Photo Report: Haddad's Sola Diva Wins Developing PSG Horse Class at 2024 CDIO Wellington

Tue, 02/27/2024 - 12:37
2024 CDIO Wellington
Catherine Haddad and Sola Diva at the 2024 CDIO Wellington :: Photo © Astrid Appels

After a rocky start to their relationship, Catherine Haddad and NorCordia USA’s nine-year-old Sola Diva emerged victorious from the 11 starters in the national level "Future Challenge" class for Developing Prix St. Georges Horses held on Sunday 25 February 2024. 

By scoring a winning 70.294% they picked up a coveted ticket to the final in GDF 12, which is for developing horses aged seven to nine.

Second-placed Jill Irving (CAN) and Knight, a nine-year-old KWPN gelding by Blue Hors Zack, scored 68.676% to claim the second qualifying spot. 

A Shaky Start

Haddad imported Sola Diva (by Sarotti Mocca Sahne x De Niro) a couple of years ago, but the Hanoverian mare, who is bred by Susanne Redderberg, was not enamored with Florida. 

“She had a rough entry into the USA,” explained Haddad, who is based between Florida and New Jersey. “Some horses don’t take to the Florida environment so well, she had skin issues, didn’t want to eat much, and we had to do a lot of things to get her happy and comfortable. So we really took our time with everything including the riding and training. I actually had to go into her stall and speak German to her because you could see that the horse was homesick."

“It took us a lot of time to come together but I feel like we’re a real partnership now. She has a lot of expression and I maybe tapped 60% of that today. She’s an extremely beautiful horse inside and out, and I’m a sucker for a beautiful horse. She’s a horse I’m preparing for the grand prix; she’s got beautiful gaits so it looks nice in the Prix St. Georges, but her collection is really remarkable. That mare glides — she has a hyper elastic body. She can cross her legs like a spider. Today I had the hind legs pushing up toward the bit so I could ride her in a higher, more upward frame.” 

Without Pressure

Haddad and Sola Diva
Haddad is appreciative of the chance to expose upcoming international horses to the championship-type environment that GDF’s main arena offers.   

“It’s such an incredibly great opportunity to ride in this division because with a top horse like this you can get her in this arena without pressure,” said Haddad, who has recently switched nationalities to ride for her father’s native Lebanon after carrying the US flag for two decades. “I can show her around and give her some experience so that when I ride her next year on the international tour, I’ll know what to expect. I love this young horse tour.”

-- Text GDF press release by Alice Collins 

Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED / NO SCREEN SHOTS for social media

If interested in photos, please send me an email. Florida rates apply for this horse show as our colleague Sue Stickle is the official photographer

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