Laura Graves’ brand new freestyle rocketed her and Verdades to the top of the list in the Grand Prix Freestyle 5* on Friday night 9 February 2018 in Wellington, Florida. The 30-year-old American scooped the $35,400 winner’s prize under the lights in week five of the Global Dressage Festival (GDF).
Laura Graves (USA) unleashes Verdades’ impressive flying changes down the center line en route to an emphatic CDI5* freestyle victory. In front of a packed grandstand and VIP pavilions, Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén was second, with local rider Shelly Francis climbing a place from the grand prix to finish third.
Graves said: “It was the first run-through of the new canter tour of our freestyle. Even though we’re not using the new FEI floorplan creator here tonight, it’s a big part of my preparation for the World Cup Final in Paris as it will be used in the final. We’ve actually taken away a bit of risk as the changes aren’t off a curved line, because you actually don’t gain as many points as you do for doubling up on the pirouettes, so it ended up being a little bit of a math equation."
"Big thanks to Terry Gallo who always steps in when I have a last minute ‘great’ idea. I couldn’t do it without her and I was super pleased with how the music turned out. We have a couple of little tweaks to work on before our next performance at Global,” she added.
“For once all the judges were in agreement,” said Enzo Truppa, the Italian judge at C. “I was particularly impressed by Laura’s half-passes, and she got very high marks from me.”
Graves and 16-year-old Verdades, who are ranked fourth in the world, scored 84.375%. That was just 0.3% lower than their winning score at the CDIW* GDF show two weeks ago — quite a feat for a brand new freestyle that they had barely practiced.
“I had only actually ridden through it once at home, and that was for Terry to get the timing, so I need to do my homework a little better,” she admitted.
Second-placed Vilhelmson-Silfvén said of her ride, Lövsta Stuteri’s 15-year-old Don Primero gelding: “There was quite an atmosphere tonight; it suits him very well to have that kind of surroundings, so he felt the best today that I’ve had him this season. I’m very happy.”
Francis’ horse Doktor, Patricia Stempel’s 15-year-old by Diamond Hit, was also lit up by the busy atmosphere: “He was sneezing and snorting when he realized he was doing the freestyle. Things smoothed out, but during a piaffe at one end, the audience started clapping, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, please don’t clap; he’s frightened of clapping!’ But we managed to keep it together. He was so full of energy, really bouncing off the ground.”
In the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3* Dominican Republic rider Yvonne Losos de Muñiz proved that her grand prix win on Foco Loco W was no fluke. On her own 13-year-old Belgian warmblood gelding by Sierappel, she won the class with 74.35% — including a high score of 77% from the U.S. judge, Janet Foy.
Proving their previous win was no fluke, Yvonne Losos de Muñiz (DOM) and Foco Loco W top the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3* with 74.35%. “To be honest, I’m a bit speechless still. I’m still trying to soak it all in. It’s been going so incredibly,” she said. “Two weeks ago I did well with him, and to come back and repeat it and get a little better is just fantastic. I really have no words.”
Losos de Muñiz rode to music put together by Canadian Karen Robinson.
“Tonight I was able, especially in the trot, to really hit the cues. I came in and sat back and he came up in front of me, and I said, ‘OK, here we go’. He floated around and felt fabulous. The music is really strong, but he is such a big horse that he can carry the music no problem.”
Spain’s young talent Juan Matute Guimon finished second on Don Diego Ymas (73.4%), with Canada’s Megan Lane filling third on San D’Or with 71.85%.
Of the 18 starters in the Prix St Georges CDI1*, it was Great Britain’s Susan Pape and the expressive and uphill Eclectisch who nosed ahead with 71.029%. Each of the five judges awarded the pair over 70%. The nine-year-old KWPN stallion by Zenon have taken their small tour classes by storm this season, winning all three of his tests so far at AGDF.
Text by Alice Collins (GDF press release, edited by ED) - Photos © Sue Stickle - Astrid Appels