Hendricks Claims Individual Kur Nations Cup Gold Medal at 2024 CDIO Wellington

Sat, 02/24/2024 - 08:37
2024 CDIO Wellington
Felicitas Hendricks and Drombusch at the 2024 CDIO Wellington :: Photo © Sue Stickle

--- GDF press release by Alice Collins, Photos © Sue Stickle

Germany’s 23-year-old prodigy Felicitas Hendricks extended her unbeaten run of tests on Drombusch OLD to six when she claimed the individual gold medal in the FEI Nations Cup CDIO3* Grand Prix Freestyle.

Sweden’s seven-time Olympic legend Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén claimed silver on Devanto, with Frederic Wandres (GER) picking up the bronze riding Total Recall.

The reworked Nations Cup is the centerpiece of week seven of the 2024 Global Dressage Festival.

Highest Freestyle Score

Under the floodlights of the atmospheric ‘Friday Night Stars’ evening session, Hendricks and Drombusch’s routine to lively, upbeat disco music garnered them 79.1%. It is their highest senior Grand Prix Freestyle score. As Hendricks brought the 13-year-old Destano gelding in to land on the final centerline, the knowledgeable and vocal audience clapped along, adding even more spring to Drombusch’s final piaffe.  

“This still feels unreal — I’m definitely not getting used to it,” said Hendricks, who trains with her uncle Cristoph Koschel. “I’m very grateful to have a horse that wants to do it every single time and he never disappoints. He’s always ready to go and today was one of the best feelings I’ve had in the ring so far. He was super fresh — which I think you could see in the extended canter, but I couldn’t help smiling about it because I want him to be fresh and happy.

“We wanted fun party music for Drombusch, so I chose music my mum used to dance to in the club. Every time I listen to it I fall in love with it even more. He’s not just my show partner, he’s also my best friend in daily life,” added Hendricks, whose groom Lauren McNabb was once again the recipient of the Massa Horses-sponsored $500 Grooms Award.

A Decade in Wellington

Tinne Vilhelmson on Devanto
Despite having competed at GDF every year for over a decade, Vilhelmson Silfvén was still impressed by the atmosphere on Friday night. She rode Lovsta Stuteri’s 15-year-old De Chirico gelding Devanto to 77.415%.

“What an atmosphere tonight!” said Vilhelmson Silfvén, who rode to her well known ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ freestyle, with an adapted floorplan. “It was electric and Devanto felt that too. He was eager to go when he got in, I had to manage to control everything, but I got a super feeling from that, so it was fun to ride. The Friday nights are a super opportunity to ride in a championship atmosphere. It’s such good practice and amazing to ride here on Friday nights — even though it’s not always easy.”

Catch Ride

Frederic Wandres on Total Recall
From last draw Wandres used his experience to guide the 12-year-old Total Recall — the youngest horse in the class — to 77.08%, and the bronze medal. The gelding by Totilas is owned by Australian Jemma Heran, and Wandres borrowed the horse just to compete in the Nations Cup. Judge at C, Mike Osinski, awarded the pair their high score of 81.175%. 

Wandres said, “I had fun! I wasn’t fighting for a team place or anything so, there was no pressure on this ride, and I think the horse had fun too. I think the horse has a lot of talent for the collected work, the piaffe/passage so he can show even better than he did tonight, but it was his first time.” 

He rode to a freestyle soundtrack that he has previously used for his top horses Bluetooth and Duke of Britain. The floorplan carries the maximum degree of difficulty of 10.

Arlène ‘Tuny’ Page of Stillpoint Farm has been a long-time sponsor of the Nations Cup at AGDF. She said, “This is a fabulous event and everyone in town supports it. I feel lucky that early on we were able to identify the Nations Cup as the event that we wanted to choose. I’m all about team sports and it feels more like a team than any other competition, so that’s special.”

A remarkable comeback

Yvonne Losos de Muniz on Aquamarijn
Only four combinations contested the CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Buffalo Wild Wings, but first-to-go Yvonne Losos De Muñiz put down an unassailable marker of 75.235% to ensure it was the Dominican Republic’s anthem that rang out in the prize-giving. The result marked the culmination of a remarkable comeback for the now 19-year-old Aquamarijn. The mare by United tore a muscle in her hindleg backing off a trailer in the summer of 2022 and Losos De Muñiz rehabbed her with gymnastic exercises in the field. The therapies were so effective that she decided to bring her back to the competition ring.

Monica Burssens (MEX) on Elfentanz and Micaela Mabragaña (ARG) on Bradley Cooper both scored 70.21%, but Burssens’ higher artistic score gave her second place, handing third to Mabragaña. 

“I’ve never had a ride like that with her,” said an emotional Losos De Muñiz, who has been competing Aquamarijn at grand prix level for eight years. “I got her through the grand prix but she was dragging me around and wouldn’t listen. Every time I go in there, I don’t know what I’m going to have — I’ve never had the same ride twice. Tonight she said, ‘Yes ma’am, how much do you want and how high do you want it?’ She was amazing.”

Of Aquamarijn’s recovery, Losos De Muñiz added, “We were just trying to get her well enough to retire her, so we were playing with all these gymnastic things, like poles to teach her to use the other muscles, so we restructured the muscles. She liked it so much that we decided to keep going with her, and she sometimes moves better now than she did before. To be here compared to where we were a year ago, it’s totally unfathomable. She’s 19 going on five; she’s got more energy and life and character to her now than she ever did.”

The pair look set to represent the Dominican Republic at the Paris Olympics this summer, and will fly to Europe in April to prepare. It will likely be the mare’s swan song. 

- Text © Eurodressage - 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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