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September 30, 2012

D-Niro Dominates Grand Prix Freesyle At Devon

Jacqueline Brooks and D-Niro impressed the judges and brought a roaring applause from the packed stands with their Grand Prix freestyle at Dressage At Devon.

Sept. 29, Devon, Pa.

Over the past month, Canada's Jacqueline Brooks has lived and breathed her new Grand Prix freestyle for D-Niro in preparation for Dressage At Devon.

Working with Tamara Williamson, Brooks created a freestyle with the music of four Canadian artists by starting with a drum track specifically designed for the 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (D-Day—Alitalia, Napoleon 625). Then they added the rest of the instruments and some light vocals.

When Brooks rode down centerline at Devon, she realized she didn’t have the same horse she'd had at the Olympic Games.

“He learned so much in that ring in London,” said Brooks, 45. “I was excited about him after London, but now I’m really excited about him.”

The crowd loved the musical freestyle set to Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah," Joni Mitchell’s "Big Yellow Taxi," Spirit of the West’s "Home For A Rest" and Neil Young’s "Heart Of Gold." The judges agreed and gave the pair a 74.30 percent.

In second place, Pierre St. Jacques scored a 73.50 percent to a medley of songs sliced together by Karen Robinson.

In the qualifier round on Friday, St. Jacques said Lucky Tiger, a 17-year-old Danish Warmblood (Lucky Light—Teike, Caletto I), was electric in the warm-up but settled down immediately after going into the arena. In contrast, warming up for the freestyle, the gelding was calm and ready to work, but when he went into the arena, the added atmosphere of the packed stands made him tense during the first third of his test.

“The atmosphere is so electric,” said St. Jacques. “There’s no place like Devon. It’s fun to ride in front of people. It’s very good for U.S. dressage; it feels like Europe, and it’s what we need.”

Although he didn’t repeat his top-placed performance from the qualifier for the freestyle, David Marcus and Chrevi’s Capital performed a beautiful freestyle to music from Clash Of The Titans for a score of 73.50 percent and third place.

After a bad spook in at the London Olympics resulted in Capital’s disqualification, Marcus gave him some time off and brought him back slowly so that the arena is the horse’s “happy place” again, he said.

“I was a bit conservative here,” said Marcus, who rides for Canada. “He got a real fright at the Olympics.”

Mason Asks, And Zar Delivers More Energy In The Intermediaire I

After winning their fourth level class in 2011 at Dressage At Devon, Heather Mason and Zar returned this year for a bigger win.

They walked away with a 70.44 percent in the Intermediaire I, topping the class of 36 horse-and-rider teams.

Zar, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Iroko—Inga), has been Mason’s partner since she purchased him as a weanling from Cornell University (N.Y.). Over the years she has trained him and brought him through the levels.

“His trot work was much more active today,” said Mason. “It was a little more inconsistent [than in the Prix St. Georges on Friday] but more active. His extensions were a lot better. I was very happy with him.”

Diane Creech rode Robbie W to a second-placed finish (70.07%) as the only other rider in the Intermediaire I in the 70s. Lars Petersen and Chicco Roslev rounded out the top three with a 69.84 percent.

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