While Central Europe Go to War – Equestrian Bliss in Florida and Doha

The festival of horses at Wellington in Florida is now in full swing with top international competitions taking centre stage for both dressage and showjumping together with Doha in Qatar. In the rest of the world, unfortunately, as we all know, Putin has decided to invade Ukraine in a vain attempt to re-introduce the iron curtain of thirty years ago. We will leave others to discuss and comment on this action, save to say that we all hope that this stupidity will end very soon and wish for the safety of everyone involved.

Oisin Murphy warned off for 14 months

In recent news, of course the Russian invasion of the Ukraine occupied many minds with the International Olympic Committee along with other equine sporting bodies asking the governing boards of the sport to exclude all Russian athletes from competing internationally as well as removing any international equestrian meetings scheduled to be held in Russia this year. In racing, Great Britain’s champion flat jockey Oisin Murphy has been banned from race riding for fourteen months following his persistent reliance on both drink and drugs. He would have had a stiffer ban but for his admission to the charges and his willingness to undergo therapy to cure him of his misdemeanours. Frankel has become the first British stallion to head all the racing lists in England and Ireland since Mill Reef. He takes the mantel on from his father Galileo who held the title for eleven years.

At Palms Springs in Florida and another in Doha in Qatar, the first major dressage 5 star FEI competitions of the year were held.  In Florida, Adrienne Lyle won the 5 star Grand prix riding Salvino with 76.50%. This was a better score than she posted in Tokyo when being part of the USA Silver medal team. The second place was taken by fellow American, Ashley Holzer riding Valentine with a score of 70.696%, some way off the winner’s score. The third was from Sweden, Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven riding Devanto. In the Grand Prix Special, Adrienne Lyle kept up the pressure on her rivals by taking the class with 79.511%. This was the highest score by any American rider since the Olympics. Devanto ridden by Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven came second, but a full 10% behind the winner with Christoph Koschel from Germany riding Favorito 11 coming third. There were only five riders competing in this Grand Prix.

Frederic Wandres takes Grand Prix

There was a second Grand Prix for those wanting to compete in a Grand Prix Freestyle rather than the Special. German team rider Frederic Wandres took to the stage to take this second Grand Prix riding Bluetooth with 74.631% finishing ahead of the other twelve combinations. The second and third places were taken by American riders, Benjamin Ebeling riding Illuster Van de Kampert who took second with 72,47% and Charlotte Jorst was third with 71.674% only just ahead of Susan Pape from Great Britain who came home with a score of 71.609%. In the Freestyle, Frederic Wandres again took the honours with 81.165%. The second was taken by another European, this time from Belgium, Laurence Vaommeslaghe riding Edison with 79.430%. The third was also to deny the USA with a podium finish as the Spaniard Juan Matute Guimon riding Quantico rolled in third with 78.925%.

In Doha, the second 5 star dressage FEI Grand Prix took place. This was a very close class, and more exciting as a result. There was only 0.565% between the first four. The winner, just, was Sweden Patrik Kittel riding Touchdown with 77.652% heading the twenty combinations who came forward. The class was a European affair with all the riders coming from European states with the exception of one from Qatar.  The second and third podium spots were taken by riders from The Netherlands – Dinja Van Liere riding Hermes and Hans Peter Minderhoud in third. The fourth home, so nearly qualifying for podium glory was Henri Ruoste from Finland, missing out by just 0.065%.In the Grand Prix Freestyle, Henri Rouste riding Kontestro DB took the honours with 84.254%, a personal best score ever for him. The second was Patrik Kittel in another close contest with 83.890% and third was Hans Peter Minderhoud riding Glock’s Dream Boy. There were seven who came forward for the Grand Prix Special in this Doha meeting. The class was won by Tommie Visser, riding for The Netherlands on Genesis Begijnhoeve with 71.787% with Charlotte Dafalque riding Botticelli for Belgium. In third was German rider Jill Hollweg-Deridder.

Like with dressage, there were two 5 star CSI showjumping competitions over the past few days, one in the USA in Florida and the second in Doha in the Qatar. In Florida, the main Grand Prix had 39 entries of which a large number were forced to retire. There were only five who got a clear round for the first round of the 1.60m track and of those only three managed a double clear. The class was won by Bertram Allen riding Pacino Amero for Ireland and the second was won by another Irish rider, Paul O’Shea riding Chacelloress. The third place was taken by Bliss Heers riding Antidote de Mars for the United States. There were riders from fifteen different countries competing.

In Qatar, forty two combinations came forward for the main Grand Prix of the week sponsored by Longines and Al Shaqab Bank. The course was designed by Uliano Vezzani from Italy where he composed a course of 13 obstacles with 16 jumping efforts required with a time allowed of 82 seconds. In the first round there were 18 clear rounds with the fastest rounds from Sweden with Henrick Von Eckermann riding King Edward and Evlina Tovek riding Winnetou de las Hamente. Germany’s Marcus Enhing riding Stargold was the third fastest.

In round two, the top prize of 135,000 euros was taken by Marcus Ehning with a clear and in 33.98 seconds. He was followed by Sweden’s Evlina Tovek with another clear in 36.51 and third was Maikel Van der Vleuten riding Beauville Z in 36.73 seconds. The fourth double clear round and the only other double clear was from Harrie Smolders from The Netherlands.

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