Wellington, Fla.—April 5
If you wanted to check on the state of dressage in North America, the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI***** Grand Prix was a good place for that. The day’s startlist for the five-star Grand Prix was a stacked one, showcasing most of the best pairs on this continent—beginning with Shelly Francis and Doktor, who qualified to represent the United States at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final (Sweden) but opted not to attend, and ending with Canadian Olympians Ashley Holzer and Breaking Dawn. There was plenty of talent in between as well—Steffen Peters on Legolas 92, Heather Blitz on Paragon and Tina Konyot on Calecto V, to name just a few.
In the end, Peters came out on top with a 75.08 percent. Denmark’s Lars Petersen, who recently had an amazing streak of six Grand Prix-level CDI class wins in a row, picked up second on Mariett (73.78%) and Holzer finished third (73.36%).
“I was very happy with Legolas today,” said Peters. “We haven’t done too many clean tests, and today’s was one. We got the one tempis for the second test in a row, so I was thrilled with that. The first halt was a bit tense, but he still did a very nice extended walk and collected walk. I’m still waiting for the day when I can go in there and get a little on the throttle, but that’s not happening quite yet.”
Peters picked up a check for $3,360 for Legolas’ win today, and $12,000 was awarded overall in the class. Legolas, an 11-year-old Westphalian (Laomedon—Furstin, Florestan II), is owned by Akiko Yamazaki’s Four Winds Farm.
“It’s wonderful for our owners to get a small return on their investments,” said Peters.
The day’s rainy weather created some minor tension for a few horses, including Legolas, who spends most of his days at Peters’ Arroyo Del Mar in sunny San Diego, Calif.
“I don’t think I’ve ever shown him in the rain, but it was good to do that before going to Europe to compete,” said Peters, who’s heading over to the Hagen CDI***** in Germany in a few weeks. “He was definitely a little more on edge today because of that.”
The steady rain also kept most of the spectators away today, and just a few diehards huddled ringside under tents or umbrellas during the worst of the weather. But despite the wet, empty seats, the International ring at the Global Dressage Festival facility, located at the Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, still has the feeling of an important venue.
“I don’t find a big difference between competing in the United States and not in the United States if it’s something like this, with tents and flags and top-class judges and top-class footing,” said Holzer.
Holzer and Breaking Dawn, or “Edward,” are recently reunited. The horse had gone back to his owner P.J. Rizvi after the Olympic Games in London, but show secretary Lloyd Landkamer asked Holzer if she’d ride in the five-star this weekend.
“P.J. was going to ride and compete him,” said Holzer. “She had another horse that had been badly injured and didn’t look like he’d ever come back. She phoned me up a while ago and said, ‘The rehab center said he’s sound!’ So I told her to bring him in, and sure enough he was sound. She’s more comfortable on the other one—it’s her old Prix St. Georges horse—and when he was going well, she decided to show him and compete him.
“So after Lloyd called, I said to P.J., ‘Would you mind if I showed Edward at the five-star?’ She very kindly said about four weeks ago, ‘Get back on,’ and I did one show before this to get ready. I think I’m going to buy her a big drink now and ask her if I get to stay back on him,” Holzer said.
Tomorrow’s five-star freestyle begins at 7:30 pm, and the top eight from the Grand Prix class will compete in that. The rest will do the Grand Prix Special on Sunday. All three of the top riders from today’s class are nervous about different aspect of their freestyles.
“If I can halt at the end, I’ll be happy,” said Holzer.
“For me, it’s the first halt I’m worried about,” said Peters. “We’ve tried to trot in and tried to canter in, and I can’t get him to stand still. That’s why we’re walking in. If that works tomorrow, I’ll be happy.”
“It’s not the first halt or the last halt I’m worried about; it’s everything in between,” joked Petersen.
Full results from all the day’s classes available online.