It was a bonanza of Grand Prix classes on the opening day of week three of the 2022 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL, with two four-star classes and two three-star contests. It was a day replete with personal best scores and first international wins. AGDF, which hosts seven weeks of CDI competition, runs through April 3.
The day’s top score came from British rider Susan Pape, who scored a new best of 73.239% to lead the Grand Prix for Special CDI4*, presented by Harmony Sporthorses. Riding her own and Harmony Amateur Sports Foundation’s Harmony’s Eclectisch, Pape convinced all five judges, winning unanimously with scores up to 74.348%. This was the 13-year-old Zenon stallion’s first CDI grand prix win. They beat Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén (SWE) and Devanto, double winners from AGDF1, by almost four percentage points. Canadian Diane Creech finished third with Chrevis Christo.
“Eclectisch was on fire, and it was an awesome feeling; absolutely special,” enthused the 60-year-old, who was last to go in the class. “He was really focused and in front of me, and to win was fabulous. [There were] no mistakes, no rubber legs. I sometimes have problems with the changes, but it’s not the horse, it’s me.
“I think the canter work was without any mistakes and with a lot of expression. He did lovely pirouettes [the right pirouette scored a nine], and the changes are always big. Going down the last centerline I thought, ‘Ahh that’s cool.’ Hopefully I can preserve this ride and put it into the special. That would be awesome.”
This is Harmony’s Eclectisch’s fifth consecutive season in Wellington and the second year he has contested grand prix level. Pape has been riding him since he was seven, and the pair were on the bronze medal-winning British team in the Nations Cup at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen, Germany, in 2021.
“He hasn’t done so many shows actually,” said Pape. “Here in Wellington, you have one CDI after the other, but in Europe it’s different, so we try to pick really nice shows. Aachen was incredible. Being on the team and getting third place was really nice.
“Eclectisch is such a pal in his stall, and no matter where he is he always feels at home. As long as he’s got food — he tends to be a little bit chunky — he’s happy and a lovely personality,” added Pape, who has up to 90 horses back at her home base in Germany. “This is really nice being here with four horses, and I have the time and the focus.”
Pape will head back to Europe in March for her farm’s breeding season and plans to compete in Hagen, Germany.
It was a momentous day for Spanish rider Paula Matute Guimón, who rode her own and Julie McAllister’s Delagronge to victory in the Grand Prix for Freestyle CDI4*, presented by U.S. P.R.E. Association. Not only did the pair post a personal best of 69.282%, but it was also Matute Guimón’s first win at the level — and only her second ever four-star show.
“I did a personal best a couple weeks ago in the freestyle, and now another today,” said the 26-year-old. “It sounds cheesy, but I can’t believe it and I’m a little bit in shock. It’s definitely an amazing reward for all this hard work, and I want to keep improving.”
Matute Guimón — whose brother is fellow international dressage rider Juan Matute Guimón — only started competing the stallion by De Niro at the end of last year, having first met him when he came to her barn as a client’s horse. They have only done a handful of shows together, but Matute Guimón is enthusiastic about the new partnership.
“He’s a stallion, so he can sometimes be a little bit challenging,” she said. “Today as we started the test he tried to say, ‘Hey Paula, maybe not today.’ As the test went by, I convinced him that I had a better plan, and he said, ‘Okay, yes ma’am,’ and it ended up working my way. Sometimes stallions have a mind of their own, but I was able to pull out a really nice round.”
The pair will contest the freestyle under lights on Friday night, the showcase class of AGDF 3. She will perform to a soundtrack previously used by her brother. Beyond that, Matute Guimón is excited to compete in the World Cup™ class during AGDF 5 alongside Juan.
“It’s going to be our first competition together in a very, very long time,” added Matute Guimón, who has been a Wellington resident for a decade. “That’s already like a win for us, and also for my father. To have two kids showing at the World Cup competition is amazing regardless of what happens, but of course I’m going to try my best.”
Germany’s Christoph Koschel filled second place riding Favorito 11 (68.304%), while the USA’s Mikala Münter finished third on Salsa Hit with 66.696%.
