The opening day of competition at the 10th week of the 2020 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) on Wednesday, March 11, featured the Nations Cup CDIO-U25 presented by Diamante Farms with victory for one of the USA’s two teams of talented youth riders.

Team USA “Stars and Stripes” edged out Team USA “Star Spangled,” with Canada taking bronze. Nations Cup competition continues on Thursday, March 12, with the FEI Nations Cup™ CDIO3* presented by Stillpoint Farm, in which medals will be decided. Competition for the week continues through Sunday, March 15, with CDIO3*, CDI3*, and CDI1* classes. AGDF 2020 runs for 12 weeks, through March 29.

For the fourth year, AGDF hosted CDIO-U25 competition, offering a valuable stepping-stone in international competition for young riders. Team USA “Stars and Stripes” consisted of Benjamin Ebeling on Illuster Van De Kampert, Emma Asher with Elegance N, and Rosemary Julian-Simoes riding Rankrado. The team finished on 139.559 in the FEI Intermediate II 16-25 test, which determined the team medals. Team USA “Star Spangled” finished on 137.911, with Canada on 134.

Ebeling, 20, rode the Nuvolari Holdings LLC’s 12-year old gelding by Spielberg — the same sire as Steffen Peters’ Suppenkasper, who was also in action and on sparkling form at AGDF today. Ebeling and Illuster Van De Kampert scored 70%, which was the second-highest score in the class which was led by Natalie Pai (70.676%) from Team USA “Star Spangled.”

“He always lights up a little bit in this arena,” said the 20-year-old Ebeling. “Coming into the arena I could tell this was going to be one of those tests where I’d have to be precise. His passage was really great today and I was really pleased with his piaffe; he kept calm in that and maintained his balance. Coming into the walk was a little bit tricky as he’s so hot, but the canter work and the final center line were the highlights.”

Ebeling has ridden on a number of youth teams, including being on the North American Youth Championship junior team in 2017 that won gold. “It was really cool to have two U.S. teams [competing here]. Even though we were competing against each other, we’re all back in the barn having fun and we’ve had team meetings and a team dinner.”

Asher rode Seeley Equestrian Ventures’ Elegance N to the third-highest score of 69.559%.

The 18-year-old, who was riding on a team for the first time, said: “I’ve had Elegance since April of last year so he’s relatively new to me. It’s been interesting because before that my horse was very much a schoolmaster and I asked, and things just happened. Today Elegance did not disappoint, and I was really proud of him.”

Of the team experience, she added: “I was a jumper before I rode dressage and I always felt that dressage was an individual sport. With jumping you travelled more as a barn and did things as a team, and I’d felt that dressage was really individual, so it’s been really interesting to get to be on a team and the support has been great. Having the team on the rail was really special and I really enjoyed that.”

Julian-Simoes, 24, rode Rankrado to 64.382% and had a rocky lead-up to the show: “Coming into this week it was a little bit rough because I had the flu last week, so I was just really excited to be able to compete and Rankrado, who I’ve had for about three years, gave me a lot of good moments. We had some unfortunate mistakes, but he is quite a hot horse and he’s taught me a lot.”

Team USA “Star Spangled” was made up of class winner Natalie Pai, who rode Utopie d’Ouilly, a Selle Français mare by Quite Easy, to 70.676%. She was flanked by Hope Cooper and Kerrigan Gluch. Cooper rode Hot Chocolate W, by Hochadel, to 67.235% and fifth place. Gluch rounded out the team with a 65.059% on the PRE stallion Vaquero HGF.

Team USA “Stars and Stripes” chef d’equipe George Williams, who is also the U.S. Dressage Youth Coach, said: “I’m very proud of our riders on both U.S. teams. I think it really reflects the programs and what we’ve been trying to do in our whole coaching program and the way we all try to work together. I think these riders are really making tremendous strides; it’s wonderful to see. Terri Kane of Diamante Farms has stepped up to the plate from day one and has been a sponsor of this. I think it’s through programs like that that we’re really able to move forward in these exciting times.”

Third-placed team Canada was spearheaded by Vanessa Creech-Terauds who rode Hallmark 3 to 67.147%. She was joined by Camille Career Bergeron on Acoeur (66.853%) as well as Laurence Blais Tetreault who rode Utah to 66%.

The senior team CDIO contest is at its mid-way point, with five teams — the USA, Canada, Denmark, Israel, and Japan — battling it out. Team USA, which consists of Adrienne Lyle, Katherine Bateson Chandler, Anna Marek, and Steffen Peters, sits in a precarious lead, with a current score of 217.131.

Second-placed team Canada (Naima Moreira Laliberte, Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu, Megan Lane, and Lindsay Kellock) sit on 217.109, just a hair’s breadth behind, so tomorrow’s concluding team action is sure to be nail-biting. Denmark (Signe Kirk Kristiansen, Agnete Kirk Thinggaard, Rikke Poulsen, and Carina Nevermann Torup) lie in third on 212.707 with Japan and Israel’s teams still in touching distance of the podium.

In the individual FEI Grand Prix CDI3*, presented by Premier Equestrian, the in-form Sabine Schut-Kery (USA) rode 14-year-old Sanceo to victory. Alice Womble’s elegant San Remo stallion, which Schut-Kery has been riding since he was three, posted 71.804%, with all five judges placing the pair first. Mexico’s Olympic hopeful Martha Fernanda Del Valle Quirarte finished closest, riding Beduino Lam to 69.478%. Jill Irving (CAN) rounded out the podium with 68.761% on Arthur, by Jazz.

Week 10 of the 12-week AGDF continues on Thursday with six classes, three of which are at grand prix level. The Peacock Ridge-sponsored FEI Grand Prix CDI3*, which is a qualifier for the Grand Prix Special, kicks off at 8 a.m, with the under-25 riders starting at 13.55 and the conclusion of the senior team event, the FEI Grand Prix Special CDIO3*, presented by Stillpoint Farm, beginning at 17.20. There is also small tour action on this packed out day. AGDF 2020 runs for 12 weeks, through March 29. For more information and results, visit