Gothenburg, Sweden – March 27, 2016 – The sixth time proved to be the charm for Hans Peter Minderhoud, as the Dutch rider stepped into the spotlight and seized the 2016 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final. Always a key player for the competitive Dutch team but without an individual championship victory of his own, Minderhoud knew this was his
He and Glock’s Flirt turned in a foot-perfect effort in a freestyle that showed off the gelding’s strong points, earning a score of 82.357 percent. While Minderhoud might have been considered the favorite after winning Friday’s Grand Prix, he knew he couldn’t take anything for granted, with several of his competitors close at his heels.
“It was really special for me,” Minderhoud said. “It was my sixth final and I was never on the podium, but twice I was really close. After the Grand Prix, it was two long days. I thought now I have the chance, now I really want to win it! And I am really happy that I won.”
Cheering from the sidelines was Minderhoud’s partner Edward Gal, winner of the World Cup Final in 2010 on the spectacular Totilas. Minderhoud joked at the press conference after his victory that winning his own title was probably a good thing for the pair’s relationship. Gal, who had hoped to compete in the Final and certainly would have been a tough contender, sat out this year’s event after a fall from his horse while schooling at home, one of a number of high-profile athletes to miss the Final.
With the door open for a new rider to step up and claim their first World Cup Final title, the pressure was on. Minderhoud had the perfect partner in his quest for the win; he describes Flirt as an easygoing, straightforward horse who wants to perform for his rider and has shaped up to be a stronger competitor than Minderhoud first imagined.
“When I got him, he was a nice Grand Prix horse, but I didn’t expect him to be a winner,” Minderhoud said. “He’s just getting better and better. He is such a great, honest horse in the ring. He doesn’t want to make any mistakes. You really feel he gives just everything for you. You can really rely on him; it’s an amazing feeling.
“He was proud today – I felt it,” he added.
Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén’s bid to bring home the title to the host country of Sweden fell just short, as a couple of mistakes held her back from achieving the score she needed to defeat Minderhoud. The first of the final group of five to compete, she pulled out all the stops on Don Auriello, showing off one-handed pirouettes and a complex choreography tailor made to the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Lövsta Stuteri and Antonia Ax:son Johnson. Vilhelmson-Silfvén trains with Louise Nathorst, the only prior Swedish winner of the World Cup Final.
According to his rider, Don Auriello loves to perform, and he was just a bit overeager at the start of the test, refusing to stand still in the halt. A little problem in the tempi changes also brought the pair’s score down in what was a very close competition: they earned a score of 81.429 percent, not too far behind Minderhoud’s mark. Vilhelmson-Silfvén and Don Auriello received a very warm welcome from their home crowd, which saw them out with an enthusiastic standing ovation at the close of their ride.
“The feeling to get into the arena with all this great audience is indescribable,” Vilhelmson-Silfvén said. “It was a very special moment. I think Don Auriello felt great, with a lot of power in him but still very confident. It was a pity I couldn’t stand still in my first halt – that was the weak point, I think – but otherwise I’m so happy.”
Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl proved she can never be counted out, taking third place at the World Cup Final for the second year in a row. This year, however, she was clearly disappointed not to capitalize on the opportunity in the absence of the dominating Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro.
“Any one of us could have won today. You were the one who had no mistakes,” von Bredow-Werndl said, turning to Minderhoud. “You were the best one today and the right winner. I had two big mistakes; that was a shame because you don’t want to make a mistake in the Final. Being third, even so, it’s super.”
Charlotte Jorst was the top finisher for the United States, taking 12th place on a score of 73.232 percent. Her freestyle with Kastel’s Nintendo featured “Time to Say Goodbye,” “Fight Song,” and even a bit of “Amazing Grace” during her canter pirouettes. Guenter Seidel, also of the U.S., had a tough time with a very anxious Zero Gravity but displayed impressive tact and finesse in giving the horse a positive ride. They finished 18th on a score of 67.464 percent. Click to read more about the U.S. contenders.
Results: Reem Acra World Cup Final Grand Prix Freestyle
1. Hans Peter Minderhoud/NED/Glock’s Flirt/82.357
2. Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén/SWE/Don Auriello/81.429
3. Jessica von Bredow-Werndl/GER/Unee BB/80.464
4. Patrik Kittel/SWE/Watermill Scandic/78.946
5. Anna Kasprzak/DEN/Donnperignon/78.625
6. Fabienne Lütkemeier/GER/D’Agostino FRH/78.339
7. Inessa Merkulova/RUS/Mister X/78.232
8. Judy Reynolds/IRL/Vancouver K/77.339
9. Agnete Kirk Thinggaard/DEN/Jojo AZ/76.250
10. Marcela Krinke Susmelj/SUI/Smeyers Molberg/74.946
11. Lyndal Oatley/AUS/Sandro Boy 9/73.589
12. Charlotte Jorst/USA/Kastel’s Nintendo/73.232
13. Beata Stremler/POL/Rubicon D/73.179
14. Emilie Nyreröd/SWE/Miata/73.143
15. Mary Hanna/AUS/Umbro/71.696
16. Terhi Stegars/FIN/Axis TSf/69.268
17. Tatiana Dorofeeva/RUS/Kartsevo Upperville/68.464
18. Guenter Seidel/USA/Zero Gravity/67.464