Jill Irving and Degas 12 close second in huge FEI Grand Prix CDI3*

On the second day of competition for the FEI Nations Cup™ CDIO3*, presented by Stillpoint Farm, on Thursday, March 12, at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), the team from the USA took the gold medal with 439.992 points. The Canadian team took silver with 436.034 points, and Denmark was awarded the bronze with 424.501 points.

The podium presentation for team medals will take place during “Friday Night Stars” on the evening of March 13. The 10th week of AGDF continues through Sunday, March 15, while the 12-week AGDF circuit concludes on March 29 at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).

All four of the victorious U.S. team members rode in the big tour division, with Steffen Peters clocking the highest score of 76.085% to top the FEI Grand Prix Special CDIO3*. He was joined by Adrienne Lyle, who scored 72.553% on Duval Partners LLC’s Harmony’s Duval. Katherine Bateson Chandler rode Alcazar to 69.723%, with Anna Marek posting 67.936%, which was the drop score.

Peters, who rode Four Winds Farm’s 18.2hh Suppenkasper, said: “It was very close overnight with Canada, just 0.1%, so Debbie [McDonald] and I talked quite a bit and I believed that going in the ring we should take the intensity from the training in the warm-up into the show arena, not an ounce more, but certainly not an ounce less.

“That was the tactic today and it worked out beautifully. ‘Mopsie’ did a very clean test, even more relaxed than any of the other tests he’s done so far. This season was extremely therapeutic for both of us, and we’re looking forward to the freestyle tomorrow,” added Peters, who has been in Wellington for most of the season and will now return to his California base.

Lyle had an improved performance with Harmony’s Duval. She noted, “When you’re riding for the team, you always want to put your best test in and this is an exciting format having it over the two days,” she said. “The first day we had some uncharacteristic communication errors, so I really wanted to come out today and put down a strong test for the team and I was happy with his effort.”

Bateson Chandler also improved her score from day one, which was the team’s drop score, on her long-time partner, Jane Forbes Clark’s Alcazar.

“I haven’t had a test with as many mistakes as yesterday in quite a while, so it took me a bit by surprise,” she explained. “But it was good, because for today it put me back in a high gear again and realize that I had to push on a bit more.”

Marek was grateful for the experience of riding on a team, something she had never done before. “I wanted to go out and have a clean ride,” she said. “I was very thankful to be on the team and to get some Nations Cup team experience with awesome teammates. Today I kicked it up a notch and the whole experience has been wonderful.”

Canada’s all-female foursome also all rode in the big tour, with their top scorer, Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu, finishing with the third-highest score of 73.489% on All In. She was flanked by Megan Lane, Lindsay Kellock, and Naima Moreira Laliberte, who this time last year was riding on her nation’s under-25 Nations Cup team.

Brittany Fraser Beaulieu said: “We all just wanted to ride a clean test, though we thought that to try to beat America we all needed to have a little bit more power than normal, which we tried to do.”

Denmark (made up of Signe Kirk Kristiansen, Agnete Kirk Thinggaard, Rikke Poulsen, and Carina Nevermann Torup) took the bronze medal despite their small tour combination of Rikke Poulsen and Furstentanz having to withdraw, leaving them with no drop score.

Kirk Thinggard spearheaded the Danes’ efforts, finishing on the second-highest score with a valuable 74.128% on Blue Hors Zatchmo, her own 11-year-old stallion by Zack.

“I was so proud of my guy today; he was really working for me in the arena,” she enthused. “We had some ups and downs this season but today he was really doing his best for me and I felt like he was really trying. He was calm and comfortable in the arena and he hasn’t been at some of the earlier shows, so I was really happy.”

Israel fielded its first ever team of dressage riders in any competition to finish in fourth with 395.585. Team Japan was plagued by injury on the second day of action, losing two of their combinations and dropping them out of contention as they could not muster three counting scores.

