Dutch rider Hans Peter Minderhoud achieved the dream of a lifetime when he won the Reem Acra FEI Dressage World Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Monday, March 28.
The European team-gold and individual-bronze medallist put in an excellent performance aboard Glock’s Flirt to score 82.357 in the freestyle and claim the title. He edged out the local favourite, Swedish rider Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfen, who finished just 0.928 per cent behind Minderhoud with Don Auriello. Third was Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl aboard Unee B — the same combination that had finished third at last year’s World Cup in Las Vegas.
With only five riders to go, Vilhelmson-Silfven and Don Auriello were the first to break the 80% barrier with a brilliant performance that included some complex transitions and earned them 81.429. Von Bredow-Werndl followed with a strong 80.350% despite two mistakes, but it was third-last rider Mindrhoud that wowed the judges. He and 15-year-old Glock’s Flirt posted a 82.357% and claimed the title.
Minderhoud, who also won Friday’s Grand Prix, was delighted: “It was really special for me”, he said. “This was my sixth final and I’ve never been on the podium, although I was twice really close. I started off as a groom and it was always my dream to win it, so it’s very emotional.
He admitted feeling the pressure in the ring: “Normally I’m not really nervous but today I thought I really want this! So I’m really happy that I won!” he continued before heaping praise on his horse. “I have him now for two years and when I got him he was a nice Grand Prix horse — I didn’t expect him to be a winner but he’s just getting better and better.
“He’s such a great honest horse in the ring, he doesn’t want to make any mistakes – you really feel that he gives just everything to you! I’ve also been riding around with not-so-easy mares and not-so-easy stallions, so it’s so much fun to have a horse like him. You can really rely on him, and that’s an amazing feeling. My horse is almost like a dog, you can take him everywhere. He’s very sweet and always tries for you, he’s a really good boy!”
But Ground Jury President, Sweden’s Gustav Svalling, also pointed out how attuned Minderhoud and Glock’s Firt seemed to be. “This is a very obedient horse, but it is also the combination between the rider and horse – you can see they really like each other,” he said.
Minderhoud had another special reason to be happy about his victory — his life-partner, Edward Gal. Gal won the World Cup aboard Totilas in 2010. Asked how he felt about taking the same title that his partner had landed six years ago, Minderhoud replied: “I think it will be very good for our relationship that I have also won it now!”
Images: top, Hans Peter Minderhoud kisses Glock’s Flirt after winning the Reem Acra FEI Dressage World Cup 2016 Final in Gothenburg, courtesy of FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic; bottom: Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Firt, courtesy of FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst via Reuters