Heather Blitz, the last rider to enter the ring on Saturday evening 17 March, rode her Danish warmblood gelding Paragon to a score of 75.350% to win the Grand Prix Freestyle at the $15,000 Wellington Dressage Classic CDI, presented by the Chesapeake Dressage Institute, held March 15-18 at the Global Dressage Festival Stadium show grounds in Wellington, FL.
Blitz had a rough day leading up to her win. With her four year old, she memorized the 4 year old FEI test, not the USEF 4 year old test. Then she managed to give the wrong freestyle music to the announcer. The jury allowed her to correct the snafu and return last to complete her test, but even that was not without trauma. Blitz could not find the correct music. Fortunately she had it on her phone, so the announcer was able to access it that way. "Yeah, I guess I learned my lesson," she said afterward.
Seven months ago Blitz was winning the silver medal at the Pan American Games with Paragon (by Don Schufro), now she may be becoming a strong contender for an Olympic spot. Blitz is coached by Steffan Peters and Anne Gribbons, and the pair has improved technically at every show.
"The horse has such a good temperament," said Blitz. "He's so willing. I don't even push him. I can't stop him, he wants to do this. He's stepping up to the challenge. It was a huge atmosphere here tonight. I am most excited technically for him.
"Paragon is just nine years old, continued Blitz. "It took him awhile to fill out, but he's loving his job so far, and it's great to be a part of.
"Paragon learned the tempi changes, piaffe and passage at six years of age. He couldn't put it together, but yeah, he was six. He's a remarkable horse."
Ashley Holzer riding Breaking Dawn was second in the Freestyle with a high score of 74.275%. Holzer now has two horses qualified to be selected by the Canadian team for the London Olympics. Her horses will be first and second on the Canadian's list for team members.
"As of tonight, I've qualified both horses for the Olympics," said a very happy Holzer. Talking about Breaking Dawn, she continued, "Pretty good for a horse who hasn't seen this atmosphere at night. He handled himself so well. It's an incredible horse. He only learned the one tempi changes in November. I am proud of him and will not push him, just allow it all to happen."
Anja Plonzke of Germany scored 73.350% on her horse Le Mont d'Or to finish the evening in third place. There was lots of enthusiasm for the pair, as the German show jumping riders, currently competing in the series at the Wellington Equestrian Festival across the street from the Global Dressage Festival, cheered her on. Plonzke smiled at the warm reception she received. "I had a great feeling in there," she said. "He did well."
Tina Konyot And Calecto V Victorious in Olympic Grand Prix Special
Tina Konyot and her Danish warmblood stallion Calecto V (by Come Back II) scored an impressive 72.644% to take the FEI Olympic Grand Prix Special. Konyot's competitive record proves she is a top athlete. She has been named to the USET Developing List, the USET Grand Prix List and short listed for the United States Olympic Equestrian Team. In 2010 Tina and Calecto V competed in the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky.
Steffan Peters and Anne Gribbons have been giving Elite Developing Clinic in Florida and California for the top horses and riders who may be in contention to be selected for the USA Team for the Olympics. Konyot took advantage of the opportunityto work with these two dressage greats.
"The last clinic with Steffan and Anne gave me direction," said Konyot. "He is still a stallion, and that can be difficult sometime, but I was very happy today. We are headed in a direction where we are both happy. This training program I have is the best one I've ever had, and having a support system behind me is a huge plus."
Two percentage points separated Konyot from her closest rival. Shawna Harding and Come On III scored 70.622% to capture second place, and Ashley Holzer with Pop Art garnered 70.378% to finish in third.
-- GDF Press release
Photos © Sue Stickle
Scores 2012 CDI Wellington
Roffman Triumphs at Wellington CDI at 2012 Global Dressage Festival
Holzer And Pop Art Shine at Wellington Dressage Classic CDI at 2012 Global Dressage Festival