Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven set the crowd alight when claiming victory with her 10-year-old gelding, Don Auriello, at the fourth leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage 2012/2013 series in her home town of Stockholm on Sunday.
And the host nation had further reason for celebration as Swedish riders clinched three of the top-five finishing spots.
Germany’s Kristina Sprehe and her handsome stallion Desperados FRH lined up second ahead of Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Watermill Scandic HBC in third, while young Danish talent, Anna Kasprzak finished fourth with Donnperignon, pinning Sweden’s Minna Telde and Santana into fifth.
The result is the perfect conclusion to a special week for Swedish equestrian sport. Last Thursday, the Swedish Equestrian Federation marked its centenary at a gala evening in Stockholm City Hall, with Queen Silvia as guest of honour. And it was a particularly special occasion for dressage judge and honorary FEI Bureau Member Eric Lette, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Lette announced yesterday that he was retiring from judging duties, but that he will remain in the sport in a supervisory capacity.
“I’m retiring because I want to give some younger judges a chance, and because I think it is better for the sport if we don’t have too many older judges still in place,” he said. And he was delighted to be in a position, for once, to express his pleasure at the success of riders from his own country.
“I was really happy to see two Swedish riders on the podium today!”
Sweden already had the whip hand at the halfway stage with Sofie Lexner’s nice test from the gelding Charming Boy, leading the way with a score of 71.375. Last into the ring before the halfway break, compatriot Charlotte Haid Bondergaard had a much less comfortable time when Triviant, who was longlisted for the London 2012 Olympic Games, was too bold and strong leading to his rider’s decision to retire towards the closing stages of their test.
Minna Telde opened the second half of the competition with an even better score of 74.825 from the 11 year old stallion Santana whose light movement and bouncy canter created a pleasant picture. And this pair remained in front despite a crowd-pleasing performance from Norway’s Lilann Jebsen and Pro-Set who were next to take their turn. This 15 year old stallion, formerly competed by Britain’s Carl Hester, showed power and a real sense of purpose as he put 74.000 on the board.
But fifth-last to go, Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Watermill Scandic HBC, just blew that away with a fabulous performance that oozed quiet confidence and a clear understanding between horse and rider. Seamless transitions, crisp delivery of each movement and a superb sense of rhythm combined for a new target-score of 82.175 that would not be easy to beat.
Local man, 35 year old Kristian von Krusentiema who runs the family-owned Agesta Gard Riding Centre just outside Stockholm and who is also Chairman of the Swedish Dressage Trainers Club, steered the stallion son of the legendary Briar – Biggles – to a mark of 71.975 before Anna Kasprzak produced her challenge. And the young Dane, who will turn 23 next week, continued her impressive run of form with Donnperignon who, despite some difficulty in piaffe, demonstrated enormous ease with a series of transitions from one to two-time canter and great smoothness throughout his test to slot temporarily into second behind Kittel when putting 80.125 on the board.
But Vilhelmson-Silfven had stamped her authority in Saturday’s Grand Prix with a winning mark of 79.149, and Don Auriello simply sparkled once again on Sunday as he flung out his forelegs in flashy extended trot during a show-stealing performance. The 45 year old rider, who has six Olympic Games and seven European Championships under her belt, produced lovely pirouettes from her 10 year old gelding whose expression suggests he enjoys every moment of his time in the ring, and with a score of 84.700 they really put it up to the final competitor.
And Germany’s Kristina Sprehe and Desperados FRH had to settle for runner-up spot for the second day in row despite a very strong test that earned a mark of 82.175. “I had a good feeling today,” Sprehe said, “the canter was better and I really like my musical arrangement which I have been working on with my coach”.
For winning rider Vilhelmson-Silfven there was a great sense of satisfaction that Don Auriello had coped so well with the intense atmosphere of the Ericsson Globe Arena. “He (Don Auriello) is getting so much more confident. He has always had a lot of “go” power and sometimes that can be a problem but I’m so delighted with him today – it is our first time to get over 80 percent and I didn’t dare to believe we could do it, but we did!”
She realised the home crowd was very much behind her, “and that was very nice” she said, but her plan now is to pack her horse’s and her own bags and fly with them to Wellington in Florida, USA where she will compete between January and March.
“It is minus 10 degrees here with snow, so we are going to escape,” she said. “To be able to compete in Florida during our European winter is fantastic. Wellington is made for horses with wonderful warm weather and an ideal environment – and it’s not too bad for people either! But I will be back well in time for the Reem Acra Final in Gothenburg,” she added with a laugh.
The result has moved her up to third on the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage 2012/2013 leaderboard which continues to be headed by Italy’s Valentina Truppa, while Germany’s Kristina Sprehe lies second going into the next leg at Olympia in London on 18 December.
Result: 1, Don Auriello (Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven) SWE 84.700; 2, Desperados FRH (Kristina Sprehe) GER 82.775; 3, Watermill Scandic HBC (Patrik Kittel) SWE 82.175; 4, Donnperignon (Anna Kasprzak) DEN 80.125; 5, Santana (Minna Telde) SWE 74.825; 6, Pro-Set (Lillann Jebsen) NOR 74.000; 7, Biggles (Kristian von Krusentierna) SWE 71.975; 8, Charming Boy (Sofie Lexner) SWE 71.375; 9, Hexagon’s Truman (Thamar Zweistra) NED 70.150; 10, Randon (Michal Rapcewicz) POL 69.350; 11, Soraya II (Stella Hagelstam) FIN 68.025; 12, Le Beau (Philippe Jorissen) BEL 67.950; 13, Donnerbube (Silvia Rizzo) ITA 66.025; 14, Triviant (Charlotte Haid Bondergaard) SWE Retired.
Standings after Round 4:
1. Valentina Truppa ITA – 52
2. Kristina Sprehe GER – 51
3. Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven SWE – 46
4. Marcela Krinke Susmelj SUI – 44
5. Edward Gal NED – 33
6. Anna Kasprzak DEN – 30
6. Patrik Kittel SWE – 30
8. Pia Fortmuller CAN – 28
9. Helen Langehanenberg GER – 26
10. Minna Telde SWE – 24
11. Sidsel Johansen DEN – 23
12. Karin Kosak AUT – 22
12. Anabel Balkenhol GER – 22
14. Stefan Peter AUT – 20
14. Marlies van Baalen NED – 20
14. Lyndal Oatley AUS – 20
17. Lillann Jebsen NOR – 11
18. Kristian von Krusentierna SWE – 10
19. Sofie Lexner SWE – 9
20. Silvia Rizzo ITA – 8
20. Thamer Zweistra NED – 8