Sunday, April 4, 2010

Athina has the Golden Ticket

In Italy's Toscana Tour -- four weeks of jumping competitions at the Equestrian Center of Arezzo, Tuscany -- there are the Bronze Tour riders, the Silver Tour riders, and the Gold Tour riders. Obviously, the Gold Tour riders take the highest jumps, qualifying for the the biggest prizes and competing for points in the World Equestrian Games, this year to take place in Lexington, Kentucky. This year is Athina Onassis de Miranda's first time doing the Gold Tour. This year has also been occasion for her first time competing against her husband, Alvaro aka Doda.

What is new in her training? Well, for starters, since the latter months of last year, she and Doda have been training with Jean-Maurice Bonneau, a French chef d'equipe. It's not that their previous, and longtime, trainer, Nelson Pessoa, was bad. Good lord, no. But sometimes a person can be stuck and the only way to be un-stuck is to change the tune. So Bonneau might have a completely fresh approach and different ideas.

It strikes me how well Athina seems to work with Welcome & Ricardo. Her newest horse, Tomboy, is a helleva great horse, but relationships take time and lots of patience.

In Arezzo, on Friday, April 2nd, Athina participated in Classes 86 and 87 of the Gold Tour. At 9:30 in the morning she mounted Welcome du Petit Vivier for jumping over 1m40 (or 1.40 m) fences. Doda mounted his 13-year-old stallion named Picasso for the same event. Husband and wife had cause to celebrate mutual success. Doda and Picasso finished in 26 min., 18 sec without penalties. Athina & Welcome, who is an 11-year-old gelding, ended up with a time of 30:66 without penalties. None of the 80 riders beat Doda's time, so he won the top prize of 1320 euros. Athina scored 20th place, just a notch above last place for the cutoff. Only the Top 21 were considered "placed competitors." Athina won 40 euros.

Class 87 involved 1m45 jumps and began at 1630 (4:30 PM). Doda rode his 9-year-old chestnut stallion Norson and again won with his time of 70:79 and without penalties. Athina rode Ricardo 500 and placed far below the qualifying cutoff at #42. She had faults, two, and thus her 4 points, since every fault = 2 points. Her time was 83:37.

The next day, Saturday APRIL 3rd, Athina participated in the Gold Tour's Class 96 of 1m45 jumps. The best 30 riders from Friday's Class 87, excluding the Top 20 who already qualified, were set to compete in this one. Doda, as winner of Class 86 & 87, sat this one out. But Athina had ranked #42 so she fell within the range for Class 96 on Saturday. She jumped on Ricardo. They were in the non-placed ranks at #48 with a time of 56:42 and 4 points for their 2 mistakes. So they didn't go on to the next phase that day.

But Sunday.... at 0815 84 riders participated in the Gold's class 104 of 1m40 jumps. Doda & Picasso earned a very fast time of 71:59. In terms of speed, they were faster than the pair who finished at 17th place, but because of 2 mistakes (four penalties) they placed at #30 instead. Athina & Welcome made 2.5 mistakes and had a time of 77:56. They placed at #50. The Polish rider who finished at 22nd place (the last qualified place) was just a hair slower than Athina, but only took 1 penalty, and a good many others had slower times but better performance/placement than Athina.

Class 105 was the Grand Prix at 1630. Athina and Ricardo jumped over 1m50 fences and acquired 13 penalties in the course, with a final time of 88:25. Doda rode Norson and actually placed right below Athina's #40. Doda took one more penalty than Athina and was clocked at 93:70. The top 15 riders qualify for the best of Toscana Tour Gold Tour/Class 144 next weekend.

See all results from Toscana Tour 2010 Week Three

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