Cesar Parra Smashes Personal Best on shy Mr Bumblebee
Cesar Parra (USA) nailed a huge new personal best in the FEI Intermediate I CDI3*, presented by Restylane. He rode Mr Bumblebee, Karen Blank’s shy 12-year-old gelding by Sting to 75.535%. The pair were the unanimous winners in the eyes of all five judges on the concluding day of the five-star week seven of the 2020 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida. AGDF 2020 runs for 12 weeks, through March 29.
Sweden’s Ida Mattisson finished second with Edison Van Twinwood (72.005%) with Canadian rider Ariana Chia filling third with 71.745% on her own Fiderflame. Some last-minute confidence-building tactics with Mr Bumblebee paid dividends for Parra, a Colombian Olympian who switched nationalities to ride for the USA in 2008.
“We used to say that not every day’s a Sunday, but today’s a great Sunday,” he enthused. “I’m sure a lot of us riders ask ourselves why we do this, and when we have a ride like this, that’s the answer, to share a great ride with a great partner like him. We’ve been working very focused and consistently with this horse and I really believe in him. He’s been in our barn for a few years with different riders and he’s just a late bloomer, so I’m happy for him and the owners who have supported so much.
“Mr Bumblebee is shy and very insecure. He can do everything for an eight or a nine but when you switch him from the warm-up into the ring, he gets very nervous and trembles. So this morning I was out here at 7 a.m. going in and out of the arena on long reins and giving him sugar and apples until finally he said, ‘Okay fine, I guess there are no ghosts out there’. People think I’m crazy, but sometimes you have to do these things.”
Parra, who is based between Florida and New Jersey, added: “I really want to go to one more Olympics. I am over 50 but I’m fit, I still run and go to the gym as well as riding six or seven hours a day, so maybe I am a late bloomer too.”
He has been training with Anne Gribbons, but has added a new trainer to his roster this winter: “Lately it’s been someone who has been watching me for the last 30 years: the one with the microphone this winter has been my wife Marcela. And it’s been very exciting because she doesn’t ride but it works perfectly because she knows when to push and when to leave me alone.”
Parra was full of praise for the AGDF, adding: “What Global [AGDF] does here is just amazing. I’ve been in Aachen, in World Cups, World Equestrian Games and Olympics, I think it’s even better here. You have all the facilities and everything is pro welfare of the horse to make them happy athletes. And we get to train and compete in front of amazing judges.”
Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén claimed the winner’s sash in the FEI Intermediate II CDI3* with Lövsta Stuteri’s jumping-bred gelding Lord Django, by Stalypso. The 10-year-old is a new ride for Sweden’s seven-time Olympian, having previously been competed by Poland’s Ilona Janas. Vilhelmson Silfvén and Lord Django were contesting just their second CDI test together and their first at big tour level. Their 70.029% winning score edged out second-placed Yvonne Losos De Muñiz of the Dominican Republic who is quietly building a record at big tour with her own 10-year-old Vivaldi daughter Felicia. They scored 67.912%, which would have been markedly higher had it not been for issues in the one-time changes but still represents a new personal best for the pair in this test.
In the Summit Farm Future Challenge FEI Prix St. Georges class, the two qualifying tickets for the final in week 12 went to winner Signe Kirk Kristiansen (DEN) on her new ride Bonderman (71.25%) and second placed Christopher Hickey (USA) who scored 70.074% on Stenagers Wyatt Earp. Twelve starters contested this increasingly popular class.
“I was very happy with my ride, especially as I do get a little nervous when any class is a qualifier for something but I was really happy that Bonderman was with me all the time,” said Kristiansen, who bought the eight-year-old by Belarus from Helgstrand Dressage in August after he competed at the World Young Horse Championships. “Now that we’ve qualified for the finals in the big ring, maybe I should do a one-star CDI to get him in there and used to the atmosphere.
“I went to Helgstrand to try another horse that I couldn’t ride, and then Andreas said he wanted me to look at this horse,” added Kristiansen, who is spending the season in Wellington for the fifth consecutive year. “He’s big and really orange and I normally like smaller horses, but he was incredible to ride on that first try.”
Kristiansen, who trains with Lars Petersen in Florida and his former student Allan Gron back in Denmark, added: “This class is a really nice way to compare yourself and horse with other youngsters on the same level.”
Canada’s Diane Creech was the unanimous winner in the Lövsta Future Challenge FEI Intermediate II. She picked up the single ticket to the finals on offer riding her own and Louise Leatherdale’s Dublin L to 69.118%. Michael Klimke (GER) finished second with the Destano son Delmonte 7 on 67.427%, with the USA’s Michael Bragdell filling third on Sternlicht Hilltop (64.118%).
“This is so exciting because Louise bred Dublin and he’s by her stallion Damsey,” said Creech of the nine-year-old who is out of a Wolkenstein II dam. “Being by Damsey you can already feel fairly quickly that he has inherited his talent for the collected work, so it’s really fun to work with him. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to ride a horse like him. Now it’s just about giving him experience and confidence and keeping fun in the game as he still has many more years to come.
“This class is so wonderful; it’s such a great opportunity for young horses to grow up a bit and start to play with the big boys,” added Creech, who is based in Ontario, Canada but has spent the past half a dozen winters based, along with her daughter, at the Palm Beach Equine Clinic Facility in Wellington — just a stone’s throw from AGDF.
“Being here is a wonderful opportunity to train and watch other riders. The facilities are incredible and you just can’t beat it. We hack over to the show and back. We have seven horses down for the season and it’s a once in a lifetime thing to be able to share my hobby and passion with my daughter.”
Today’s competition concludes week seven, CDI5* week, of the 12-week 2020 AGDF. Action kicks off again on Wednesday, February 26 with week eight’s CDI-W show. AGDF 2020 runs for 12 weeks, through March 29. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.