This year’s GHS Champs held at Kyalami Park gave the Gauteng Grand Prix riders another chance to try their hands at the Grand Prix test. Candice Hobday and her experienced mare, Filina, dominated in the Grand Prix classes, winning both the Grand Prix championship and the Freestyle. Chere Burger and Ingeborg Sanne were victorious in the Intermediate I championship and Intermediate Freestyle respectively.
It was disappointing that a show of such magnitude on the Gauteng show calendar had an alarmingly lifeless atmosphere. Admittedly, dressage is not the most exciting sport for the spectator who does not understand the technical intricacies, and it is often difficult for us to attract the crowds that are drawn to the excitement and easily understood format of show jumping, but the tables of supporters with wine and snacks ready for a fun day of dressage with friends and fellow competitors seem to be a thing of the past. Now, competitors and supporters appear for the hour that they are riding and then disappear off to continue with their day. The KwaZulu Natal Dressage Committee is doing a phenomenal job of turning these big shows into an event for the whole family and creating hype amongst the riders and supporters to try attract the crowds. We hope the other provinces take note and try to create the same hype and anticipation for their big shows.
What the show lacked in atmosphere, it made up for in entries. The classes were well supported with the usual Gauteng competitors as well as a few familiar faces from Free State and Natal. Chere Burger, back from the European show circuit, and Wium van Huyssteen dominated with the Adelprag horses in almost every class.
Surprise results in the Intermediate Championship and Freestyle
In the Intermediate I Championship, Chere Burger was the last to go and had her work cut out to beat the challenge set down by an ‘on form’ Johan Roodt on Verdini Wagner. Chere’s European training and show experience has clearly affected her riding as she pulled out all the stops to produce a super test scoring 67.76% on the Friesian stallion Adelprag Arjen. The trot work was rhythmical and active with the trot half passes and shoulder-in’s showing good bend and crossing, but it was the canter work that was the true highlight of the test. The canter zigzag was smooth with expressive changes, the extended canter was ground-covering and the tempis were correct. Johan Roodt was second with 65.61% and Anthea Michaletos and Ulivia STV were third with 64.78%.
The Intermediate Freestyle class was a surprise result with Ingeborg Sanne pulling the win out the bag with a score of 67.19%. Ingeborg and her mare, Winslow Chelsea, performed their freestyle to lovely jazzy music which suited the mare’s light-footedness. The trot work appeared hurried throughout the test but the canter work was polished with the climax of the test being lovely flying changes in perfect timing to the chorus of The Beatles’ song “Yellow Submarine”. Anthea Michaletos and Ulivia STV were second with a score of 65.32%. As usual, the mare’s expressive trot work pulls in big marks but the flying changes and pirouettes remain the partnership’s weakness, however, they will be virtually unbeatable in the small tour if they can sort out these issues.
Candice Hobday victorious in Grand Prix
The Grand Prix Champs were a pleasure to watch as it is already clearly evident that our riders are becoming more comfortable with the Grand Prix movements than they were in May at the CDI show. There is less of a hype surrounding the test and the riders perform each movement with calm confidence as if it is just another test rather than THE Grand Prix Test!
Candice Hobday and her Florestan mare Filina beat off stiff competition from Chere Burger and Andrea Harrison to become the victors of the Grand Prix Championship with a score of 62.84%. Filina is looking stronger behind and more comfortable with the passage which was rhythmical. The piaffe remains a sticking point as the mare was not straight, swinging her quarters from left to right and became laboured in the last piaffe at X. However, her canter work made up for the weakness in the piaffe with her trademark tempis remaining their highlight.
Chere Burger and her Danish bred gelding, Adelprag Fernhill Derry, were second with a score of 61.42%. Fernhill Derry is an extremely sensitive horse and Chere did well to get the gelding to relax into his work during the test. The trot tour was marred by tension but Chere rode sensitively which resulted in some lovely moments in the passage and some good canter work. The tempi changes were straight and uphill and the canter zigzag showed good bend. The last extended trot was expressive with the horse tracking up better behind. The last piaffe at X became a bit laboured but the transitions were smooth.
Andrea Harrison and Delmon Mining’s Marinier were third with 60.57%. Marinier did not seem to be on top form as a majority of the test was spoiled by tension. The passage, which is normally a highlight, became mechanical and uneven behind. There was also an unfortunate mistake in the last change of the one-time tempi changes.
Candice and Filina continued their dominance in the Freestyle with a score of 68.57%. The pair performed their usual kur which suits Filina’s powerful movements but it may be time for the pair to perform a fresh new kur for the CDI show in September. The mare seemed to be a handful in the warm up and whilst trotting around the arena, but Candice channeled this energy into the test which resulted in expressive work. Filina continues to struggle in the piaffe with her quarters still swinging. The canter work was excellent with super double canter pirouettes, tempi’s and a ground-covering extended canter.
With the excitement growing for the combined SA Champs and FEI CDI show, we hope Gauteng creates a buildup for the event to attract some much-needed support. There is something about performing for a crowd that brings out the showman in most riders. Our top riders competing in a show of such enormity deserve to perform in front of a crowd.
Article by DressageAfrica Team
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