The final Grand Prix Freestyle of the 2017 Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, concluded on Friday 24 March 2017 with another Canadian win with Megan Lane and Caravella. Earlier in the day Canadian Tina Irwin won the Intermediaire I Kur to Music, while American Anna Buffini took the trophy in the Under 25 Freestyle.
The last class of the night, the Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO 3*, presented by Stillpoint Farm, presented the gold medal to Megan Lane (CAN) and her own Caravella, a 2001 KWPN mare (by Contango x Riverman), scoring an impressive 74.550%.
Lane described her win, “I am thrilled. It’s still a little surreal, and I’m at a loss for words really. I’m so happy! I was happy with the whole test; you have to be on top of your game when you’re competing against riders like this. I’m just really happy with the whole thing.”
Lane and Caravella have been paired together for eight years and started in the junior division.
“We’re both getting better and better. It’s been an amazing journey,” she recalled. “I’m so lucky to have her. It was destiny meeting her, and I’m so privileged to be on this road with her. We are still growing all of the time so that’s the most exciting part for me.”
Regarding her freestyle test, Lane said, “She comes alive at night when she sees the lights and hears the music. You have to have your timing perfect, but I’m lucky because we know each other so well and that’s a huge asset.”
Shelly Francis (USA) and Doktor, a 2003 Oldenburg gelding (by Diamond Hit x Renoir I) owned by Patricia Stempel, were awarded the silver medal in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO 3*, with a score of 74.075%.
Francis commented, “Compared to the last week, I had him (Doktor) a hair more under control and maybe rode to my music a little quieter. He felt really honest and tried super hard, so I was very happy with him. He was a little calmer tonight and felt much easier to maneuver.”
Bronze went to Lisa Wilcox (USA) and Galant, a 2006 Belgian Warmblood gelding (by Escuro) owned by Jacqueline Shear, with 73.175%.
“I felt like Galant and I didn’t have the best weekend,” said Wilcox. “The last time I came out and we did the freestyle, there was a bit more energy. This is new for him, to do these three tests three days in a row. I could definitely feel that tonight; he was not quite as brilliant as he was in the last freestyle. Having said that, he was still very rideable and just missed a tick of the sparkle we had the first time with that freestyle. Overall though, I’m very honored to be a member of this team for the Nations Cup.”
USA team member Tuny Page spoke for Nations Cup and sponsor, Stillpoint Farm, “It’s the first Nations Cup in the entire series, so it’s wonderful to be the lead off [event]. After last year with the USA winning the entire series, we were looking for a really great start, and we did have a great start. The Canadians just had a slightly greater start. It was a great competition, and I think that everyone can agree that without great competition, you don’t ride your best.”
FEI Judge Thomas Lang (AUT), commented, “It was a great evening for dressage, and we saw some amazing tests this evening. Something can always go wrong, so you can never be certain that everything goes the way that you want it to. That is life as a dressage rider, and that’s life as a dressage judge. Everybody tonight had a good energy, and it was a great show.”
Tina Irwin Wins the CDIO Inter I Kur
Tina Irwin (CAN) and her own Laurencio, a 2007 Oldenburg gelding (Laurentio x Donnerhall), rounded out their weekend with a third win, this time in the Intermediaire I Freestyle CDIO 3*. The pair won the class with an impressive score of 76.500%.
Said Tina Irwin of her freestyle music choice, “I actually had the freestyle designed for a different horse, so I used it two years ago at the last Nations Cup. It happens to suit this horse better I think, so it kind of worked out. It’s a lot of work to design freestyles, so I thought that if I could use it again, I was going to go for it. I made it pretty difficult; I have four canter pirouettes and a lot of tempi lines, (and) I enter and finish with tempis. I wanted to make it difficult and also capture those artistic marks, because choreography and degree of difficulty counts.”
Second place was awarded to Tina’s husband Jaimey Irwin (CAN) and Donegal V, a 2008 KWPN gelding (by Johnson x Gribaldi) owned by Team Irwin Supporters Group, with 73.575%.
“We’re very good at competing against one another,” said Jaimey Irwin of his competitive relationship with his wife. “We’re always cheering each other on and helping each other.”
Tina Irwin added, “When Jaimey gets ahead of me, it pushes me more. I get like, ‘I’m going to beat him tomorrow now!’ So, it’s good. I’m very competitive and we push each other, so it’s good.”
Esther Mortimer (GUA) and Adajio, a 2004 Hanoverian gelding (by Alabaster x El Dorado) owned by Sue Schramayr, took the third-place spot with a 70.350%.
Mortimer kept her strong third place position behind the Irwins throughout the entire week of competition.
“I did do the Nations Cup two years ago, and I’m pretty sad that I don’t have a full team this year, but maybe next year we will have one. Regardless, this whole experience is wonderful, and it’s great to be here and be a part of it. I feel honored to be riding here, especially representing Guatemala.”
Buffini Wins the CDIO Under 25 Kur to Music
Victory in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 16-25 U25 CDIO 3*, presented by Diamante Farms, was captured by Anna Buffini (USA) and her own Sundayboy, a 1999 KWPN gelding (by Kennedy), with a score of 73.525%.
“This is surreal,” said Buffini, “A dream of mine has always been to compete a freestyle under the lights, and to do it on Sundayboy’s very last competition ever and to come out with the win, it’s just unbelievable. I owe him so much, and he tried his heart out for me. I’m so proud of him. He’s such a star.”
This was the final competition for the pair, who also won team gold at the North American Young Rider Championships in 2014. Sundayboy will be retiring as one of the most decorated Young Rider horses in the history of the United States.
Buffini continued, “He’s done all he needs to do for me, and I’m not going to ask anymore of him. He’s given me his whole heart, and that’s all I could have asked.”
Second place in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 16-25 U25 CDIO 3*, went to Sean Sierra Keasler (USA) and Lux Stensvang, a 2002 Danish gelding (by Lobster x Diamond) owned by Keasler, earning a score of 72.450%.
Commenting on her experiences, Keasler exclaimed, “All I wanted to do was ride that horse under the lights. I had witnessed it, I had groomed for previous employers, I had been behind the scenes, and all I wanted to do was ride under the lights myself. A long time ago I said, ‘The only way I will ride under these lights is if there is a U25 Nations Cup,’ and now here I am. It was a dream that became a goal, and now it’s a reality.”
Kaitlin Blythe (USA) and Don Principe, a 1999 Hanoverian stallion (by Donnerhall x Prince Thatch xx) owned by Maryanna Haymon, came in third with 68.575%.
“It was a magical feeling to compete here under the lights,” said Blythe. “It was only my second time riding this freestyle with this horse, so it was really fun to do it here. To be able to earn a medal was just really exciting for me. My horse loves to dance, and he just gets so excited; it was fun to feel him enjoy it.”
Devon Kane spoke on behalf of sponsor Diamante Farms, “We’re very honored to be able to support this first U25 Nations Cup here at AGDF and in the U.S. The caliber of riding, athleticism, and competitiveness between nations has been incredible. Everyone did incredibly well, and the level of sportsmanship has really been something to take note of.”
by Carly Weilminster, edited by Eurodressage - Photos © Sue Stickle
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