Tina Konyot and Calecto V have competed lightly but successfully in South Florida this winter and now their bid to compete in the 2013 World Cup Final rests on their performance in the March 21-24 International Horse Sport Champions Cup CDI-W held at Equestrian Estates in Loxahatchee, Florida. Konyot must overtake Canadians David Marcus and Jacqueline Brooks, which currently lead in the North American League, if she wants to go to the Finals in Gothenburg.
The IHS Champions Cup is the final World Cup qualifier for the North American League. Horse and rider combinations must post two scores in designated World Cup qualifying events to be eligible to compete. The two highest-scoring combinations earn a place at the Final, which is slated for April 25-28 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Konyot and Calecto V earned their first qualifying score in the Feb. 14-17 Florida Dressage Classic CDI-W, part of the 2013 Global Dressage Festival. They were awarded 76.775% for their Grand Prix Freestyle performance, the highest North American League score recorded to date on the road to qualification for the 2013 World Cup.
After the most recent World Cup qualifier, the Feb. 28-March 3 Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W, Canadian duo David Marcus and Chrevi's Capital stood atop the leaderboard for the North American League with an average of 73.975% for their top two qualifying Grand Prix Freestyle scores. Fellow Canadians Jacqueline Brooks and D Niro were in second with an average of 72.600%.
To obtain the required second qualifying score and secure a spot in the World Cup Final, Konyot must compete in the IHS Champions Cup and post a score high enough to overtake Brooks in the standings. With two Canadians currently holding the top places, Konyot and Calecto V represent the last U.S. hopes for the World Cup Final.
The International Horse Sport competitions have proven to be essential stops for riders hoping to qualify for the World Cup Final. Several riders put themselves on the leaderboard with strong results at the historic Palm Beach Dressage Derby. Jaimey Irwin and Lindor's Finest took third and Diane Creech and Devon L claimed fourth after both pairs earned their second-highest qualifying scores of the season at the Dressage Derby. Brooks also collected a key score there on her way to her current second-place standing.
Brooks, Creech and Marcus all plan to return to Equestrian Estates for what is shaping up to be a competitive Grand Prix division. Along with his potential World Cup mount, Chrevi's Capital, Marcus will ride Don Kontes, with whom he finished third in the Grand Prix at the Dressage Derby. The Grand Prix also features several competitors who have been successful on the winter circuit thus far, including Lars Petersen and Mariett, winners of the Grand Prix and Freestyle at the Dressage Derby, and Shelly Francis and Doktor, who were second in both classes.
Brooks is ready to compete in the World Cup Final if given the opportunity, but thinks Konyot stands a good chance of taking over her spot. "Once Tina gets another score, then it will be Tina, David, then me," Brooks said. "I'm ready to go if one or the other decides not to, and I feel now that D Niro is ready to go. I'm very confident that he can go into big stadiums and actually enjoy it."
Konyot has been planning for the World Cup for some time and thinks that her horse is ready to put forth his best performance. "I feel quite confident," she said. "I planned my schedule many months out. I'm comfortable with my planning right now, and I think he's in a good place."
She added that the IHS Champions Cup has been a major goal for her on the road to the World Cup Final. "I consider every day important for me to prepare for something," she said. "Next week [the Champions Cup] is even more important for me to prepare for, because I only have one qualifying score, of over 76%, and I need one more score for that."
"I will probably put a little bit more pressure on him in this last competition," Konyot continued. "We all have to peak at the right moment, so I'm headed in that direction at this present time."
If Konyot and Calecto V deliver the performance Konyot is hoping for, spectators at the Champions Cup will have quite the show as she goes head-to-head with other top competitors and tries to earn her remaining qualifying score.
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2013 World Cup circuit