WELLINGTON, Fla.--The all-female American team dominated the FEI Nations Cup CDIO3* team competition on March 29 in the 12th and final week of the Global Dressage Festival at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida.
The team consisted of Ashley Holzer of New York, N.Y., Olivia LaGoy-Weltz of Haymarket, Va., Adrienne Lyle of Ketchum, Idaho and Sabine Schut-Kery of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and was led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover.
They finished on a total score of 452.327, while Canada claimed the silver medal on 424.855 and Australia won the bronze medal on 396.743, a historic bronze, the first time that nation has ever won a dressage Nations Cup medal of any color, and Spain finished fourth.
Unlike some other stages of this worldwide seven-leg Nations Cup series, teams at AGDF can be made up of big tour, small tour, or a mixture of big and small tour combinations.
In order to level the playing field, 1.5 percent is added to each grand prix score, with the small tour results remaining unaltered.
TEAMS CONSIST of three or four riders, with the best three scores from day one and the best three from day two determining the final results.
Adrienne Lyle and Salvino posted personal best scores in both the grand prix and the special tests, culminating in 76.894 percent (78.394 percent after adjustment) in the special, a huge new best for the pair.
A team from the USA has won six of the seven Nations Cup contests held at AGDF.
“This is an incredible event to be part of,” said Lyle, who was riding Salvino. “I’m so proud of my boy, putting two really solid, clean, powerful tests in for our team. He was a little tired today, but came out fighting — and that’s what you want.”
Her performances were supported by Olivia LaGoy-Weltz on Lonoir, impressive newcomer Sabine Schut-Kery on Sanceo and Ashley Holzer on Havanna 145.
Schut-Kery logged two plus-72 percent performances on Sanceo, despite only performing their first CDI grand prix test in January of this year.
“I could not be more happy with my horse in our first season of grand prix,” said the German-born rider who is now based in California. “It was really good practice to ride in another climate and see what your horse gives you. I’m super happy and look forward to the future.”
LaGoy-Weltz added more power to both her performances with Lonoir, and as a result ended up with a couple of small mistakes.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” she said. “There were still some bobbles, but when you go for more powerful, it can cause other things to happen. Then again, taking risks is how you make progress.”
DESPITE TWO solid performances on Diane Fellows’ inexperienced mare Havanna 145, Ashley Holzer was the drop score.
An error of course meant a costly 2 percent deducted from her grand prix special score, and prompted a teasing text from Fellows to Holzer that read: “Which test did you prefer, yours of the FEI’s? Don’t worry; it’s about the big picture.”
“Nobody will beat me up about that mistake more than myself," said Holzer. "My mare was a little green this week, but luckily my team-mates said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re all human’. They’re amazing girls and I’m very honored that everyone in the States has been so welcoming (since switching nationalities from Canadian).”
“Since the inception of the AGDF, this show has been a dream come true," said Dover. "I’ve watched the state of both American dressage, and all the countries that are here, rise up because of this amazing venue and the shows put on here. It’s fantastic what it’s done for the sport.”
“I’m so proud of these amazing women who are not only rising to the occasion but they are changing the game for American dressage as we go towards the World Equestrian Games," said Dover. "Of course that wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for incredible people like [trainer] Debbie McDonald and [owner] Betsy Juliano, to whom we owe so much, and so many more people.”
SPEARHEADING the Canadian team with a new best in the grand prix special test of 71.304 percent (72.649 percent after adjustment) was Brittany Fraser and her 13-year-old All In, who has blossomed during the Festival.
“I had a personal best today,” she said. “We still had a mistake in the ones, but I’ll fix that tomorrow in the freestyle. I was proud of All In today. He was tired, but he tried.”
Fraser’s team-mate Megan Lane had double cause for celebration.
Not only did she help Canada to team silver riding Caravella, but she also won the Grand Prix CDI3* on Zodiac MW.
The Canadian team was rounded out by Jill Irving on Degas 12 and Diane Creech on Chrevis Christo.
The bronze-medal winners, Australia, were delighted with their historic result.
“Australia is a very, very long way from here and to put a team together is not so easy," said Small tour rider Kelly Layne, who rode Furst Amante. "This AGDF competition series is something we could never even imagine. It’s brought us here and, over the years, helped improve our performances. I’m so happy we could do it this year, and put ourselves in a bronze medal position. My horse is really green, but really fancy. He was with me the whole ride and the little mistakes were completely mine.”
Individual medals were awarded in the under-25 Grand Prix CDIO, presented by Diamante Farms, with Spain’s Juan Manuel Guimon, taking the gold on Don Diego Ymas with a score of 71.669 percent.
Molly Paris improved on her score from the inter II to win silver for the USA on her own 16-year-old mare Countess, scoring 68.508 percent, edging out Spain’s Rodrigo Encinas Fuentes on Van The Man who scored 67.778 percent.
“I enjoyed that test more than in I-2,” said Paris. “Countess has strong passage and piaffe and I really like to showcase it. She’s not the easiest, but once you get her going, she’s brilliant.”
THE UNDER 25 team for the USAmerica won the silver medal at the Festival in their CDIO competition.
The team consisted of Kerrigan Gluch of Wellington, Fla., riding Bolero XCLVII, Natalie Pai of Wellington, Fla., on her own Unlimited and Molly Paris of Charlotte, N.C., on her Countess.
The riders contested the CDIO U25 Intermediaire II class for the team medals, and Spain won the gold medal, while the Canada 1 team won bronze.
Paris and Countess had the team high score of 66.706 percent.
“These girls are like family,” said Paris of her teammates. “We’ve known each other since juniors and we’ve been through everything together. My mare tries so very hard for me; she’s super talented and I really can’t ask for more.”