The CDI 3* competition wrapped up on Sunday afternoon at the seventh week of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). After a full week of CDIO and CDI 3* competition, the FEI Intermediaire-1 Freestyle, presented by Peacock Ridge, crowned its winner Sunday morning. Competition concluded for the week with the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Stillpoint Farm.

Competition for AGDF 8 will resume on February 28 for the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W. The feature event of the week, the FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix Freestyle, will be highlighted on the evening of Saturday, March 1.

The FEI Grand Prix Freestyle was a truly international class, seeing riders from Canada, the United States, Germany, Georgia, Brazil, and Italy. American Susan Dutta and her own Currency DC, a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding, emerged victorious from the class with a score of 71.950%. Canadian Jacqueline Brooks rode to second place with D Niro on a score of 71.275%. Maria Kaldewei (GER) rounded out the top three with a score of 68.625% aboard Die Suesse.

Dutta was very pleased with the improvements she saw in her test after making some adjustments to her choreography. “I’ve done this choreography a few times this year, and I kept having mistakes in the changes. We were finally like, ‘Let’s change the lines to make it so that we can have some success of a clean trip.’ And it was good. It worked. So that was a nice feeling,” Dutta explained.

Second place finisher Brooks tried out a new freestyle with D Niro, which she felt went quite well. Her biggest victory was reaching a breakthrough in the gelding’s self-carriage. “He’s just mature now. He knows his job now. I finally feel like the fitness and the strength and understanding are all at the same level,” Brooks remarked.

She elaborated, “This season, it’s all about his strength and his self-carriage. That’s a scary thing when you start saying to them in the ring, ‘Now you go ahead and try to do this on your own,’ and you try to give them a little bit less help so you can push them uphill. That I was extremely pleased with today.”

A unique challenge of the AGDF for Brooks is tweaking the timing of her choreography to make up for the fact her horse moves differently on the footing of The Stadium. “On this amazing footing, it’s different timing than in a normal sand ring. They stay on the surface a bit more here, they gain a bit more ground. You see people will usually finish a bit ahead of their music on this footing,” Brooks described.

Brooks actually sees the difference in timing as an advantage with her new choreography, not a hindrance. “I’m really happy with where I’m using up that music. I can make it a bit more difficult. I can take my half passes really to the walls and back, which increased the degree of difficulty,” Brooks expressed.

Also on Sunday, Tanya Strasser-Shostak added another blue ribbon to her already impressive haul from AGDF 7 after winning the FEI Young Rider Freestyle, presented by Engel & Völkers. Strasser-Shostak and Action Tyme topped the class with a 70.292%.

Competition for the AGDF resumes Friday, March 28, for the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W presented by Martha W. Jolicoeur and Maria Mendelsohn of Illustrated Properties.

FEI Grand Prix Freestyle

Rider, Country, Horse, Age, Breeding: Judge E%, Judge H%, Judge C%, Judge M%, Judge B%, Total %

1 Susan Dutta, USA, Currency DC, 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by rider, Cinderella x Clintino: 70.125%, 76.375%, 69.875%, 69.625%, 73.750%, 71.950%

2 Jacqueline Brooks, CAN, D Niro, 15-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Brookhaven Dressage Inc., Alitalia x D Day: 71.875%, 74.125%, 70.000%, 70.750%, 69.625%, 71.275%

3 Maria Kaldewei, GER, Die Suesse, 12-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by rider, Wanda x Diamond Hit: 69.375%, 67.500%, 68.250%, 70.375%, 67.625%, 68.625%

4 Silvia Rizzo, ITA, Sal, 15-year-old Lusitano stallion owned by Silvia Rizo & Hof Marabunta, Maia x Mississipe: 64.750%, 67.250%, 66.125%, 66.750%, 67.760%, 66.125%

5 Joanne Vaughan, GEO, Prego, 17-year-old KWPN stallion owned by rider, Evelien x Zazou: 67.675%, 64.875%, 65.000%, 62.500%, 65.125%, 64.975%