Live from Omaha!

Live from Omaha!
On the scene at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Friday, April 17, 2015

First-Ever Open Rehearsal Gives Audiences a Sneak Peek at World Cup Freestyle Finale

Under the watchful eyes of her coach, Debbie McDonald, and US dressage chef d'equipe Robert Dover, Laura Graves rehearses her freestyle aboard Verdades. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.

Somebody at the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), which governs the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final, figured out that enthusiasts will pay to watch riders rehearse their freestyles. In an early-morning VIP-ticketholder-only event, a hundred or so diehards clutched their coffees and watched the world's best riders (sometimes with horses, sometimes without) do their sound checks and run through some choreography in final preparations for tomorrow's Grand Prix Freestyle.

By virtue of earning scores over the 58-percent mark in yesterday's Grand Prix, all 18 competitors here in Las Vegas punched their freestyle tickets. The freestyle results alone will decide the 2015 World Cup Dressage Final champion. So everything's riding on the music, if you'll pardon the expression.

Some riders, including Britain's Charlotte Dujardin (who won yesterday's Grand Prix with Valegro), Dutchman Edward Gal (second with Glock's Undercover), and Germany's Isabell Werth (eighth with El Santo NRW), opted not to ride. They walked in, listened to their music being played over the Thomas & Mack Center's sound system, made any necessary comments to the audio coordinator, and left when satisfied.
Sweden's Malin Hamilton brought not her horse but her daughter to the sound check. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.
Others, including third-placed Steffen Peters (Legolas 92) and Laura Graves (fifth with Verdades), rode partial or complete run-throughs. Peters rode pieces of his well-known "Under Pressure" freestyle, first in a warm-up outline; later, after having his music volume turned up, he put Legolas together and did a few lines of tempi changes on the diagonal and piaffe-passage transitions. Graves rode her entire freestyle after halting near H -- near the shiny World Cup Final trophy that scared him yesterday -- and feeding Diddy a sugar cube. The horse got a little backed off in the final piaffe-passage tour down center line, so that got repeated.

So what can I tell you about the freestyles? For starters, Malin Hamilton (pictured above) appropriately chose a Fleetwood Mac medley for her horse, Fleetwood. And if you didn't see it in Florida this winter, you're going to love Mikala Munter Gundersen's ride with My Lady to "All That Jazz," "Big Spender," and music from the movie Burlesque. The big, brassy tunes suit the big, brassy mare and her tempos very well.

The London Philharmonic shows up in a few routines, as does the artist Two Steps from Hell (I know this only because I was Shazam-ing the heck out of the soundtracks in an effort to learn the more obscure song titles). Agnete Kirk Thinggaard of Denmark would like for you to "Call Me Maybe." Russian Inessa Merkulova's soundtrack for Mister X is too cut-and-paste, with unrelated songs, for this music teacher's daughter's taste; but I loved him with the Bossa Nova -- very Mad Men. And Isabell Werth's music is fun -- David Bowie and Queen among the artists.

It's sure to be exciting. See you tomorrow for the big finale!

1 comment:

  1. I am surprised at the amount of American/British. Do folks use music from their own cultural traditions as well?