After a break of 18 months, Olivia LaGoy Weltz (USA) and her long-time partner Lonoir came back to the competition arena to claim the FEI Grand Prix CDI-W, presented by U.S. P.R.E. Association. They led the 19-strong class with 73.435% on the opening day of CDI action in week three 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.
This was the 16-year-old De Noir gelding’s first international show since Aachen in Germany in July 2018, and he won with more than 3% in hand over Lindsay Kellock (CAN), whose 70.087% on Enterprise Farms LLC’s 14-year-old Sebastien was good enough for second place. Spain’s Juan Matute Guimon, who is a regular at AGDF, filled third on his father’s 17-year-old gelding Don Diego, by Don Frederico. The class was a qualifier for the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W under lights on Friday night, which will also feature demonstrations from Blue Hors and the US P.R.E. Association.
LaGoy Weltz had already been considering a very quiet 2019 for Lonoir in preparation for their Tokyo 2020 Olympic campaign, and the decision was finally taken out of her hands after a farriery issue in December 2018 put him out of action.
“He had a bad shoeing session and his foot growth was completely stunted; when the foot is that aggravated, it takes a long time for it to start growing again,” explained LaGoy Weltz. “He has asymmetric feet anyway, with one very flat and one upright. So I think the competition break was meant to be and we really wanted to come back from the time off better than ever.”
Their triumphant return proved that the notoriously electric horse has benefitted from the break, but he still looked lively and fresh in the prize-giving.
“He’s been a very sturdy horse and I think we’re tapping into his best now,” added LaGoy-Weltz. “I have a feeling it’s going to have paid off big-time. He feels fresh and amazing and happy to be in there. I’m happy that we could just go out there and clock out a clean test for 73%.
“He’s always been very hot and we’ve always tried to make it quiet, and now I finally feel really ready to try and ride him more on the edge. That may make for some spectacular things and some mistakes also, but I think we’re really ready to take those risks and feel like all the training and maturity is coming together.”
From first draw in two classes, Korean rider Dongseon Kim finished fourth riding his own 13-year-old stallion Belstaff to 67.783% in the grand prix, but he picked up a winner’s sash in the FEI Prix St. Georges CDI3*, supported by Horseware Ireland. His small tour horse Bordolino 8 is an eight-year-old gelding by Bordeaux, and together they posted an unassailable 68.579%, with a high score of 71.47% from one judge.
In the morning’s hotly-contested Grand Prix CDI3*, presented by Blue Hors, it was the USA’s Steffen Peters who came out top of the 28 starters in the mammoth class in which the top seven combinations all scored 70% or more.
Peters and Four Winds Farm’s 18.2hh gelding Suppenkasper repeated their grand prix win from AGDF week one, albeit this time with a much improved score of 74.696% versus their opening week’s 70.826%.
“In comparison to the grand prix test from two weeks ago, it was much better and he felt about 10 times more confident,” said the California-based 55-year-old Peters. “It was like riding a crazy hurricane two weeks ago, but today I rode a nice gentle breeze. My wife Shannon told me to go for the gentle breeze, and that works perfectly with ‘Mopsie’. The only thing was he tried to anticipate the second pirouette a little bit, but he was so much more reliable in the changes and I could get the piaffe more in place.”
He added: “I am super excited that there were two 76% scores in there from two of the judges, which is exactly what we’re looking for. We need to show consistency for our team, for our coach, for the nation, for the Olympics. So today was a wonderful start and I’m hopefully looking forward to doing it again in the special on Saturday.”
Denmark’s seasoned competitor Agnete Kirk Thinggaard rode Blue Hors Zatchmo, an 11-year-old stallion by Zack, into second place with 72.391% and filled fourth on the Danish stud’s other breeding stallion Blue Hors Don Olymbrio (71.783%). Kirk Thinggaard’s two horses were split by USA rider Charlotte Jorst, who was last to go. She piloted Kastel’s Nintendo, a 17-year-old by Negro to third place with 72.217%.
Week three of the 12-week AGDF continues on Friday with classes including the CDI1* Prix St. Georges class, the under-25 Intermediate II and para individual and championship classes, as well as the showcase class, the FEI World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle to music, presented by US P.R.E., under lights during the evening session. AGDF 2020 runs for 12 weeks, through March 29. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.
FEI Grand Prix CDI-W, presented by US P.R.E. Association
1. Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (USA) on Lonoir, her own 16yo Danish Warmblood gelding by De Noir: 74.891, 71.739, 72.5, 74.783, 73.261, 73.435
2. Lindsay Kellock (CAN) on Sebastien, Enterprise Farms LLC’s 14yo Rheinlander gelding by Sandro Hit: 70.978, 68.261, 69.239, 70.761, 71.196, 70.087
3. Juan Matute Guimon (ESP) on Don Diego, Juan Matute Sr’s 17yo Hanoverian gelding by Don Frederico: 67.935, 70.761, 68.261, 67.717, 67.609, 68.457
4. Dongseon Kim (KOR) on Belstaff Dongseon, his own 13yo Hanoverian stallion by Brentano II: 65.109, 69.022, 68.261, 67.717, 68.804, 67.783
5. Caroline Darcourt (SWE) on Paridon Magi, Lovsta Stuteri’s 17yo Danish Warmblood gelding by Don Primero: 69.13, 70.217, 66.739, 66.739, 64.348, 67.435