Adrienne Lyle and Salvino made a strong recovery, improving on their Grand Prix performance from Thursday to ride an error-free test and win the Grand Prix Special 5* on Saturday, February 10, at the Global Dressage Festival (GDF) in Wellington, Florida.
Lyle and 11-year-old Salvino cruised to victory with 75.319%, representing a new personal best high score for the pair. The top three in the class represented a clean podium sweep for the U.S.A. in the fifth week of GDF at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).
Lyle had her Salvino much more regular in the passage and the trot extensions were a highlight. In the canter the stallion was ridden in a too open body frame which led to the black dropping on the forehand in the canter extensions and tempi changes, even though the stallion showed ground covering changes. The improvement from Thursday's Grand Prix was a great one, but there is still much room for fine-tuning of this pair, who is only in its first year at Grand Prix.
The panel of five international judges saw that Lyle had her stallion much more on the aids, which led to euphoric scoring from American judge Foy (78.085%) while Danish judge Matthiesen remained more skeptical (71.064%). The other three judges stayed round 75%.
“I was thrilled with him today,” said Lyle, who trains with Debbie McDonald and rides the Sandro Hit stallion for owner Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano. “It means a ton to win the five-star special; this is huge, especially on a horse who we haven’t even been competing a full year at this level. In the grand prix he was running a little bit through my aids, so today we took the time to make him stay back and wait. He felt like he was right with me throughout the whole test. If he understands what you want, he always does it for you. He has tremendous potential that we’re only just beginning to tap into.”
Australian judge Susan Hoevenaars agreed, saying, “There was so much harmony and it was a joy to judge.”
The winner of the grand prix, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz, had to settle for second place on her own Lonoir, a 14-year-old gelding by De Noir, logging 72.851%.
“The goal is clean rides, but I left the ones [the one-time changes] in the warm-up,” she said. “We did a super line right before we went in, but I think we were both a bit over-heated. I was super proud of him; the quality level is coming up and everyone has full confidence that the consistency is going to fall into place. When it does, it’s going to be pretty cool.”
Third placed Arlene ‘Tuny’ Page was pleased to be able to put two sub-70% scores on Woodstock at GDF in January behind her, and her ever-improving performances elevated her from seventh in the grand prix.
“I was happy with how my horse presented himself and with the quality of his gaits,” she said of the 15-year-old gelding by Havel. “This is only our fourth test back this season and it’s taken four rides to get him back and for him to wait for me. Now it’s a question of developing more inner calmness in the next two months as he settles into the routine again.”
In the Intermediate I 3* the U.S.A.’s Jennifer Baumert and Handsome were once again the only combination rewarded with over 70% — exactly as per their prix st georges win on Wednesday.
Baumert was also riding a horse owned by Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano, this one a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Hochadel x Weltmeyer. She was the unanimous winner for all five judges, scoring 70.941%.
Text by Alice Collins (GDF press release, edited by ED) - Photos © Astrid Appels
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