An ecstatic Camille Carier Bergeron punched the air in delight at the end of her test in the Mission Control Grand Prix Special CDI3* during Week 8 of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL. She was right to celebrate as her score of 71.511%, with Finnländerin, shot to the top of the leaderboard and never left, handing the 23-year-old Canadian her first senior big tour CDI victory. AGDF hosts seven weeks of CDI competition over three months as well as weekly national rated shows, running through March 31.

The class boasted 15 athletes representing eight nations, and it was Canada who filled two of the top three slots. In a class where mares had the edge, Australia’s Jemma Heran took the runner-up spot, riding her own elegant 15-year-old San Amour, daughter Saphira Royal 2, to a new personal best score of 70.575%.

Third place, Denielle Gallagher, rode her own and Ellen Lazarus’s charming 12-year-old buckskin gelding to another personal best of 69.915%. Come Back De Massa, a Lusitano by Galopin De La Font, only began international grand prixs in the fall of 2023 and is gaining confidence with each show, laying down two personal bests in AGDF 8 alone.

Carier Bergeron and Finnländerin finished fourth in Thursday’s qualifying grand prix, but achieved her goal of riding a mistake-free test on Saturday to claim the blue ribbon on her own and her father, Gilles Bergeron’s, 14-year-old Finnländerin. She bought the horse from Madeleine and Nico Witte-Vrees in 2022, and she has already competed at the grand prix level for two seasons. The French-bred chestnut mare is by Fidertanz and out of the Donnerhall mare Ferna, who is a full sister to the Olympic stallion, Blue Hors Don Schufro.

“She gave me such a good feeling today,” said Carier Bergeron, who trains with Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu. “This is only our second show together so we’re still getting to know one another. My goal for today was just to go clean because I knew that if we could, we’d have a good score. This horse doesn’t have one weakness. Everything is good; all three gaits, plus the changes and the passage are really big and she’s so consistent.

“She goes in there and really fights for me. On the last centerline she gives me more; the last piaffe is always the best and in the last passage the higher she can hike her legs, the better. It’s my first win on the big tour ever and it feels unreal — it’s a really special moment for me and she’s one cool horse to ride,” she added.

Carier Bergeron spends her summers in Quebec, Canada and winters in Florida. She attributes much of Finnländerin’s happy demeanor to a varied lifestyle and ample pampering.

“She’s a princess and we call her The Queen,” she laughed. “She has tons of treats and anything else she needs, like laser or the massage blanket. My task is to keep her happy because she’s the queen. She trail rides twice a week and goes in the paddock a lot. She knows her thing, I just have to ride her well. She’s so much fun.”

This year the Carier Bergerons are eagerly awaiting an embryo transfer foal out of Finnländerin by Lottie Fry’s ride, the Negro son Kjento.

Judge Katrina Wüst, who awarded Carier Bergeron’s test the high score of 73.511% described it as “exactly what we want to see”. She added, “It was harmonious, easy going, nice in the contact, very consistent and with lovely changes.”

Of the eight riders forward in the Intermediate I CDI1*, sponsored by Blucreeq Spirits, it was Germany’s prolific Frederic Wandres whose 72.176% personal best on Floricella that proved impossible to catch. From the last draw, the new partnership rocketed to the top of the leaderboard, eclipsing the 67.53% score of the penultimate rider, the Netherlands’ Luuk Mourits. Mourits rode the experienced 14-year-old Harmony’s Sarotti OLD into second. Rebecca Cohen achieved 66.765% on the nine-year-old Glock’s Dream Boy gelding, Kai Van Wittenstein P. Their third place at the horse’s second ever CDI represented their first international podium finish.

Wandres’ test on the nine-year-old Oldenburg was rife with eights, and received a high mark of 74.559% from the judge at H, Magnus Ringmark. Floricella, by Fürstenball, came from Europe to be sold recently and is based with Wandres’ employer, Hof Kasselmann. With her owner, Alessa Marie Maass, Floricella was part of the gold medal winning German team at the 2022 European Championships for Children in Hungary. Wandres has only ridden Floricella for a few weeks, but the fresh pair are unbeaten in all four of their CDI small tour starts at AGDF and have never scored below 70%.

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Click for full results from the CDI3* FEI Grand Prix Special, sponsored by Mission Control.