Don Auriello, “Biggest Success” for Sweden’s 7-Time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén, to Receive Farewell Tribute at Stockholm Top 10

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Don Auriello with Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén at the horse’s last world championship, at the World Cup Final in Gothenburg in 2019. Don Auriello was the “biggest success” for the seven-time Swedish Olympian. Photo: Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Nov. 29, 2019

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Don Auriello will receive a farewell tribute at the Stockholm International Horse Show Top 10 this week from a nation he represented as “the biggest success” for partner Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén at two of her seven Olympics for Sweden.

Two Olympics, two World Equestrian Games including Tryon in 2018 that earned a start for Sweden at the Games in Tokyo next year, five World Cup Finals and three European Championships in a total of 118 Big Tour starts for Don Auriello since beginning Big Tour in 2011.

Grand Prix for Don Auriello (Don Davidoff x White Star) began in south Florida when the Hanoverian gelding was nine years old and went on to perform in 28 competitions there, victorious 20 times.

Owned by Antonia Ax:son Johnson and her Lövsta Stuteri for which Tinne rides, Don Auriello was brought to Florida with Favourit, Tinne’s mount at the World Games in Kentucky in 2010, to compete on the winter circuit for the first time. Antonia has close ties to America–she was born in New York–in both family and business. At the time, the Florida dressage circuit was on the verge of joining the long-established Winter Equestrian Festival of jumping and hunters as a major equestrian destination.

Don Auriello quickly staked the Swedish flag in Florida’s winner’s circle–five victories in six starts in the first year.

Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén on Don Auriello with Louise Nathhorst, Sweden’s World Cup champion with Walk on Top in 1998 who works with Tinne, holding the Swedish flag and Hans Christian Matthiesen, a 5* judge from Denmark.

Antonio Ax:son Johnson and her husband sharing Tinne’s success in Florida. Photo: © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Don Auriello became “very important” for Tinne, the horse on which she had her biggest success.

“But he is also a dear friend and we shared everything for 10 years,” she reminisced to dressage-news.com.

“I never had a horse more willing to work and eager to show. He just loves the attention and wants to be in the spotlight all the time. He’s extremely ambitious and I think he would do anything for me!

“We traveled around the world together and I couldn’t wish for any better company.”

The journey that began in Florida was followed by their first European competitions over the summer before returning to Wellington in 2012 and the newly created Global Dressage Festival. The circuit prepared the pair for their first international championship, the World Cup Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.

Don Auriello was to get his own music and choreography developed with Cees Slings, a Dutch freestyle creator who had worked with Anky van Grunsven, the Queen of the Freestyle with a record nine World Cup titles as well as three individual Olympic gold medals and two Freestyle world championship golds.

Tinne meeting with Cees Slings, the creator of freestyles, making last-minute tweaks for Don Auriello’s first musical performance at an international championship, the World Cup Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands in 2012. Photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Cees had produced freestyles for Tinne’s other horses, including Favourit.

The “Puttin’ on the Ritz” freestyle” was performed by Don Auriello and Tinne at the 2012 World Cup Final and London Olympics as well as in Florida.

Don Auriello and Tinne performing with poise the first international championship Freestyle, at the World Cup Final in a packed arena in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands in 2012. The partnership competed in five of the annual global championships centered on the Grand Prix Freestyle. Photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Just months later came sport’s biggest showcase–the Olympic Games in London. Tinne was a seasoned Olympian, five previous Games beginning in 1992 in Barcelona, Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.

Don Auriello was ridden by Tinne to the highest score for Sweden at the London Games. Photo: © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

After the London Games came the European Championships in Herning, Denmark in 2013, the World Cup Final in Lyon, France and the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France in 2014 and at Aachen, Germany in 2015 the second European Championship for the duo.

A career highlight was victory in the CDIO5* Grand Prix Freestyle in 2015 at perhaps the most prestigious horse show in the world, Germany’s World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, before the European Championships at the same venue that year. Photo: © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Tinne and Don Auriello, competing at home in Sweden in their fourth World Cup Final, at Gothenburg in 2016 to log the duo’s best ever finish of reserve champion in the annual championship. Fans at Gothenburg are among the most exuberant of any horse show in the world, and the performance by the Swedish pair was rewarded with thunderous applause and followed by celebrations that went on well after the competition. Photo © Pelle Wedenmark/dressage-news.com

In Tinne’s seventh Olympics and the second for Don Auriello, the pair were again the top ranked combination for Sweden in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Photo: © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Don Auriello was out of the competition arena after the Olympics until 2018. The pair competed a couple of times leading up to the Word Equestrian Games in Tryon and on the team that earned a start for Sweden at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final Florida centerline for Don Auriello ridden by Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén at the 2019 Global Dressage Dressage Festival, more than nine years after beginning their Big Tour career in Florida. Photo: © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Celebrity Don Auriello with Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven in the saddle walking out of their last international competition, the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2019. The moment was captured by photographers from around the world. Photo: © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The retirement ceremony is scheduled for about 10:15 a.m. Sunday local time.