The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud has been unbeatable this week in Gothenburg. His two outstanding performances aboard Glock’s Flirt have earned him back-to-back wins and the coveted status of Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ winner.

Minderhoud & Flirty

Minderhoud and “Flirty” scored 82.357 in today’s Reem Acra FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, besting Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven by a mere .928 points.

Of Glock’s Flirt, Minderhoud’s partner of two years, the Dutch rider couldn’t shower enough praise. “He’s a great, honest horse in the ring. He doesn’t make mistakes and gives everything to you. It’s so much fun having him, you can really rely on him. He was proud today and I felt that.”

Flirty may give his all, but its clear Minderhoud does as well. Having started out as a groom, he admitted that today’s win was a longtime ambition, “It was always a dream to do it myself. I was really going for it,” he said, adding, “It was my sixth final and I was never on the podium. After the Grand Prix win there were two long days to wait. Normally I’m not very nervous but I really wanted to win it.”

Minderhoud’s quiet, fluid riding made for a seamless connection between horse and rider, his cues imperceptible to the crowd. Such a connection was not lost on Ground Jury President, Sweden’s Gustav Svalling, “This horse [Glock’s Flirt] 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.

Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven & Don Auriello made Sweden proud with their 2nd place

Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven (Sweden) and Don Auriello claimed the 2nd place on the podium with a score of 81.429. Don Auriello was certainly feeling the music – his flashy, rhythmic movements impressing the crowd. When asked about Don Auriello’s performance, Vilhelmson Silfven admitted the big bay is happy to show off. “He wants to be the center of attention all the time. It’s a great feeling riding a horse who enjoys the audience.”

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (Germany) claimed the 3rd position with her stallion Unee BB, scoring 80.25. The music was powerful and began with “I had a dream” and segued with another statement in a girls voice saying, “I had a dream that all living creatures could respect each other,” A moving statement and a moving performance by Unee BB.

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl & Unee BB

In the press conference, von Bredow-Werndl expressed her satisfaction with Unee BB’s piaffes and passages, though noted a few small mistakes in execution during canter work kept her from the top spot. When asked what place she was looking for coming into the Freestyle, von Bredow-Werndl didn’t hesitate, “First,” she laughed, “every one of us could have won today, but today he [Minderhoud] was the right one.”

Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Watermill Scandic finished fourth, but he won by a long shot when it came to applause. The crowd was in fact so enthusiastic that the chestnut stallion decided he’d had enough and Kittel had a catch-ride for the victory gallop.

For more pictures of today’s rides visit the gallery.

Article by Peg Fairfield-Bixby & Ashley Fairfield-Remeza