In the FEI Grand Prix 16-25 CDIO-U25, presented by Diamante Farms, Benjamin Ebeling (USA) and Illuster Van De Kampert, Nuvolari Holdings LLC’s 12-year-old Spielberg gelding, led the class with 71.179%, claiming his second gold medal after helping his team, Team USA “Stars and Stripes,” to victory the previous day. Fellow American Emma Asher scooped the silver on Elegance N, an 11-year-old by Jazz. Canada’s Camille Carier Bergeron claimed the bronze medal riding Acoeur.

“The win today is up there for me,” said 20-year-old Ebeling, who has been on quite a journey with Illuster Van De Kampert. “My favorite thing is riding on a team, so the win yesterday was really important, but for my self-confidence with this horse, today meant a lot.

“The first two times that I did a grand prix with him, we had to retire. He’s such a hot horse and it’s taken me a while to get to know him and to understand how to control him. These last few shows have been really positive for us. I think it’s just been about getting to know my horse better and he’s trusting me more,” he added.

Emma Asher, a former showjumper who was also part of the winning Team USA “Stars and Stripes,” has been building her relationship with Seeley Equestrian Ventures’ Elegance N having previously ridden a schoolmaster. They scored 70.051% to claim the individual silver medal.

“I was surprised by the score; the judges liked it better than I did, which doesn’t happen very often,” admitted 18-year-old Asher. “But it was really exciting because we’ve had a little bit of a struggle transitioning to this horse from my previous U-25 horse, who was a schoolmaster that did everything perfectly the first time. It was great to break the 70% barrier. I’m really glad we have a class like this for upcoming professionals, so thanks to Diamante Farms for sponsoring it as it’s great to have the opportunity to ride at this level.”

The bronze medal went to Canada’s Camille Carier Bergeron who rode the 13-year-old Acoeur, by Acordelli, to 69.692%. She held off a challenge from Hope Cooper (USA) by just 0.128%.

Canada-based Carier Bergeron could hardly believe her result in her second year at the level. “This is our best score so far in an individual test and when I heard the first score I thought, ‘Oh my God, it must be a mistake or just one judge that gave me that score.’ Then the second one came out and I thought, ‘Wow, maybe it’s true,’ and then I realized it was really true when I heard the third one,” she said. “For me it was a big surprise because we just tried our best and got so much better piaffe/passage than we normally do.”

In a mammoth FEI Grand Prix CDI3*, presented by Peacock Ridge, that lasted nearly five hours, it was the USA’s Ashley Holzer who came out on top. She rode Diane Fellows’ Wynton gelding Mango Eastwood to 71.282% and led the class from their mid-way draw. This is the budding pair’s fourth win from their five international starts at the level.

It wasn’t until the penultimate rider of the 30 starters, Holzer’s pupil Jill Irving (CAN), that anyone else broke the 70% barrier. Irving and her own 18-year-old Degas 12 by De Niro posted a very close 71.239%, with two of the five judges having her as the winner. Alice Tarjan (USA) and her own Candescent, a 10-year-old mare by Christ who is competing in her first season at AGDF, finished third with 69.544%. This class was a qualifier for the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* on Saturday afternoon, in which Holzer will be hoping to catch the eye of selectors in her quest for one of the three team places on offer for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

At small tour, Cesar Parra (USA) claimed victory from the 12 starters in the FEI Prix St. Georges CDI3*, presented by The Dutta Corp. He rode GK Don Cesar, a 10-year-old by Desperados, to 71.274%, a new personal best at the level. This was their second win of the 2020 AGDF. Ariana Chia (CAN) on Fiderflame finished second with 70.196%, with the USA’s Jami Kment filling third with 70.147% on Gatino Van Hof Olympia.

Week 10 of the 12-week AGDF continues on Friday with the FEI Grand Prix CDI3* in the morning, two three-star small tour classes, and the evening’s showcase class, the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO3*, presented by Stillpoint Farm at 7 p.m. It forms part of the competitive Nations Cup contest and riders will be vying for individual medals. Week 10 runs through Sunday, March 15. AGDF 2020 runs for 12 weeks, through March 29. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.