Dressage riders were welcomed once again to World Equestrian Center – Ocala (WEC) for the WEC May Dressage CDI3* sponsored by Hampton Green Farm and Discover Dressage. Competition began on Thursday, May 25, 2023, in the Grand Arena, which will host Fédération Equestre International (FEI) classes through Sunday, May 28. Scoring a victory in the Grand Prix for Freestyle CDI3* were Julio Mendoza Loor (ECU) and his own Jewel’s Goldstrike. Chris von Martels (CAN) and Londoncrown, owned by Daniel Gauthier, topped the Prix St. Georges CSI1*.
Scoring a personal best 74.413% and repeating his winning performance from the WEC April Dressage CDI3*, Julio Mendoza Loor and Jewel’s Goldstrike, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Bretton Woods x Watermill Scandic, impressed the judge’s panel of Agnieszka Majewska (POL), Isobel Wessels (GBR), Kristi Wysocki (USA), Jane Weatherwax (USA), and Maria Colliander (FIN).
Second place in the Grand Prix for Freestyle CDI3* went to Kevin Kohmann (USA) riding Dünensee, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Dancier x Davignon 3 owned by Diamante Farms. They scored 68.152%. Katherine Bateson Chandler (USA) and her veteran partner Alcazar, an 18-year-old KWPN gelding by Cantango 1 x Ferro owned by Jane Forbes Clark, finished third with 67.218%.
Mendoza Loor has made a splash in FEI competition with Jewel’s Goldstrike, but his life with horses began early thanks to his family’s history. While his great-grandfather was from Spain, it was his grandfather who immigrated to Ecuador and introduced Mendoza Loor and his father to horses. By the age of 11, Mendoza Loor was riding dressage. As he became more involved in the sport, his grandfather helped him move to Quito and work with military horses.
“I was cleaning boots, riding, cleaning stalls. This is how I came to learn. My children always say, ‘You came from riding donkeys to winning grand prix,’” he laughed. “A lot of people have said to me, ‘You are lucky,’ but they don’t understand that luck doesn’t come every day. You have to make your luck. I feel that you have to work harder if you want to be better. You have to get out of your comfort zone, which is what I try to do every day.”
Mendoza Loor moved to the United States at the age of 26 (he is now 44 years old) in order to follow his dreams in the sport. He didn’t speak English, but his wife Jessica, who is from Ohio, helped him learn the language by practicing an hour every day. Mendoza Loor also connected with his coach David Hahn, and now with Jewel’s Goldstrike, he is at the top level of the sport. His plans include competing in the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, this October and finishing in the top two in order to gain qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
In the Prix St. Georges CSI1*, Chris von Martels and Londoncrown opened their week with victory and a score of 73.235% from judges Cesar Torrente (COL), Debbie Rodriguez (USA), and Maria Colliander (FIN). Second place went to Anna Marek (USA) and Duvel, a 15-year-old KWPN gelding by Florencio 2 x Metall owned by Cynthia Davila, who scored 71.176%, while Jovanna Stepan (USA) and Fürstin Romantica, her own 14-year-old Hanoverian mare by Fürst Romancier x Sandro Hit, were third with 69.951%.
Von Martels and “London” have been paired together for a year, and the Olympian sees promise in his young mount, which was only the horse’s fourth small tour class.
“I love her, and I think it’s really a fabulous horse for the future,” he said of the 10-year-old Hanoverian mare by Londontime x San Amour. “She has a lot of quality and certainly the personality that I think it takes to be a real contender. We’ve only done a few shows so far, but I think we’re off to a good start. I never really like to say my goals too quickly, but of course I have big aspirations for her.”
Having competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and won gold, silver, and bronze medals at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, von Martels appreciates the opportunity that WEC provides him and his horse.
“I think it’s a really great learning opportunity for the horses,” he explained. “It gives you a real international feeling when you have to go from the warm-up down the chute into the Grand Arena. The majority of major games have a similar feeling, so it’s a nice possibility for riders to have that feeling here.”
Von Martels and Londoncrown will make their way through the impressive in-gate of the Grand Arena once again on Friday when they contest the Intermediate 1 CSI1*.
The World Equestrian Center May Dressage CDI3* continues on Friday, May 26, with the Grand Prix for Special CDI3* at 8 a.m. followed by the Intermediate CSI1* at 11:20 a.m. For more information, visit www.wec.net.
Full show results and ride times here.