Articles: Press Release
Barisone Makes Right Choice with Neruda; van Grunsven Benefits and Wins
Freestyle at Exquis World Dressage Masters
United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
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Web site: www.usef.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2009
By Joanie Morris
Wellington, FL - The Exquis World Dressage Masters finale showcased the
world's best dressage riders under the lights in the International Arena
at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Club on Saturday night. The
temperature was unseasonably low but the quality of dressage was
The reining Olympic Champion, Anky van Grunsven, lived dangerously in
the Grand Prix on Friday, she only qualified for the Freestyle when
Michael Barisone opted for the Grand Prix Special (see story below).
Painted Black was uncooperative throughout the Grand Prix and van
Grunsven made two errors of course, but, in the freestyle, those
mistakes were a thing of the past. The Dutch rider showcased all of her
experience and all of the quality of IPS Painted Black and he delivered
when the stakes were high - their score of 79.6% meant the Dutch rider
took home a lucrative reward of more than $21,000.
"He was fine," said van Grunsven about her ride under the lights on the
Dutch stallion. "Yesterday I was really surprised he was so spooky.
Today I was really happy with him. Last weekend he was maybe a bit more
flashy, but with the trip and the weather I can only be very, very happy
with how he was today. He tried and no mistakes... Our confidence was
America's hopes were high when Steffen Peters, who convincingly won the
Grand Prix on Friday, went to task with his incredibly difficult
freestyle with Ravel. The 12-year-old Dutch gelding always tries but two
mistakes early in the test made it an uphill climb for his San Diego
It wasn't enough, Ravel and Peters ended up third on a score of 76.6%.
They took home more than $11,000 for their effort in the freestyle.
"He was a little fresh in the warm-up," said Peters. "So in the first
piaffe, I maybe went into it a little bit too passively and he took a
walk step, when I corrected him he said, 'That's not a good idea'. I was
very, very happy with the last two piaffes. There were wonderful moments
in the test but the big mistakes were evident."
Ravel, who is owned by Akiko Yamazaki, was unsettled in the first
piaffe, throwing his head up briefly and made a mistake in the beginning
of the canter work, but he improved throughout the difficult test and by
the end was really sparkling.
"We were very sorry for Steffen because it was a wonderful ride except
for a couple of small resistances," said Great Britain's Stephen Clarke,
who was president of the Ground Jury.
"The bottom line is every single horse gets a little smart in the
arena," said Peters. "He's been so consistent and so honest this took me
a little bit by surprise. At the end of the day they're just horses and
we're humans and these things do happen."
Hans-Peter Minderhoud, who was a teammate of van Grunsven's in Hong Kong
- where the Dutch team won silver - slipped ahead of Peters with a crowd
pleasing performance on Exquis Escapado.
"The last six months he's improved a lot," said Minderhoud of the
16-year-old veteran. "Today he did his best freestyle ever."
The second US rider in the Freestyle was Jane Hannigan and Maksymillian
who ended up eighth. The top riders got to chose if they wanted to ride
in the Freestyle or the special. All the riders in the freestyle
finished above 70%, a testament to the level of dressage.
Barisone Shines in Sportsmanship Gesture and Wins Grand Prix Special
Michael Barisone had a tough decision to make after his fifth place
finish in the Grand Prix on Friday. The New Jersey based rider made the
cut for the lucrative Freestyle but made a tremendous gesture of
sportsmanship allowing van Grunsven into the Freestyle and opting for
the Grand Prix Special instead. The gamble paid off.
Barisone and Jane Sulwasky's Neruda put in a stunning effort in the
Grand Prix Special and won with a score of 69.292% over Tosca Visser van
Der Meer and Moorland Opportunity from The Netherlands.
"These guys have made such an effort to come from Europe," said
Barisone. "Thousands of people are coming tonight to see Anky. I felt it
was the right thing to do to ride in the Special and let her into the
Freestyle. Anky was ninth, the difference was tiny but if it makes a big
difference to let them see Anky it is my responsibility to the
organizers and sponsors to let the people who are going to fill this
place up come to see the people they are paying to see."
Barisone and Neruda cantered off with $9,500 bringing his two day
winning close to $14,000. The Dutch gelding served as the reserve horse
for Barisone at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong last summer. He
never got his chance in the ring in China but made in impression on the
dressage world today.
"Obviously Steffen and Ashley and Anky of course are going to be really
strong," said Barisone after his afternoon ride. "I have several reasons
why I did the Special. I had a really incredible time being on the team
in Honk Kong. I really want to go to Kentucky (for the 2010 Alltech FE I
World Equestrian Games) next year... that means that your first test has
to be the good one. The consistency of riding the Grand Prix, the way it
is written on paper, I thought it was more important to ride a set
Barisone was pleased with Neruda's effort, out of all the tests he's
performed with the 14-year-old gelding, this one ranked about third.
"We never worry about the piaffe and passage with this horse," said
Barisone. "But I'm working really hard on changes to level it out.
Credibility is what I need. It worked out great today but even if it
hadn't it would be ok, we are trying to build the sport."
Arlene 'Tuny' Page was third with Wild One and was honored for her
efforts in helping to pull off the very first World Dressage Masters in
The night ended with a Reining exhibition by van Grunsven. She considers
the second sport to be her hobby but looks very completely at home in a
For complete results and more information, please see:
www.equestriansport.com . To follow
the World Dressage Masters as it travels the globe, please visit:
For American media requests, please contact Joanie Morris at
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