Tinne Wilhelmson-Silfvén on Favourit in Florida Wins Her First Ever World Cup Qualifier

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Tinne Wilhelmson-Silfvén on Favourit winning her first ever World Cup qualifying competition. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Jan. 22–Tinne Wilhelmson-Silfvén won her first ever World Cup qualifier Saturday night when she rode Favourit to a personal best for the pair of 77.275 per cent at the Gold Coast Opener Festival.

In unseasonably cold and breezy weather with a temperature of 50F (10C) that Tinne said “got her in the right mood,” (it was 18F/-8C in Stockholm) Tinne and the 12-year-old Rhinelander gelding performed an expressive and fluid ride before an estimated 200 spectators, a healthy crowd for dressage in South Florida. The competition was in a covered arena with no walls to protect against the wind, at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center on the outskirts of Wellington.

U.S. World Equestrian Games team mates filled the second and third places.

Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida, on Calecto V, who had beaten the Swedish combination in the Grand Prix Friday, finished second with 73.800 per cent while Katherine Bateson-Chandler of Wellington, Florida, on Nartan was third on 70.250 per cent.

Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Nartan. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The scores from the five judges for Tinne were unanimous in placing the Swedish WEG team pair first, with Americans Natalie Lamping and Lilo Fore awarding 79.500 per cent and 78.875 per cent, respectively. A review of the records for the past four years showed that Tinne’s score was her personal best, including those on Solos Carex whom she competed at the 2007 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, the European Championships and the 2008 Olympic Games.

Tinne–currently ranked 19th in the world with Favourit–has five straight Olympics to her credit: Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing in 2008.

“I’m really pleased with tonight’s result,” Tinne said after the competition watched by her family and Antonia Ax:son Johnson, her sponsor. “It was very good considering the cold, windy, dark conditions which he’s very sensitive to.”

Tinne Wilhelmson-Silfvén and Antonia Ax:son Johnson after the World Cup qualifier Saturday night. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Saturday night’s CDI-W was the first of three World Cup qualifiers in Palm Beach over the next two months and Tinne said she plans to compete in all of them as she is based in Wellington for three months.

However, although points won in the North American League can be transferred to the Western European League in which she competes, Tinne would not commit to competing at the World Cup Final in Leipzig, Germany April 21-May 1 even if she qualifies because she wants to be sure the horses are in top condition and do not suffer any ill effects from transatlantic travel. She doesn’t want to raise expectations and then have to change plans.

“I want to take it one step at a time,” she said. “If everything goes well and the travel is not a problem, then we’ll think about the World Cup.

“We want to do what is best for the horse, that is the most important thing. The horses are doing well, they haven’t been affected by the travel here.”

The European Championships in Rotterdam at the end of August are their main goal for 2011

Despite the chilly weather, the crowd was in a party mood and enthusiastically applauded the 10 combinations from Canada, Sweden and the U.S. who competed in the Grand Prix Freestyle. Although one side of the arena was decorated with national flags, noticeably absent was a Swedish flag.

Earlier, Arlene “Tuny” Page of Wellington on Alina won the Grand Prix Special with a score of 65.771 per cent with Elisabeth Austin of Williston, Vermont on Olivier second on 62.917 per cent and Diana Mukpo of Wellington third on 59.896 per cent.

Arlene Page and Alina in the Grand Prix Special. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Grand Prix Freestyle results: Sat CDI Freestyle Scores

Other CDI Results: Sat CDI Scores