National competition was abuzz at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) last week, welcoming horses and riders to Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center from Friday, February 19, through Sunday February 21 for national-level competition. On Saturday, Canada’s Naima Moreira Laliberté topped the FEI Grand Prix with KML Inc’s I Do Kiss.
Moreira Laliberté and the 2006 Swedish Warmblood stallion by French Kiss, topped the class with a score of 74.347%. It was one that the 24-year-old was happy with after a year away from competition, moving into the upcoming five-star week at AGDF.
“This was my first time in the show ring since last year,” began Moreira Laliberté. “I was grateful and happy to be back in the ring with ‘Kiss’ at Grand Prix. I was happily surprised with the score, and I think our ride went super well. He stayed with me the whole way and was very focused and was willing to give his all. He’s a big stallion; he’s a big horse to move, but when he goes in the ring he tries his heart out and I really appreciate that side of him a lot. He’s also got huge changes and is very expressive in them. I think he also is the kind of horse that steps in the arena, and he wants to show off he’s got that presence. He’s a performer.”
Moreira Laliberté, who was on the gold medal team at the 2019 Pan American Games for Canada with her mount Statesman, confirmed that she is also vying for a spot on the Olympic Team for Tokyo this year alongside her other barn mates who all train under former Canadian Olympian and now U.S. rider and trainer, Ashley Holzer.
“I declared both of the horses,” said Moreira Laliberté, “so, we’ll see who can qualify for the team. I think they’re both horses that could be strong contenders for the team. They’re two completely different horses to ride, they’re not alike, and it’ll be interesting how it pans out.”
Moreira Laliberté, who is primarily based in Montreal, has been in Wellington since November, training with Holzer and team. “I owe a huge part of my success to Ashley,” continued Moreira Laliberté. “She really took me under her wing and brought me to another level in the sport. She always brings a positive attitude which I really appreciate. It creates a great environment to learn in. I come out of the ring and even if it’s a ride that didn’t go according to plan, she’ll always find a positive piece of it and breaks it down for you in a way that’s constructive and incredibly helpful. She is a mentor in so many aspects, how she balances her projects, her family, and her sport, and how she shows up every day, passionate about what she does. It’s so inspiring. She cares about her students and horses, and her teaching is just wonderful. It fits so well with myself and my horses, and that’s essential.”
Friday’s FEI Grand Prix Special welcomed a career-high score in a Grand Prix/Grand Prix Special for Sabine Schut-Kery (USA) and Alice Womble’s 2006 Hanoverian stallion by San Remo, Sanceo. The pair topped the class with a 76.808% in their first competition since arriving in Florida in January to campaign for a spot on the U.S. Dressage team for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Second place went to Canada’s Denielle Gallagher-Legriffon riding Wilson Pickett, Danielle Gallagher and P.J. Rizvi’s 2005 Hanoverian gelding by Wolkentanz, earning a score of 66.595%.
On Sunday, Alice Tarjan (USA) topped the FEI Intermediaire II Lövsta Future Challenge with her own Harvest, a 2012 KWPN stallion by Connaisseur, to earn their invitation to the $15,000 Lövsta Future Challenge/Young Horse Grand Prix Series Finale with a 72.573%. Second place honors were awarded to Karen Pavicic (CRO) and her own 2012 Hanoverian gelding by Totilas, Totem, with 69.632%.
In the FEI Prix St. Georges Future Challenge, 22-year-old Katrina Sadis (USA) earned top honors aboard Belloona, her own 2012 Oldenburg mare by Belissimo M, with a 67.352%.
For more information and to see a full list of results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.