Katherine Bateson-Chandler (USA) made it two wins from two starts in week seven of the 2020 Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, Florida. Last to go on a blustery and unseasonably cold night under lights, Bateson Chandler and her faithful partner Alcazar won the Grand Prix Freestyle 5* putting 76.105% on the board.
This is the only CDI5* competition held in the Western Hemisphere, and GDF 2020 runs for 12 weeks, through March 29.
The Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos De Muñiz danced her way to a 75.115% second place riding her bouncy bay mare Aquamarijn, a 15-year-old by United. Juan Matute Guimon (ESP) improved one place from his finish in the qualifying grand prix to round out the podium aboard his father Juan Matute Sr’s Don Diego to 72.76%, despite a challenging ride in the windy conditions.
Double 5* Win for Bateson-Chandler
Bateson Chandler was a groom for Robert Dover for 16 years and is now aiming to catch the eye of selectors for a place on the USA team for the Tokyo Olympics with Jane Forbes Clark’s Contango gelding. She said: “Yesterday, I don’t think I’ve ever been that hot before, and today I don’t think I’ve ever come out of a test still being cold. We had the most extreme differences. I’ve ridden in very cold weather, and I’ve ridden in very hot weather, but not usually in the same show. So for the horses, it was challenging.
“I’m really happy because two or three years ago, my horse used to have a real issue with anything that moved – he’s a little bit of a spook that way. He went in there and didn’t look at anything and won the class,” added Bateson-Chandler, who rode to a Tom Hunt compilation with a high degree of difficulty.
“Tonight was the first time that I’ve actually done my floorplan to my music correctly and not been behind or ahead. I do a double pirouette and then a one-and-a-half pirouette. In Olympia, I did a double and then a double, and then I was facing the wrong way, so I’ve had some issues with that.”
Bateson-Chandler travels to the UK to train with Carl Hester every summer, and with his help she continues to get the best out of 15-year-old ‘Lonsie’, who has been competing at international grand prix for half a decade and survived a colic operation in the summer of 2016 while in Germany. They are now unbeaten in their last four starts.
Losos and Matute in the Top Three
Second-placed Losos de Muñiz showcased Aquamarijn’s spectacular capacity for one-time changes, riding strings of them all around the arena. “I lost count!” she said. “I was ecstatic with the test.
“Having to ride in total heat yesterday, and then we got this weather today – just being able to learn to time the warm-up, not do too much but do enough is hard. There were a couple of moments there where I just sat quiet and she stayed with me, and it was amazing. But I was frozen at the last halt,” added Losos de Muñiz.
Always one to find the positive in any situation, Matute Guimon said of his ride on Don Diego: “We’re out here to have a good time, even on days like today. I had quite a challenging ride and from that first exercise, I already had an issue and my horse was not entirely focused on me. He was a bit too maybe uncomfortable in the arena with all of the external factors. It’s not an excuse. I could have ridden a bit more focused.”
The busy rider, who was due to fly out to Doha the following day to compete his other grand prix horse, Quantico at the CDI there added: “This is the year to try to do our best; we have big goals. I’d like to make it to the World Cup Final in Las Vegas and also go to Tokyo. After performances like today, I think I will have to look at the video and polish certain things.”
Judge at C Mike Osinski said: “I think congratulations go to all of these competitors. To deal with the adversity of the heat yesterday and the icy winds tonight is impressive. There were beautiful rides and it’s great for the sport.”
Third-placed Juan Matute Guimon (ESP) and Don Diego tallied 72.76% despite the challenging conditions. ©️Susan Stickle. Despite the AGDF being a well established show, there are possible plans afoot to continue its expansion after the popularity of the Thursday night classes, in addition to Friday under the lights.
Director of Sport Thomas Baur explained: “We will look into expanding some Thursday nights for the future. Maybe for the five-star week next year and maybe also for the Nations’ Cup. I’d love to do it, because it was really nice atmosphere here both last night and tonight.”
Harada Makes it a Double
It was only the previous day that Kiichi Harada recorded his first ever win outside his native Japan, topping the Grand Prix 3* but he wasted no time in following it up. Last to go in the Grand Prix Freestyle 3* under lights, he captured the top spot on his long-time ride Egistar — Hanuka Taguchi’s 17-year-old KWPN gelding by Cabochon.
Their 73.525% put them ahead of second-placed Kelly Layne (AUS) and her own Samhitas (72.625%) and Ashley Holzer (USA), who rode Diana Rose’s lightly-competed Blue Hors Romanov gelding Radondo into third with 72.605%.
“I am targeting a higher level, and the horse is also improving, so I am really happy,” beamed Harada, who has his own barn in Japan. “I have been riding Egistar for six years and we have been improving together so I am very proud of the horse. Everybody in Japan will be happy with this result, I hope. So much excitement!”
The Japanese team trainer Christoph Koschel, added: “I’m really proud of him. We are here with a big team and we are trying to get good scores and it is a perfect preparation [for the Olympics]. It’s a very intense time here where you have shows coming up every weekend, so you are focused the whole time on one goal together. That is really nice to have that team bonding.”
Parra Back in the CDI Ring
It was tight at the top in the Intermediate I CDI3* with Cesar Parra (USA) winning the tussle with Canadian rider Ariana Chia. Parra rode Karen Blank’s 12-year-old Mr Bumblebee (by Sting) to the pair’s first international victory with 69.608%, with two of the three judges awarding over 70%. Chia was just 0.29% behind, riding her own 10-year-old Fiderflame, by Fidertanz, to 69.314%. Swedish rider Ida Mattisson filled third place on Edison Van Twinwood (67.353%).
In the Prix St. Georges 1* the USA’s Günter Seidel was untouchable, breezing away with the win by more than 5%. Riding Beltano, Louise Leatherdale’s 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Bellissimo M, he recorded 73.922%. He was last to go in the 16-strong class and relinquished Katie Johnson (USA) and Quartett into second. Canada’s Diane Creech (Robbie W) finished third. This was Beltano’s second win of the 2020 GDF, having also led the same class in week five.
Text by Alice Collins, GDF Press releases
Photos © Sue Stickle and Astrid Appels