American Grand Prix rider Anna Buffini has made her long awaited show debut aboard Fiontini, the mare she bought as a 2022 WEG hopeful but who ended up staying home for two years.
At the 2024 CDI Del Mar in California, the pair finally went down the centerline for the very first time, straight away at international level in the Grand Prix for Special on Friday 2 February 2024. They received dispensation from competing in a national show first (as is usual in Europe) based on Anna's ability to show other horses above the threshold (USEF rule says: Athlete must have achieved an overall average of 64% or higher in a national level Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special or consecutive level at two different national competitions from two different judges, within the 3 competition years preceding the CDI competition)
The test was a confidence giving ride with plenty of pretty things: very powerful, bouyant trot extensions, a ground covering extended walk, good potential in the pirouettes and engaged passage work. In the trot half passes the mare was quite passagey, the collected walk slightly peacocky, and in piaffe she leans a bit on the forehand while keeping the croup high, but Buffini steered her more than adequately through the test. The one tempi changes were straighter than the twos. It was a solid first round that needs a bit more polish. The excess white sugar round the horse's lips was unnecessary.
Judges Kristi Wysocki, Carlos Lopes, Peter Storr, Magnus Ringmark, and Cesar Torrente rewarded her ride with a a 72.000% which placed her second. The low score was 69.783%, Ringmark's high score of 76.304% was a bit too optimistic. The pair finished second behind U.S. team routiniers Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper (75.522%)
Triple Young Horse World Champion
Fiontini is a 14-year old Danish warmblood mare by Fassbinder x Romanov. She is bred by Hanne Lund and Henrik Hansen.
Under Spanish Severo Jurado Lopez she won gold at the 2015, 2016 and 2017 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses. In 2016 Swedish Beata Soderberg bought her and in March 2018 she sold her back to Andreas Helgstrand and investor Martin Julius Klejs Jensen of Stutteri EVO.
Jurado never showed her at small tour level but went straight into the national Grand Prix in 2019. The mare went lame in the spring of 2019 and missed out on team selection for the European Championships in Rotterdam. They successfully returned to the arena in October 2019. They were short listed for Spanish Olympic team selection, but in April 2020 Jurado left Helgstrand.
Helgstrand tried to make it onto the Danish team for the Tokyo Olympics. In 2021 the new pair scored between 71 and 72% at the CDI Hagen and Compiegne but team trainer Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein did not pick them for Olympic team selection. Zu Sayn's team trainer contract did not get renewed by the Danish equestrian federation after Tokyo.
Helgstrand sent Fiontini to Kittel to be sold. The Swede competed her in the summer of 2021 in Donaueschingen, Grote Brogel and Aachen before selling her to Anna Buffini, who had also bought Wilton through Kittel six years earlier.
Herning Hopeful becomes Paris Potential
Buffini acquired the experienced mare in October 2021 as a U.S. team potential for the 2022 World Championships in Herning.
The pair was supposed to debut at the 2022 Global Dressage Festival in Wellington and was entered on the masterlist of the CDI Palm Beach Derby, but did not show up. Buffini went into total black out about the health, whereabouts, and training of the mare. No footage of her was published on social media in the past two years.
In February 2023 Buffini explained to Eurodressage that, "I pretty much decided when I got her that people would see her when she shows and when she’s at home she gets to live in privacy." Buffini never confirmed that fitness issues were the reason for their two-year absence from showing. "People always talk no matter what happens," said the level-headed Anna.
In Del Mar, Anna and Fio broke their silence and put themselves in the race for a U.S. Olympic team spot.
Photos © Terri Miller - Astrid Appels
Fiontini Sold to American Anna Buffini