WELLINGTON, Fla.--Laura Graves and Verdades, currently ranked number two in the world, performed a beautiful test and earned a score of 84.935 percent to win the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W on Friday, Jan. 25, at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington.
“This freestyle was nice," said Graves. "This was the second time I’ve ridden to this music. I’m definitely feeling a little more comfortable with it. I’m glad to add another good score to qualifying for the World Cup Finals. In a normal year we’d be qualified by now, but we have one more show to do so we’ll be back at the end of February, I believe, to hopefully qualify.”
Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet, a 16-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding by Diamond Hit owned by Diane Perry, was second with a score of 82.425 percent.
“The weather was great for Dublet, he loves the cold weather, said Perry-Glass. “It really gets him a little bit more amped. I’m just very proud of him for this show, to come out and score a personal best in yesterday’s grand prix out of WEG. Unfortunately, I had a little bit of a spook coming in the freestyle, so that kind of put me a little behind my music. I felt a little rushed throughout my choreography, but he nailed everything.”
SHELLY FRANCIS and Danilo, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding by De Niro x Annabella owned by Patricia Stempel, earned a score of 80.535 percent and came in third place in the freestyle.
“I just feel like my horse is really kind of liking this freestyle,” said Francis. “He kind of gets a little pumped up tonight with the cooler weather. It was good. He felt really fun and awesome though; he was just trying to do everything. The piaffe and passage and pirouettes are always getting better, and he’s always been pretty good about the changes. He’s kind of coming into himself.”
The judge at C, Michael Osinski, pointed out - and it was confirmed - that for the first time in a dressage competition in the U.S., the top three earned above 80 percent.
“It just was an honor to watch all three of you, such elegant, harmonious, beautiful riders," said Osinski." It was just great, and I wish them all the best.”
AGDF Director of Sport Thomas Baur also pointed out that Adrienne Lyle and Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven of Sweden placed fourth and fifth with top scores above and near 79 percent.
“I think that we did not have many qualifiers in the Western European league this year or last year, that were that strong,” he said. “I think we have come a long way here, and it’s pretty amazing.”