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Anky van Grunsven takes dressage into new era at World Cup Qualifier in London
At the centenary Olympia Horseshow dressage stepped into a new era. Anky van Grunsven presented her brand new Freestyle composed by virtuoso Wibi Soerjadi, called ‘Dance of devotion’. The judges unanimously agreed on the victory of the Olympic gold couple (83,050%).
Along with this British dressage also stepped into a new era as Laura Bechtolsheimer reached for the unique score of 75,333% in Grand Prix, a score never received by a British dressage rider before. The huge applause and cheering of the home crowd unfortunately tonight was still in the mind of 12 year old Mistral Hojris, resulting in a lower score and fifth position. The runner up position now was for the popular Finnish Kyra Kyrklund and Max, who did a very good job with their Cabaret-Freestyle (76,500%). British Carl Hester ended at fourth position with a nice swinging and controlled test riding Dolendo of mrs Ann Cory. He was overjoyed as he hadn’t ridden a Freestyle since 2003, however the Grand Prix-score of Laura Bechtolsheimer appealed to him even more.
Anky van Grunsven said it was not about new Freestyles but about looking closer at horses and Freestyles which brings improvement. A new piece however brings extra tension as a freestyle only can be experienced in full when showed in the arena. Anky felt very nervous before she entered the full house Olympia filled with expectation. “Normally I only have to take care of my horse IPS Salinero before entering such a packed arena. But now I had to take care of one my horse, two my new choreography, three my new music. It was quite a challenge!”
Anky said she felt a bit disappointed when she had left the arena because she sometimes was ahead of the music. “The good thing was that I felt it and did notice it. And I know the first time cannot be perfect. But still I do hope for a perfect ride.”
Chairman of the judges Dr Volker Moritz however was full of praise. “It was a very special atmosphere tonight and I was very impressed by the new Freestyle of Anky van Grunsven. It fitted the horse very well and I rewarded it with very high marks.” Judge Stephen Clarke added: “It was very subtle, very clever, very difficult. I think this Freestyle has every chance to grow as it needs a little exposure and probably practice.”
Compared to Anky’s gold winning Freestyle with the French chansons, not only the degree of difficulty in the technical performance has risen, also the degree of difficulty in the music added to the atmosphere and impression. Composer Wibi Soerjadi witnessed the performance himself and said: “This was not a translation of the movements of the horse into music. It was an expression of emotion. This ‘Dance of devotion’ was played by 70 musicians and had 16 different melodies and voices coming all together to express the endless mastership of this pair. That was what I intended to express.”
Photo credit: Kit Houghton/FEI
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