Friday Night, October 1, 2010 – A Night to Remember !
Earlier in the week, the WEG 2010 spectators in the main arena of the Lexington Horse Park embraced the Spanish team and, in particular, the pair of Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz & FUEGO XII in such an enthusiastic manner that FUEGO was openly being referenced as the “ White Totilas “. This led to heightened expectations for the Friday night Musical Freestyle and paved the path for an evening that not many attendants would soon forget….
Following Laura Bechtolsheimer & Mistral Hojris for England with a score of 85.35 %, Juan Manuel Munoz & Fuego XII ignited the stadium with a magnificent performance that few mainstream dressage enthusiasts could have expected them to produce. The Games were expected to draw 300,000 visitors and it felt as though they were all in attendance tonight.
Astrid Appels of eurodressage wrote: “Prancing into the ring with his knees almost touching his nose, the grey stallion demanded maximum attention. But just before the Spanish pair were to go before the judges, Diaz stopped to settle himself and Fuego joined in, leaning down to scratch his nose on his foreleg, leaving spectators a little bemused. Smiles turned to gasps of delight however as they stormed into the routine set to their Spanish soundtrack, and there were spontaneous cheers during Fuego’s first extended trot. There was lots more to come however, including one-handed one-tempi changes, and by the time Diaz steered his horse up the centre line – in passage and once again using only one hand – there was near-hysteria around the ring. The showman Diaz couldn’t contain his excitement at the halt, but very nearly parted company with his horse who shot forward as the Spaniard whipped off his hat and thumped the air with his fist in delight. The crowd went wild, and voiced their disapproval when this partnership were awarded 81.450 which they thought wasn’t nearly enough, but it was a spectacular score and well deserved. ”
In the United States, Mary Phelps at Dressage Daily wrote: “ OK, I’m in love, and everyone sitting beside me, behind me, in front of me, and in the crowd during the Dressage Freestyle was thinking the same thing. The audience loved Fuego XII the Pura Raza Espanola (PRE) Stallion from Spain and his rider Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz. He won crowd Gold at the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games, Kentucky 2010. The thirteen year old stallion by Utrerano VII X Elgido represents the culmination of the development of the Spanish breeding program which represents the classical qualities of everything anyone would want in a dressage horse. When he does the piaffe/passage you can see it in his face he would be happy to be doing it all day long. Our horsemarket and Dressagedaily manager Liz Ruggiero made sure to bring her hanky for this one, and she needed it. It was impossible to take a bad picture of this horse, and the rider charmed us as well. Tonight, Totilas is christened the “Black Fuego” – “ FUEGO NEGRO” as the hands of the thousands of spectators awarded the pair their hearts and the Crowd Gold ! “
Our deepest appreciation to Juan Manuel Munoz, Jose Antonio Garcia, and Rafael Ortiz for their memorable performances that promoted our noble PRE to more equestrian enthusiasts around the world than Spanish breeders have done since Rafael Soto & INVASOR won a silver medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.