WELLINGTON, Fla--Olivia LaGoy-Weltz riding Lonoir won the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI4* at the Winter Equestrian Festival Global Dressage Festival on March 16, making it five wins from six starts for the pair.
Their score of 76.6 percent in week 10 of the Festival was a personal best for the pair, whose previous high freestyle score was 74.425 pecent, achieved in Aachen in July 2017.
"I was really happy with him, especially as he was epically airborne last time we were in this setting, so I’m thrilled we kept our feet on the ground,” said LaGoy-Weltz of her own 14-year-old Danish warmblood gelding. “When he’s waiting for me and on the same page, it’s a pretty cool feeling, and there’s a lot available there, even more than we’re showing now.”
LaGoy-Weltz upgraded her music last year, adapting an existing small tour freestyle soundtrack.
“We hadn’t used it a whole lot, so I asked Terri [Gallo] if we could grow it," said LaGoy-Weltz. "I like the music. It’s called ‘Ain’t Misbehaving’, which is somewhat fitting. Though we are working on something new as he’s a much ‘bigger’ horse now, it seemed to work for tonight, so we’re not in a huge hurry. This one is not overly complicated as it was designed as a starter one, so we’ll have more challenging stuff in the next one. And we’ll highlight the flow and power that he’s so good at.”
ARLENE ‘TUNY" PAGE finished second on Woodstock, finishing on their second best ever freestyle score of exactly 75 percent.
“He’s matured a lot in the last three months,” said Page, who rode to music from the movie Amistad that she used with her former grand prix horse Wild One. “We had a super rough start as he’s very sensitive with wind, but at every show this season he’s developed more.
“This was only ever starter music, but I knew one day I’d have another horse who it would suit, and Marlene Whitaker is a flipping genius, and she reworked the music to suit Woodstock,” said Page.
The test is a technically demanding one, which Page designed two years ago with the intention of maximizing the difficulty.
“It’s full of difficult things in difficult sequences," said Page. "The idea was to layer complicated sequences one after the other. I’m actually comfortable riding it now, and Woodstock is a horse with a lot of alacrity and sensitivity, though he can be a scallywag. It’s nice riding the freestyle because he never anticipates, because I rarely practice.”
Juan Matute Guimon, Spain’s 20-year-old riding star, was once again on the “Friday Night Stars” podium, finishing third on his father’s Don Diego Ymas, a 15-year-old by Don Frederico.
Judge Janet Foy, who was presiding from C, said: “Having judged these guys over the season, there has been so much improvement. It’s really exciting to be able to sit there as judges and give eights and nines. All three of these top tests were so clear and focused, so we could really enjoy watching and judging.”
BEATRICE ‘Trixi’ Marienau, a German-born 47-year-old American, won the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3*, givng her back-to-back wins, having also won the grand prix.
Riding the equal oldest horse in the class, the 19-year-old Gribaldi gelding Stefano 8, she scored 72.1 percent, the only plus-70 percent of the class.
Marienau is an unlikely dressage winner, having previously show jumped, then becoming cowgirl on a ranch, before finally turning to dressage, despite what she terms “ring-phobia” that requires her to meditate before each test.
Their double win in week 10 was a first for Marienau, who has only two previous wins in the five years she and Stefano 8 have been competing together at international grand prix.
Their winning freestyle score is their second highest ever, and their best for two years.
“He’s a firecracker, and I appreciate every day I have with him,” said Marienau, who bought ‘Fino’ in 2012. “I feel his age sometimes, so in the training we really work a lot on the suppleness so he can come through with the beautiful exercises that he knows how to do. Tonight I asked him to dance for me, so he did.
“He was already a trained grand prix horse, but in the beginning the switch from a man to a woman rider was difficult, so we took our time and have been working with Lilo Fore ever since. I only rode my first grand prix in 2011, so Fino has done so much for me, including going to the Festival of Champions and onto my first Nations Cup team, which was a big dream of mine,” she said.
James Koford was second on Adiah HP with a score of 69.555 percent, with Canada’s Jill Irving finishing third on her own Arthur with 69.12 percent.
Tina Konyot on Diamantino II topped the huge Prix St Georges CDI1* class.
Of the 26 entries, the top three all scored over 70 percent, with Konyot posting 70.343, which was helped bolstered by her high score of 73.088 percent from the judge at C, Janet Foy.
This was the horse’s second win in his nine small tour FEI starts, having kicked off his CDI career in January of this year.
This was the first time he had scored better than 70 percent.
American Lauren Asher on Event and Germany’s Michael Klimke on Diabolo tied for second place, each scoring 70.098 percent.