Mango Eastwood bounced his way to victory under Ashley Holzer (USA) in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3*, presented by Peacock Ridge, in week 10 of the 2020 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), held at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). The 10th week of AGDF continues through Sunday, March 15, which is also the conclusion of the normally 12-week season, due to the Coronavirus.
The 11-year-old gelding began his CDI grand prix career just a month earlier, and has won five of his six starts under the four-time Olympian for Canada, who now rides for the USA. The pair scored 72.596%, which would have been even higher if not for a big stumble coming from extended trot to passage, which took them a few strides to recover from as Mango found his feet again.
Second went to Jennifer Schrader-Williams (USA) with 71.511% on Millione — a new personal best score for the pair. This was also their best finish of the 2020 season, which has been a successful one for the 17-year-old Millione, who began competing at the level in 2018. Australia’s Kelly Layne finished in third with 69.936% on the 11-year-old Samhitas, by Sir Donnerhall.
Holzer and owner Diane Fellows bought the son of Wynton as a nine-year-old from Spain’s Jordi Domingo and have taken their time training him out of the international spotlight until he was ready. He now projects confidence in the ring.
“I really haven’t had a ton of experience showing him and he’s a little tired with this being the third show in a row, but he really gave it,” said Holzer. “There were moments where I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re unbelievable!’ He’s an incredible horse and the mistakes were totally mine; I misjudged the speed in the one-times, but even when I make a mistake he doesn’t throw in the towel or hold it against me, he just comes right back. Once I get all the kinks out, I really think this horse is going to be spectacular.”
British judge Stephen Clarke was impressed with the emerging pairing’s talents. “Ashley’s riding is amazing. There were moments of tension but her brilliant riding saved the game,” he said. “The horse has a lot of talent, which she was able to show in spite of those tense moments. The horse has a huge ability and when he’s even more established and relaxed, then we’ll see more elasticity and expression which brings even higher marks.”
Holzer, who is 56 and based in Wellington, Florida, revealed that she models her warm-ups around the World number one, Germany’s Isabell Werth: “I do my Isabell training before I go in. I watch my video from the last time and then I watch Isabell’s best grand prix special and she just sits there looking like she’s doing nothing so I try to do that,” she explained.
She believes that Mango is right up there with the most talented grand prix horses she has ever ridden. She recalled, “I’ve had a lot of luck with a lot of lovely horses; Pop Art was an amazing partner in the ring, but the breeding has moved on and these breeders are making unreal athletes now. Mango is the next level of breeding as far as athleticism goes.”
She was also quick to praise AGDF’s part in her career, and the decision to make Wellington her base, saying: “It’s incredible to be able to come to this facility with top judges and top footing, plus atmosphere and public and encouragement. You really feel like you’re on home turf here and I couldn’t be where I am in my career if it hadn’t been for this facility. Without it, dressage in America and Canada wouldn’t be on the map.
“Global has been very conscientious about trying to run a horse show for us but at the same time being careful and cautious about the Coronavirus. So as much as it’s sad to think this is the last Global show for the season — I was almost in tears when I drove here because I love it here so much — I think there’s a bigger global concern right now and I hope we as a nation and as a world can live up to the challenge ahead,” she concluded.
Canada’s Pia Fortmuller remained unbeaten on Frieda at small tour this week. From 16 starters, she won the FEI Intermediate I CDI1* on her own nine-year-old Fürstenball mare, adding to their previous day’s victory. Their scores are trending upwards; Frieda topped this class with 75.147%, widening the gap between her and the next combination of Katie Johnson (USA) and Quartett, Kylee Lourie’s 12-year-old Quaterback gelding, who scored 70.919% to repeat their second-placed finish. Joining them on the podium was Canada’s Diane Creech who rode Louise Leatherdale’s Robbie W, a 17-year-old by Rubin Royal, to 70.257%.
Week 10 of the 2020 AGDF concludes on Sunday with the FEI Intermediate II CDI3*, presented by Adequan®, and the FEI Intermediate I Freestyle CDI3*, presented by The Dutta Corp. There is also competition in young horse ranks, as well as amateur and young rider action. The 2020 AGDF concludes for the season on Sunday, March 15, due to the Coronavirus outbreak. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.
FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3*, presented by Peacock Ridge
1. Ashley Holzer (USA) on Mango Eastwood, Diane Fellows’ 11yo KWPN gelding by Wynton: 71.915, 73.298, 73.511, 71.489, 72.766, 72.596
2. Jennifer Schrader-Williams (USA) on Millione, Millione Partners’ 17yo Danish Warmblood gelding by Milan: 70.426, 72.128, 72.447, 70.106, 72.447, 71.511
3. Kelly Layne (AUS) on Samhitas, her own 11yo Oldenburg gelding by Sir Donnerhall: 68.83, 67.34, 72.234, 71.489, 69.787, 69.936
4. Susan Dutta (USA) on Don Design DC, her own 10yo Hanoverian gelding by Der Designer: 70.319, 70.106, 69.362, 69.255, 70.319, 69.872
5. Alice Tarjan (USA) on Candescent, her own 10-year-old Hanoverian mare by Christ: 68.511, 70.426, 69.468, 68.83, 69.362, 69.319
6. Jaimey Irwin (CAN) on Donegal V, Team Irwin Supporters’ Group’s 12yo Danish Warmblood gelding by Johnson: 68.936, 70.851, 67.447, 68.83, 67.447, 68.702
7. Tina Irwin (CAN) on Fancy That, Rocket One LLC’s 14yo Oldenburg mare by Donerschwee: 66.489, 70.532, 67.021, 68.298, 67.128, 67.894