The 2018 Adequan Global Dressage Festival continued with a national horse show on March 24-25 at Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, and top entries competed for impressive scores.
Horses procured through Danish Olympian Andreas Helgstrand on opposite sides of the planet converged on the AGDF show grounds to showcase their burgeoning talent.

2012 London Olympic Games rider David Marcus of Canada won Saturday’s grand prix with 69.348% on his own 10-year-old Dimaggio gelding, Dean Martin. This was the horse’s third grand prix and he is undefeated to date

“I purchased the horse this past summer at Helgstrand’s in Denmark, so it’s a fairly new partnership,” said the Wellington-based rider. “He’d only been there a few days — he’d been trained and competed by a rider from Luxembourg — and I felt he was a really complete horse in general, with a very good work ethic and three really good gaits. He knew the grand prix work, but he wasn’t really a confirmed grand prix horse yet.”

Marcus has spent the summer gelling with the chestnut gelding and consolidating the grand prix work, with help from his husband Nicholas Fyffe and local trainer Oded Shimoni.

“Dean is very green still and needs to build strength, but I was really happy with how hard he tried this weekend,” added Marcus. “Seeing as I’ve had him for such a short time, he was the best he could be for this stage of his training. This was only his second show, and he’s handled both competitions perfectly and feels the same at competitions as he does at home.”

Another Helgstrand horse — this one bought out of Helgstrand’s new sales barn in Wellington — breezed to victory in Saturday’s 17-strong prix st georges class. Australian rider Kelly Layne piloted John McGinty’s gigantic Blue Hors Romanov gelding Brizard to a clear 73.235% win.

“We had been searching for a horse for John for a long time,” said Layne. “He’s 6’4”, so it was hard to find a horse big enough but good enough to be competitive, and Brizard is 18 hands at a minimum, but so light and sensitive to the aids. I worried that the eight-meter circles might be a problem for him, but he’s so supple everywhere that they were easy for him.”

Layne is accustomed to big horses, having competed the tall Udon P.

“Brizard is very experienced in the small tour in Europe, but I took him out for his debut here in Wellington so I can help John better by understanding what the horse is like in competition,” said Layne, whose barn is so close to AGDF that she hacked to and from the venue. “He was wonderful; [he was] on the aids and powerful, but waiting for me the whole time. He absolutely did the job exactly as you’d want, and we were thrilled with him. In fact, if anything, he was more sensitive in there than in training, which means I can be very light with my riding.”

Since the sale of Udon P and her other grand prix horse, Layne is relishing the opportunity of having a quality small tour horse, though she will shortly hand over the competitive reins to McGinty.

It was an emotional win for Krystal Shingler (CAN) in Sunday’s grand prix, as this was her first show since the death of her mother less than a month earlier.

Her horse, the 10-year-old Fidelio by Fidertanz, is the first she has trained up to grand prix herself and this was their fourth ever grand prix. They won with 70.543% — the only plus-70% of the class.

“I got him in Germany as a coming five-year-old and he was a bit of a wild child,” recalled Shingler, who is originally from Toronto but is now a Wellington resident. “My trainer Kevin [Kohmann, of Diamante Farms] and I brought him up to the grand prix — though there were times that we nearly got rid of him because he was very difficult and liked to bolt. We soon realized that he’s a worker bee and needs to be busy. He said, ‘No thank you’ to most of the lower level stuff but, as it’s got harder, he feels more and more like it’s where he should be.”

Shingler, who works for the equestrian boutique Show Chic and fits riding and competing around her job, added: “My whole weekend was emotional and I got in my own head a bit because it was my first show without my mum. But I could feel that she was with me on my shoulder the whole time; it felt incredible. I’m just so glad that she got to see our first grand prix in February before she passed away.”

Fidelio — just like David Marcus’s Dean Martin — will now continue his training over the summer with the aim being in the CDI ring at AGDF next winter season.

The 2018 AGDF season wraps up with the final week of competition on March 27-31 with the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center FEI Nations Cup CDIO3* competition and a week full of CDI classes. Find out more about AGDF and the full week’s schedule at