While I fry like an egg in the afternoon sun (but I’m not complaining!) here are a few thumbs up and down from the dressage:
1. favourite new-comer day one GP – Emma from Finland and her fabulous passage and trot machine. She’s just 25, but she sure rode like she belonged here. No big surprise that she trains with Hubertus. I expect big things from her next time around.
2. favourite new-comer day two GP – Poland’s Katarzyna Milczarek and her horse Ekwador, who gets my vote for most beautiful horse of the entire WEG dressage. What I loved was the contact. He always looked happy in his work – the frame, which was always poll on top, nose at vertical, never looked rigid or fixed. And he’s a stallion to boot. A very impressive international debut for Katarzyna. I have to give Mariette her due here: thanks to her determination to globalize dressage we are indeed seeing the results now.
3. favourite fashion statement – the Spanish riders’ coats! They looked positively dashing in their dark grey tails. It was so exciting to watch the Spanish begin their climb back to the podium again, and the horses bring another dimension to the visual feast of world class dressage. And I especially love how Juan Manuel gave Fuego a big pat as he went into the extended walk in the GPS.
4.best composure in the face of adversity – Bonny Bonnello – after such a long time out of the BIG RING, Bonny really showed her mettle out there. Pikardi said ‘no merci’ to the piaffes after the walk and not only did she put in a really strong canter tour, but she also showed the judges what his piaffe should have looked like on the final centre line.
5. most improved movement – at every major championship I notice a trend toward movements that seem to be poorly ridden by a lot of riders. In Hong Kong that movement was the canter zig zag. But not here. It’s got to be one of the most difficult movements in the test; it’s also the biggest investment of time and effort for one mark of any movement, by far. I saw a lot of very good zig zags here. And actually, I don’t think the world has ever witnessed higher quality horse and rider talent than here. Outstanding and inspiring.
6. favourite personality – I met Laura B. a couple of years ago at the CDI5* in Lyon and I was impressed with her candor and approachability. Watching her complete what is sure to be the silver medal winning GPS, I have to say I really admire her riding, her unrestrained joy at the end of her tests, and the demonstration of love for her horse. Laura B, you are pure awesomeness.
7. least favourite judging moment – when Linda Zang gave Nadine 75.625% in the GPS. Did she not catch that capriole on the final centre line, I wonder? Never mind that her love-drenched assessment was 10% higher than the lowest judge; it was a full 7% higher than the average of the other four combined.
8. weirdest press release photo – In the realm of strange press release photos, the one in the FEI release on Parzival’s elimination must rank among the best. Please no one post any comments about cruelty based on pulling a horse’s tongue out of his mouth and twisting it 180 degrees.