The U.S. Olympian Adrienne Lyle and Helix bested a tightly-bunched field to win the FEI CDI3* Grand Prix, sponsored by Galati Yacht Sales, on Friday, May 3. They scored 72.826% on the opening day of competition at the TerraNova Dressage III CDI3* (May 2-5) at TerraNova Equestrian Center. The pair were making their second visit to the Florida venue, and they remain unbeaten in all three of their starts there.

The top six finishers of the 20 starters were all from the home nation, but the judges had a tough time deciding on their order of merit: three of them placed Lyle and Helix first, while two of them gave the nod to Ashley Holzer on P.J. Rizvi’s 11-year-old Hansel (by Blue Hors Don Olymbrio x Metall), who finished in second with 72.5%. The highlight of their consistent test was the one-time changes, which picked up a nine from judge at M, Karen Pavicic. The first and second-placed finishers were a carbon copy of the result in the Grand Prix at TerraNova Dressage I CDI4* a month ago.

The top five were separated by just 1.65 percentage points. Endel Ots and Zen Elite’s Bohemian scooped third place with a 71.891% performance, despite the 14-year-old by Bordeaux x Samarant breaking to canter coming out of the last piaffe before the canter work. (Nine Canadians competed, with Chris von Martels and Eclips placing 7th with 70.326%.)

Heidi Humphries of Zen Elite Equestrian Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL, had much to celebrate as the owner of Helix and Bohemian – who was ridden by Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour to fourth place at the Tokyo Olympics and individual freestyle silver at the 2021 European Championships – as well as fourth-placed Lars Van De Hoenderheide, whom Lyle piloted to 71.196% despite the Negro gelding making an unexpected mistake in the two-time changes, which are usually one of his fortes.

All three Zen Elite-owned horses are forging new partnerships with their latest riders. The trio were bought at the end of last year, just ahead of the FEI’s cut-off for ownership requirements ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics this summer. TerraNova Dressage III CDI3* is taking place on the final weekend of the qualifying period for Paris 2024.

Helix’s test sheet was smattered with eights, particularly for his piaffe and passage work, but the 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Apache x Jazz was another to make costly mistakes on the line of two-time changes. The threes and twos across the board from the five judges for the two-tempis suppressed the score somewhat. This is the pair’s fourth international show in the short time they have been together.

“I was happy with both horses today,” said Lyle, who gave birth to her daughter, Bailey, just seven months ago. “They’ve had a long, intense last couple of weeks of this season, and it was quite hot today, so we were dealing with a few elements. We shortened our warm-up today because of the heat. You just have to rely on your training and trust that they’re going to be there for you when you go in the ring.

“With Helix, we’ve been working a lot on getting his balance and self-carriage better and changing the frame a little bit. He’s a horse that tries incredibly hard. We had one mistake today – which is uncharacteristic – but most of the test parts are really improving,” she added.

Lyle will ride Helix in Saturday’s B&D Builders FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3*, while Lars Van De Hoenderheide will start in the Zen Elite Equestrian Center FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3*, also on Saturday.

“The freestyle is really fun music,” said Lyle. “It’s a freestyle I used for one of my horses years ago, and we’re going to use that to complete our qualification requirements. Both horses will get their own freestyles made for them, but because this relationship is so new, I chose to ride a freestyle that I know well.”

Lyle’s goal for this season is to make the list of riders selected to campaign at shows in Europe, from which the U.S. Olympic team will be selected. Lyle was part of the silver medal winning U.S. team at the Tokyo Olympics with her recently retired partner, Salvino.

On Friday in the small tour ranks, Canada’s Jill Irving rode her own nine-year-old gelding Knight (by Blue Hors Zack x Krack C) into the blue ribbon spot in the CDI1* Prix St. Georges, presented by The Estates at TerraNova, with 68.03%. Lars Petersen (USA) slotted into second with a 67.941% ride on Kastel Denmark’s nine-year-old Sezuan x Sir Donnerhall gelding, GPF’s S-Express. His compatriot Catherine Malone rounded out the podium, logging 67.382% on her own Lusitano gelding Johnny Walker CLB, by Diamante Negro Do Juliana.

Competition continues at the TerraNova Dressage III CDI3* on Saturday, May 4, with the Zen Elite Equestrian Center FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* starting at 12.45pm EST, the B&D Builders FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3* from 3.50pm EST. There is small tour action in the CDI1* Intermediate 1, presented by Laughlin Tanner Group at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty and a full slate of USEF National classes. All CDI and National competition is available to watch free online HERE.

Results here.