Another budding international rider, Benjamin Ebeling (USA), topped the Grand CDI3*, a qualifier for the three-star freestyle, sponsored by Beatrice Marienau Dressage. Ebeling, 22, rode Indeed, the Vantage Equestrian Group’s 13-year-old Danish daughter of Hofrat to 68.196%, with a top score of 71.522% from the E judge, Janet Foy.
It was his CDI grand prix debut on the horse formerly campaigned by his father, Olympian Jan Ebeling, who finished third on Bellena. It was also the first time father and son had gone head to head. Germany’s Michael Klimke (Domino 957) finished second.
Canadian rider Pia Fortmüller provided the only plus-70% score to top the Grand Prix for Special CDI3*, presented by ProElite®. The top three in the 11-strong class all posted personal best scores, but it was Fortmüller’s day aboard her own 11-year-old Fürstenball mare Frieda. Fortmüller has trained the horse since she was a youngster, and this was their first international grand prix appearance. They scored 70.457%.
Ali Potasky (USA) continued her winning ways from AGDF 1 when she led the Prix St. Georges CDI3*, presented by VitaFlex. First to go, Potasky piloted Kathy Priest’s nine-year-old KWPN mare by Everdale, Irintha, to 68.147%.
Dressage resumes on Friday morning with eight classes across the day, including juniors, young riders, Small Tour and two Grand Prix freestyle classes during “Friday Night Stars” in the evening under the lights. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.
Results: Grand Prix for Special CDI4*, presented by Harmony Sporthorses
Place, rider, nationality, horse, horse information: judge E%, judge H%, judge C%, judge M%, judge B%, final score
E, Jacques van Daele (BEL); H, Yuri Romanov (RUS); C, Janet Foy (USA); M, Thomas Lang (AUT); B, Mariano Santos Redondo (ESP)
1. Susan Pape (GBR) on Harmony’s Eclectisch, her own & Harmony Amateur Sports’ 13yo KWPN stallion by Zenon: 72.609, 72.935, 74.348, 73.152, 73.152, 73.239
2. Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén (SWE) on Devanto, Lövsta Stuteri AB’s 13yo gelding by De Chirico: 67.065, 70.978, 69.565, 68.587, 69.239, 69.087
3. Diane Creech (CAN) on Chrevis Christo, her own & Louise Leatherdale’s 19yo Danish Warmblood gelding by Chrevi’s Cavallo: 64.565, 67.065, 68.696, 68.804, 66.957, 67.217
4. Jessica Howington (USA) on Cavalia, her own 15yo KWPN mare by Sir Donnerhall I: 67.283, 68.696, 65.109, 66.739, 66.739, 66.913
5. Susan Dutta (USA) on Figeac DC, her own & Tim Dutta’s 13yo Oldenburg gelding by Fackeltanz OLD: 67.065, 69.13, 64.457, 65.543, 65.217, 66.282
6. Kevin Kohmann (USA) on Dinamico, his own 12yo Oldenburg gelding by Dylano: 62.935, 61.413, 60.217, 61.413, 59.348, 61.065
Results: Grand Prix for Freestyle CDI4*, presented by U.S. P.R.E. Association
E, Yuri Romanov (RUS); H, Janet Foy (USA); C, Thomas Lang (AUT); M, Mariano Santos Redondo (ESP); B, Jacques van Daele (BEL)
1. Paula Matute Guimón (ESP) Delagronge, her own & Julie McAllister’s 14yo Oldenburg stallion by De Niro: 68.261, 68.804, 71.63, 68.587, 69.13, 69.282
2. Christoph Koschel (GER) on Favorito 11, Koschel Dressage GmbH’s 12yo Lusitano gelding by Vulcano: 69.13, 68.913, 68.587, 65.543, 69.348, 68.304
3. Mikala Münter (USA) on Salsa Hit, her own & Paul Bint’s 13yo Oldenb url gelding by Samba Hit III: 67.717, 65.217, 67.609, 65.978, 66.957, 66.696
4. Joanne Vaughan (GEO) on Al Martino 10, her own 18yo Holstein gelding by Almoretto: 60.109, 62.826, 60.326, 61.304, 60.435, 61