The lights of the Dixon Oval illuminated the first qualifying pair for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final Riyadh (KSA) to be hosted April 16-20, 2024 from the North American League. Dressage at Devon, presented by Kingsview Partners, is part of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ – North American League offering the CDI-W Grand Prix Musical Freestyle each year at the show, which ran Sept. 26-Oct. 1.
As a long-time staple on the qualifier calendar for one of the biggest events in international dressage each year, top riders from around the country make their way to the historic show for a chance to ride in one of the best competition settings in North America. Known for it’s electric atmosphere, Benjamin Ebeling and Indeed tapped into the energy of the fully-packed grand stands in the Dixon Oval to deliver a performance worthy of contesting for the World Cup title next spring, earning more than just a blue ribbon.
The field of competitors for the CDI-W Grand Prix Musical Freestyle presented by Kingsview Partners was stacked as the Dixon Oval saw the top ranked riders on the FEI Dressage World Cup™ North American League Standings including No. 8 ranked rider, Evi Strasser of Canada; No. 9 ranked rider, Michael Bragdell of the US, as well as top young competitors Benjamin Ebeling and Hope Cooper. It even saw the return of Tokyo Olympic pair, Yvonne Losos de Muñiz of the Dominican Republic and her long-time partner, Aquamarijn.
Ebeling delivered a show-stopping score, posting a score of 77.325% aboard the 2008 Danish Warmblood mare by Hofrat out of De Niro 6. The pair is one step closer to their goal of qualifying for the FEI World Cup Dressage Finals in Saudi Arabia in 2024. Ebeling spoke highly of his partner, saying, “She speaks for herself; we have developed a great partnership and we have spent a lot of time together, trying and failing, and failing is really part of the journey to get to successes like these. The freestyle is made up of all strong female diva roles which really suits her, it’s all for her, and she knows it. She has been in the family, owned by Vantage Equestrian Group II, LLC for five years, and I have been lucky enough to have the ride on her for two years.”
The theme of old guard versus new wave was in full effect on Saturday night during the freestyle as fellow up-and-coming rider, Tanya Strasser-Shostak, daughter of Evi Strasser, and her mom’s mount, Fidelis Tyme claimed the second-place position on a personal best score of 74.280%. It was a big evening for Strasser-Shostak and the 2010 Oldenburg gelding by Moosbachhof’s Fit for Fun out of Peron, who not only competed in her first-ever CDI-W freestyle and made it on the podium, but the Canadian rider has also qualified for a reserve spot on her country’s team for the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile later this fall.
“It is his first Grand Prix season, our first season together, our first musical freestyle under the lights – for both of us, first World Cup qualifier,” Strasser-Shostak said, “there were a lot of firsts here tonight!” The pair only started doing CDI’s in May. “We thought, in preparation for the Pan Am’s, let’s do Devon and try to see how it goes. I mean, honestly, every ride on him is literally the biggest gift. I mean, I know that’s super cheesy, but I’m so grateful to have him, he’s just so honest and has such a big heart, he’s so kind and he’s very much with me.” She continued stating, “I’m just so over the moon with it. The atmosphere tonight was just incredible. It is just amazing to have this type of venue in North America and such a positive crowd, and such a wonderful group of organizers that really make it fun and have everything running smoothly, even though it’s such a big show.”
Rounding out the top three was yet another talented young rider, Hope Cooper and Jane Karol’s Flynn PCH, a 2006 Hanoverian stallion by Falsterbo out of Walt Lady (by Walt Disney), delivering a score of 74.115% and settling into the third-place podium spot.
Top young riders kicked off CDI competition for the highly-anticipated Saturday line-up of classes starting with the CDIU25 Grand Prix 16-25 sponsored by American Equus. Earning the blue ribbon was Allison Nemeth aboard Karen Nemeth’s 2011 Danish Warmblood mare, Tiko, (Tailormade Temptation x Akinos 2) on a score of 65.590%.
No stranger to Dressage at Devon, Vanessa Creech-Terauds and the 2012 Hanoverian gelding, Daniel L, owned and bred by Louise Leatherdale of Leatherdale Farms, earned a score of 64.795% ultimately taking home the second-place position. As an accomplished Canadian FEI Dressage Rider for Team Leatherdale, this was not Creech-Terauds’ first ribbon of the week. She and Leatherdale Farm’s 4-year-old Hanoverian mare, Duett, claimed the Reserve Champion title in the division earlier this week.
US rider Siena Harris-Gissler rode her newest mount, Status Royal OLD (Statesman OLD × Rubin Royal OLD) to 3rd place with a score of 64.615%.
The precursor to the main event, the CDI3* Grand Prix Special, saw Canada’s Evi Strasser and Déjà Vu Tyme go two-for-two here this year at Dressage at Devon, capturing the victory in both Friday night’s CDI3* Grand Prix Qualifier as well as Saturday’s CDI3* Grand Prix Special. The pair posted a 66.117% to take the victory over Christian Garweg, who posted a 64.745% aboard Karen Meyer’s 2009 Dutch Warmblood Gelding, Excalibur RS (Glock’s Johnson TN × Lancer II). Rounding out the podium in third was Emily Wyman and Gretchen Stearnsand’s, Chigali, a 2007 Dutch Warmblood Gelding Chigali, by Kigali out of Chronos.
Full results here.
~ with files from Phelps Media Group, Inc.