Freestyle victory was the seventh straight win for Tinne
Favourit is sensitive to changes in the weather and he experienced a wide range Sunday–hot and humid early in the day, heavy rain driven by high winds late in the morning ahead of a cold front (cold by Florida standards at 54F/12C).
The performance, though, “felt like it was on the spot,” with Favourit performing on the aids and showing no ill effects from a colic that caused them to scratch from a show two weeks ago.
Tinne will show in one more competition, a World Cup event in West Palm Beach next weekend, before ending her second year on the three-month Florida circuit and returning home ahead of the World Cup Final.
The score for Todd and Otto was the highest attained by a North American combination in the 2011/2012 World Cup North American League.
However, he did not declare for the World Cup and is not entered in the concluding NAL competition next week. Instead, he is scheduled to compete in the $120,000 Global Dressage Festival CDI5* at the end of the month before giving Otto a break ahead of the U.S. Olympic selection trials in Gladstone, New Jersey, in June.
Todd described himself as “not much of a freestyle rider,” but the pair clearly enjoyed themselves or, as he said, “it’s the first time we got to play. We had fun.”
Todd was upset with himself over their fourth place finish in the Grand Prix Friday, “a place a don’t like to be.”
He rejiggered the freestyle that had previously begun with the piaffe and passage, Otto’s strongest gaits, and the judges liked the changes. Linda Zang of the United States gave him the highest score–79.625 per cent, while Stephen Clarke of Great Britain gave Todd and Otto one nine and two 10s for the piaffe.
Mikala Gundersen, a Dane based in Wellington, finished in fifth place on My Lady and a score of 70.525 per cent that she said was “amazing.”
My Lady is a 12-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Michellino x Itterstern) bought less than four months ago by former fellow Dane Janne Rumbough as a “fun” partnership with Mikala.
She said she was nervous going into the competition using a freestyle of tunes from Elvis and the Bee Gees borrowed from her previous Grand Prix mount, Leonberg. She had not ridden it on My Lady until two weeks ago. The freestyle was choregraphed early in Leonberg’s career so did not have a high level of difficuly.
“It seemed to suit her,” Mikala said. “The mare has so much potential.
“I feel so lucky to have gotten off Leonberg one year ago and now I have this mare to ride.”
This World Cup competitions did not change the standings in the North American League with two competitions to go–both next week with one in Florida and one in California.
Adrienne Lyle of Ketchum, Idaho, and Wizard lead the standings with James Koford of Wellington and Pharaoh in second place. Rankings are determined by an average of freestyle scores unlike the Western and Central European Leagues where points are awarded for placings.
The North American League is awarded two places in the World Cup Final.