OLYMPIC-LEVEL and international championship dressage riders and horses pulled in the crowds this weekend at Oliva Nova, with the Grand Prix winner Víctor Álvarez on Curioso XXV winning the freestyle to music event.
With an average score of 6.9 out of 10, just 0.8 of a point ahead of second-placed Luis Lucio on Os-Nervi, Álvarez shared the podium with Juan José Ruiz on Señorío I, who netted a very respectable score of an average of 6.5 out of 10.
Similar scores were seen in the Classic 2, Intermediate I and Reserve Grand Prix, where the margin was exceptionally tight between competitors - particularly in the Classic 2 where the winning score was 6.19 out of 10 and the bottom-placed combination earned 5.81 out of 10.
This meant only fractions of a point separated the competitors, and the difference in levels of performance during the test would be barely perceptible even to the highly-trained eye.
Excellent results were also seen by competitors in the national Paraequestrian Dressage Championships, which ran concurrently, particularly among riders from the Valencia region.
First place and gold-medal-winner in the Grade I test, Juan Domínguez on Goraccio achieved a very reasonable score of 6.7 out of 10, well ahead of silver medallist Fernando Fernández on his mare Reina with 5.9 and bronze medallist Julio Beltrán on Tecloso VI, with 5.1 out of 10.
Scores were much tighter in the Grade II and III tests, with gold medallists Natalia Quintana on Liguster and Sonia Villalba on Donauzauber earning 6.58 and 6.68 respectively, their nearest rivals being Claudia Lazcoz on Afortunado VII with 6.53 in the Grade II and Deborah Cerrillo on Winwood with 6.67 in the Grade III.
Raquel Mangas on Winnie the Pooh with 6.33 took the silver medal in the Paraequestrian Grade VI Championships, ahead of Valencian rider Olga Jordá on Alquimia with 6.53.
The Paraequestrian Championships feature disabled riders, many of whom are wheelchair-bound or otherwise with severely restricted movement, and others who are partially or completely blind or deaf.
These brave riders have managed to overcome their physical impairments on horseback, competing in dressage at levels requiring extensive experience and talent, not only on the day of the competition but on a daily basis whilst schooling and training their horses.
The next round of equestrian competitions to be held at Oliva Nova will be in two weeks' time, with the two-star national showjumping championships, where fences range from approximately 3'6" (1.10m) through to 4'6" (1.35m) in the Grand Prix.
Photo: Grand Prix freestyle to music winner Víctor Álvarez on Curioso XXV