I’ve got just a little time before the freestyles start, so will quickly bring you up to speed on the GP Special this afternoon in case you couldn’t get yourself to any internet to watch the live feed. I can tell you that if I thought Adrienne Lyle and Wizard looked like US Olympic team contenders in the GP yesterday, they are looking like a shoo-in after their splendid performance today. The whole thing was brilliant but my very favourite part was the canter tour. I thought Heather’s ride, at least the first half, was not as good as yesterday. Paragon looked a little tense in the trot tour, and those stumbles in the extended trot must cost, but the canter tour was outstanding and the quality of the horse flesh had to have a big impact on the marks in the end. Definitely deserving of the score and second place, and probably headed for London too. Most improved from yesterday, I’m happy to report, was Vicki and Proton. They looked much more in sync.
And now for the freestyles, which I do hope you all managed to watch on the wonderful HD live feed.
Minna and Deinhardt – love the arrangement of her U2 music. Canter choreography was a little confusing but the music makes up for it. The sound system this year is ten times improved over last year. Actually the whole scene here is fantastic. There is atmosphere like you never see at North American dressage shows, other than at the WC in Vegas (I wish they would do it again, it’s the best use of Vegas I can imagine) . Back to Minna – lovely music, lovely ride. 71%
Carl and Wie Atlantico – Oh Carl, I’m sorry but I do hate your Tom Jones music. I didn’t expect you to make a whole new freestyle for your catch ride but perhaps you could have riffled through the archives and found something less cheesy. And that matches the gait, perhaps. On the technical side, Carl is brilliant beyond measure. He barely knows this horse (he just admitted in the post-ride interview – which is being broadcast by live feed into the arena on monitors, much to our delight – that he’s ridden Wie Atlantic a grand total of 14 times), but he actually pushed and took risks – and pulled it off. I feel like I’m insulting him by even giving an assessment, however gushingly praiseful. Thank you Carl, for coming to town. Thousands of fans appreciate it. 74.85%
Tina and Calecto – I do love the KT Tunstall passage music and he’s a wonderful horse but this week he just doesn’t look quite himself. Unlevel steps in the extended trots and just not quite the happy-pants worker I remember from last year.
Ashley and Breaking Dawn – I know I’m venturing into dangerous territory here, given that she’s Canadian, but since I don’t know who made the freestyle, I can’t be guilty of anything personal. The music simply does not match the horse’s gaits. At all. Except for the final passage. And there’s a clamouring to the canter music that doesn’t flatter the one gait where he can get tight. Ok, before you send me hate mail, I do love the horse and Ashley is clearly headed in an exciting direction with him. 71.325%
Steffen and Ravel – I first saw this freestyle on a web video from Aachen last summer. My first impression was that the rhythm of the individual songs really enhance Ravel, but that the music, while beautifully arranged and seamless, was a bit repetitive and lacking in impact – and I found the ethereal child’s voice a bit well, ethereal for a big elastic powerhouse like Ravel. I thought seeing it live might change my mind, but it didn’t. I also thought Ravel wasn’t quite as good tonight as yesterday. The choreography is extremely difficult and quite twisty. There were several times I wished the line was straight and gave the horse a chance to get his balance. I’m nitpicking a bit but Ravel is such an incredibly generous athlete and I found that tonight his best didn’t quite come through. 83.7%
Tinne and Favourit – at the risk of invoking the wrath of a certain freestyle designer from Les Pays-Bas…on second thought I think I’ll refrain from saying that I find Putting on The Ritz a somewhat unoriginal idea. It seems like endless canter to me, choreographically. I do love Tinne’s riding and she does follow her music. Too bad Favourit isn’t that keen on piaffe at the moment. 78.25%
Anja and Le Mont d’Or – 80’s flashback. I really liked the passage music. And the horse is such an Honest Abe, pretty too. Gallop down centre line to something very near a sliding stop at the end. The crowd liked that part. I didn’t catch the score because Tom and Alex Dvorak came to hang out with me for Charlotte’s ride.
Charlotte and Valegro – oh my goodness gracious godness agnes I love that horse. And actually, the music was easily my favourite of the night for excitement and for something that mirrored in sound what the horse is visually and emotionally. He’s not quite there yet – there were a few moments where his youth was betrayed – but this is going to be a very exciting pair to watch in London. It was worth the trip to FL just to see them, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that sentiment. 83.65%
Ok folks, I have to go make sure there are bottles of water on the table at the press conference (journalism is a very glamorous job) so I’ll post this and say goodnight for now.