In a word-excellent.
My friend and I arrived yesterday. It was a circuitous route, since it involved dropping my daughter off at my brother and sister-in-laws in Cincinnati first. We checked in to our hotel, figured out the shuttle schedule, and made a quick grocery run for essentials. Before I go any further, I have to mention that hands-down, I have never met a more gracious, friendly, and helpful group of people.
Today was the first group of riders for the Grand Prix tests. These scores determine the placings by country, as well as who will ride in the GP Special on Wednesday, or the GP Freestyle on Friday. In total, the rides were not earth-shattering. The Dutch are kicking ass, of course, but there were only half a dozen scores over 70% out of 32 rides–in other words mere mortals! I don’t say this to mean that the riders/riding aren’t good, just nothing earth shattering yet. Fantastic rides were put up by Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED) on Nadine, Imke Schellekens-Bartels (NED) and Sunrise–the current leader with a 73.447%–Christoph Koschel (GER) and Donnperignon, and Fiona Bigwood (GBR) on Wie-Atlantico de Ymas. Both Todd Flettrich on Otto and Katherine Bateson-Chandler (both USA) on Nartan had great rides, but small mistakes that put them in the high 60s. (Below is a gallery of various photos–click on any photo to enlarge.)
Of course, it wasn’t all serious dressage watching–there is shopping and other stuff to do too.
There are hundreds of vendors, from tack to footing and fencing, to supplements, to horse trailers, to you-name-it. All at world class even inflated prices. But, again, but people are REALLY nice, and I expected $11 for a lunch burrito. The venue is impressive–it’s been 11 years since I’ve been to Kentucky, and the horse park was not much of anything then. Now it really is a huge, international quality venue. The walk to the main arena is beautiful, it’s clean and pretty (even in a drizzly rain), and there are LOTS of porta-potties.
I enjoy (window mostly) shopping as much as the next girl. But, I’m not only trying to be fiscally prudent, but I have minimal space to bring stuff home, so I’m trying to be “good”. So far, my favorite stop was the USDF offices. It’s a beautiful building, with great exhibits. They had raffles for cool stuff going on, too. The Platinum Performance people had tons of their energy/snack bars, and I’ll be darned if they aren’t GLUTEN FREE! It’s like I died and went to heaven. Add to that Dressage Today had free bottled waters, and I was one super happy camper. Finding out that Carl Hester will be book-signing in their office on Wednesday made me squeal like a school girl (literally, much to the chagrin of my travel partner, Barbara). I couldn’t pass up a “tasting” at the Maker’s Mark bourbon stand, either. I mean, this IS Kentucky!
I have more pictures (and video, which sadly I can’t post on this blog), but uploading is slow and will have to wait…
Tomorrow–the top 2 qualifiers from every country. I’m pretty sure my socks are gonna be knocked off, so I’m getting to bed!