Two days of competition and two victories for the German Frederic Wandres, who claimed the Grand Prix freestyle presented by Generali at the Lyon World Cup stage this Friday. Already a clear winner of the Grand Prix presented by CRE-ARA on Thursday, the rider completes the double in the freestyle event with an impressive score of 82.995, riding his stylish 13-year-old Oldenburg, Bluetooth OLD, for the first time in Lyon.
Set to an energetic soundtrack featuring Michael Jackson's songs, the pair delivered a brilliant and dynamic performance with a vibrant and expressive horse, captivating the entire audience at the Longines Equita Lyon arena.
"It's incredible to win here again! I had an exceptional feeling with Bluetooth OLD today as well. I really enjoyed being in Lyon, with the audience and my horse. Yesterday, he was already fantastic, but there are always things to improve. After watching the video of the Grand Prix, I tried to push a little further in the piaffe. However, I made a mistake in one of the pirouettes after the extended canter. Nevertheless, he was still very fresh. We managed to deliver a very strong performance," said the champion after leaving the arena. "This is also the result of all the work done with the German team since the European Championship this summer, which concludes with this double performance. I have shown consistency, which is often rewarded by the judges," Frederic Wandres explained, revealing his plans to prepare for the 2024 events with his horses in the sunny state of Florida, where his horse is expected to participate in the Wellington competition only.
Germany, almost always Germany, indeed! Out of 13 editions of the Lyon World Cup Grand Prix freestyle in dressage, it's the ninth time the German national anthem has played. Yet, nine other nations in this competition could have challenged German dominance, including Denmark and its representative, Nanna Skodborg Merrald.
On the second day, but in the same position, Danish rider Blue Hors St. Schufro once again claimed the second spot on the podium on Friday with an impressive average score of 82.995. The couple received enthusiastic applause from the Lyon audience, who appreciated the performance of the beautiful bay horse with airy movements and great height in its actions, almost resembling a dancer. "It's the first time I performed this RLM, and I enjoyed it very much. I love the music and the pirouette/passage combination. My horse didn't compete for part of the season because he was dedicated to breeding, so I'm happy to be here with him today in Lyon and achieve this performance," the Danish rider commented.
The feat of Pauline Basquin
Sometimes, there are third-place finishes that are worth their weight in gold. The Lyon audience recognized this as they cheered for Pauline Basquin, the first Frenchwoman to step onto the podium at the Lyon World Cup dressage event. The rider from the Cadre Noir and her faithful Sertorius de Rima Z IFCE achieved this feat with mastery, earning a score of 80.815, breaking her personal record in the process. The Frenchwoman didn't hide her joy and let it burst out, raising her fist towards the sky upon hearing the result.
"It's a great improvement, but it's mainly the result of the work of the entire French team staff, especially Jean Morel (national selector) and Laurent Gallice (national technical advisor)," the humble champion analyzed. "Sertorius is more collected and has improved in the flying changes. But again, progress is not just technical; it's a comprehensive effort." The enthusiasm of the audience didn't go unnoticed by Pauline Basquin. "I have to say it's quite amazing to feel carried by the audience. During the performance, my horse was with me, and feeling the crowd's fervor is quite moving. I'm proud, but it's not just me alone; I'm proud of my horse and proud for the entire French team. I'm proud of where we've come today."
Sylvie Robert, the President of Longines Equita Lyon, an international competition, expressed her delight at the event's success: "I thank the FEI for their trust in entrusting us with the organization of this World Cup stage, as well as the French Equestrian Federation and the Generali Group, which allow us to sustain events of this scale. We had almost 7,000 people in the stands this afternoon. I'm also thrilled to see French dressage continually progressing, with an eye on the 2024 Paris Olympics."
As for the rest of the French representatives, Morgan Barbançon secured sixth place with Habana Libre A, while Alexandre Ayache on Jolene and French champion Arnaud Serre paired with James Bond de Massa finished twelfth and thirteenth, respectively, in this event.
Source: Press Release
Photo: PSV - Jean Morel