WELLINGTON, Fla.--Laura Graves on Verdades led a sweep of the top three places by U.S. women at the “Friday Night Stars” Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W on March 1 at the Global Dressage Festival.
Graves rode Verdades to a score of 84.535 percent to secure her third qualifying score for the World Cup Final and to win the freestyle.
“I don’t count anything until it’s for certain.” said Graves. “Once I went down centerline, I thought, ‘Ok, hopefully this is my ticket to Sweden.’
“Honestly I started thinking about this venue and the sponsors that mean so much to me,” said Graves. “This is my last freestyle here this year. That was what went through my mind, not anything through the test. I wasn’t hardly thinking about that, I was thinking more about all of what has happened in six years here for me. It was different perspective for me.”
Kasey Perry-Glass on Goerklintgaards Dublet took second place in the freestyle with a score of 83.875 percent, their second highest score ever.
“He had a lot of energy. I wasn’t expecting that,” said Perry-Glass. “Coming off of a show last week I thought he was going to be a little more tired, but he was actually more lit than I’ve felt him in a while. We had little bucks and switches. It’s a good thing for him.
“Our trainer Debbie McDonald the whole time in my warm-up was just like, ‘Tell him he’s beautiful to calm him down a little bit.’ It was an amazing test,” she said. “I came out crying. It was one of those tests that just gave me goosebumps and made me feel lucky to have my horse.”
ADRIENNE LYLE on Salvino was third with a score of 80.160 percent, also their second-highest score together.
“Salvino was also pretty lit today, which caught us both by surprise," said Lyle. "I figured it was a hot week and he’d be tired tonight, but he came out on fire. “That was a little different strategy for me to deal with in the warm-up.
"What I was happy with is that he really just pulled it all together when we went down centerline," said Lyle. "He really let me keep my leg on and push him into the bridle better and get a little bit more consistent power throughout the test. Breaking into the 80s again is huge for us. I’m really excited. He just wants to try and keep up with his older brothers [Verdades and Goerklintgaards Dublet].”
Judge at C, Irina Maknami commented, “For me, it was really a pleasure to judge these fantastically talented ladies with their amazing horses. It’s really a special feeling when you see them and think, ‘I’m so lucky to be a judge,’ to be able to enjoy this. I think they’re just great. There was so much progress, and I wish them the best of luck at the World Cup Finals.”