(See Thursday report here.)

FRIDAY – Anna Marek and Fayvel Smash Freestyle Personal Best

Anna Marek and Fayvel got the crowd on their feet and clapping to the beat of their winning performance in the ‘Friday Night Stars’ FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle, sponsored by The Dutta Corp on Friday, February 9. This is the second of three World Cup™ legs hosted this year by the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) circuit in Wellington, Florida. AGDF 2024, which hosts seven weeks of CDI competition, runs through March 31.

From last draw, Marek rode the 14-year-old Zizi Top x Houston gelding Fayvel to 78.457%, eclipsing their previous best of 77.715%, set during AGDF 1. The British five-star judge Stephen Clarke awarded the pair’s high score of 81.1%. Their win handed them 20 FEI ranking points, enough to secure a starting berth at the FEI World Cup™ Final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (April 16-20).

Just as in Thursday’s qualifying Grand Prix class, Kevin Kohmann slotted into second behind Marek, chalking up 75.89% on Diamante Farms’s 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding Dünensee (Dancier x Davignon). Susan Dutta piloted her own and her husband Tim’s 14-year-old Don Design DC (Der Designer x Sir Donnerhall) to third with 73.31%, rounding out the all-American podium. (Top Canadian was Tanya Strasser-Shostak with Fidelis Tyme, who placed 6th with 71.810%)

To strains of Kygo’s ‘At Least We Stole The Show’ and remixes of ‘Let’s Dance’ put together by Karen Robinson, Marek came out all guns blazing, pulling off a technically challenging test with power and risk. Spectators started whooping when she rode a half-20m circle of two-time changes which melted seamlessly into a diagonal of one-time changes. Marek’s groom Kate Esterline was awarded the $500 grooms prize, sponsored by Massa Horses.

“Today it was really a fun ride,” enthused Marek, who took over Fayvel’s competitive reins from owner Cynthia Davila full time only in the fall of 2023. “I was so happy with how willing he was even in such a big atmosphere; he can walk on a long rein next to all those cheering people.

“I’ve known him and ridden him for a long time, but not in CDIs or trying to qualify for a championship. The last couple of shows I’ve been thrilled with him and we’re getting better together so fast — it’s really great,” added Marek, who is based near Ocala, FL, and trains with Ann Gribbons.

Judge at C William Warren said, “Each of the rides had its own qualities, but when Anna started I had to really not blink. I didn’t want to miss anything. She actually made me tingle a little bit. There was so much power in that ride, she took such risk and she pulled it off.”

Kohmann also used strong beats and lyrics to emphasize Dünensee’s highlights. Quiet riding, a loose curb rein and a harmonious partnership produced a powerful and light-footed performance, which included a delightful canter to piaffe transition.

“Today was quite a bit better than last time here,” said Kohmann, who took over the ride on Dünensee from his trainer Christoph Koschel a year ago. “Last time he was very nervous, this time he was just nervous. I honestly felt so comfortable this time, riding at night and I felt like it was my best freestyle. I actually could enjoy riding the test. This is a difficult ring to show in, but I literally just thought this time, ‘I’m going to pat him a little bit more,’ and it worked. I just had fun tonight.”

Susan Dutta was riding in ‘Friday Night Stars’ for the very first time with her long-time partner Don Design. He, like Dünensee, was sourced through Christoph Koschel, and was a firecracker of a young horse.

“I’m enjoying how well he’s handling the environment and how grown up he’s gotten,” she said. “We bought him as a five-year-old from Hof Kasselmann and we’ve been on a nine-year journey. He was quite a handful as a young horse, and I needed a lot of help. He’s gotten so many riders off, but luckily not me. And in the end he’s turned out to be amazing.

“I had one small mistake in the one-time changes, but overall, I’m thrilled with him. I’m really happy to be in the top three — that was my goal for the night and I accomplished it,” she added.

Last year’s AGDF 5 World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle winner Frederic Wandres (GER) was in action in Friday’s CDI1* Prix St. Georges, sponsored by Centerline Stables. This time the German national anthem rang out for Wandres’s 71.941% performance on Alessa Marie Maass’ nine-year-old Fürstenball mare, Floricella.


SATURDAY – Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén and Hyatt Win Grand Prix Special

Two extraordinary riding performances from less than ideal starts snagged the top two spots in the BluCreeq Spirits CDI3* Grand Prix Special on Saturday. Both the winner Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén (SWE) and Ashley Holzer (USA) had to contend with tension but clawed back the marks during their tests from low starts. The Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL, hosts seven weeks of CDI competition and runs until March 31.

Vilhelmson Silfvén’s ride on Hyatt, Lövsta Stuteri’s mare by Apache, began with miscommunications on the first centerline, resulting in an opening trending score of 35% from the panel of five judges. By the end of her test, the big screen flashed up her final winning score of 70.596%.

Holzer finished just 0.022 percentage points adrift of Vilhelmson Silfvén, riding PJ Rizvi’s Blue Hors Don Olymbrio son Hansel to 70.574%. The 11-year-old gelding took fright going around the edge and Holzer had to work diligently throughout the test to manage the powerful horse’s tension. Australia’s Jemma Heran posted a new personal best of 70.319% aboard her own light-footed 15-year-old San Amour mare, Saphira Royal 2. They bagged third place, meaning that the podium finishers represented three different continents.

Vilhelmson Silfvén’s score is the highest yet with the inexperienced 12-year-old mare. This is the pair’s third big tour CDI together and only their second Grand Prix Special since sourcing Hyatt at Hof Kasselmann in Germany.

“The entry was a bit exciting and I kinda did all the movements before the first salute because she was a little bit afraid to go in,” said Vilhelmson Silfvén, who is a regular on the AGDF winter circuit. “But she has to learn. I got a more difficult start than I expected, but I’m very pleased that I could ride without really any mistakes even though she was focussed on more than just me. She’s still so eager to do what I want, but it’s more difficult to keep her steady and in the frame that I want because she gets a little excited.

“My hopes are big for her, but I want to take it slow and careful,” she added. “It’s a big responsibility to have such an ambitious horse and I want to treat that ambition well and give her good experiences. She is so soft and athletic and electric; she can do anything with her body.”

Vilhelmson Silfvén is planning to campaign Hyatt in some national grand prix classes to expose her to a wide variety of competition settings and build her confidence.

“I want to give her experience and for me to learn about her, like how long to warm up, how to go in, and what to do when she does that in the ring,” explained the seven-time Olympian. “We want to make smart choices with her. I like her a lot. Developing horses like this is what I live for — it’s so fun.”


Canadian Top-5 CDI Results:

CDI3* FEI Grand Prix – 2. Camille Carier Bergeron, Finnländerin 67.804%; 5. Tina Irwin, Fancy That 66.348%
CDI3* FEI Grand Prix Special – 4. Camille Carier Bergeron, Finnländerin 68.893%; 5. Ariana Chia, Guateque IV 67.425%

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

CDI Results here.

National show results here.