Kohmann Wins Emotional Grand Prix Special Individual Gold at 2024 CDIO Wellington

Sun, 02/25/2024 - 10:20
2024 CDIO Wellington
Kevin Kohmann and Dünensee at the 2024 CDIO Wellington :: Photo © Astrid Appels

-- GDF press release by Alice Collins, edited by Eurodressage

The second and final set of individual medals was awarded in the FEI Nations Cup CDIO3* Grand Prix Special on Saturday of week 7 at the Global Dressage Festival (GDF) in Wellington, Florida.

German One-Two

The on-form German born American rider Kevin Kohmann was overcome with emotion to stand atop the podium bedecked with the gold medal on an idyllic, warm and sunny afternoon on 24 February 2024. 

German Michael Klimke rode Uwe Kappel’s 12-year-old Domino 957 (by Den Haag) to 67.766% and the silver medal. At just 20 years old, Erin Nichols earned bronze riding Premiere Sport Horses’ 15-year-old Glock’s Johnson gelding Elian Royale to 67.128%.

“It was super standing up there — I’m speechless right now,” said Kohmann, who switched nationalities from his native Germany three years ago. “This is my second time riding a Nations Cup for the US and I had tears during the anthem.

“I am so thrilled to have won even though today wasn’t really the test that I wanted it to be,” he added of the small mistakes that crept into their performance. “He had a bit more go, so we’re going to change the strategy for our next warm-ups, for day number two especially. It seems that the horse has so much energy, which is great, but it was too much today for me to manage through the test, so we missed the suppleness and looseness that we normally have.”

Sales Horse Turned Career Maker

The 15-year-old Dünensee’s story with Kohmann began a decade ago when his now wife Devon Kane bought the horse for herself as a five-year-old. 

Kohmann waves to the crowds
“He kept growing and growing, then I ended up with him because I’m a tall, strong guy,” explained the 35-year-old rider. “Then he went to a bunch of other tall, strong guys — and then almost 10 years later he was back with me. I still have the first sales video I made with him, he was already doing his tempi changes.”

Dünensee was sent to Christoph Koschel to be sold, but ended up back with Kohmann in Florida. When he picked up the son of Dancier’s reins again in early 2023, he wasn’t convinced that he could adequately show Dünensee, but he was persuaded by his wife and trainer Koschel.

“A year ago, I didn’t believe that I could show the horse; I couldn’t ride one clean line of changes at home, but Devon and Christoph told me, ‘Yes you can, just do it.’ We went out there and they were right, it was good enough. From that moment on, we started trusting each other. Now I walk into the barn and his ears are straight forward, it’s so nice. He’s the sweetest horse on the planet.

“I didn’t think we could even ride a test, and now we’ve done Nations Cups and will probably do the World Cup this year; I don’t know what the limit is. This horse is going to stay in the family forever now, he’s earned his spot,” added Kohmann, who plans to compete the horse in next week’s FEI World Cup™ qualifier. 

Personal Best Festival

Personal bests were the order of the day in the Grand Prix Special  3*  which featured an all-female podium line-up. Winner Susan Pape (GBR) added to her stellar results this season with her own and Harmony Sporthorses’ 10-year-old stallion V-Plus (by Vivaldi x Furst Romancier) by taking the spoils with 72.936%. 

Ariana Chia (CAN) and the 14-year-old Guateque IV scored 70.298%, eclipsing their previous best by almost 3 percentage points. This is her first season riding Coves Darden Farm’s home-bred PRE stallion by Layco. Fellow Canadian Jill Irving rode her own 14-year-old Hanoverian Delacroix (by Dancier), into third with 69.809%.

Susan Pape on V-Plus
Pape’s score marked a new high score for V-Plus in this test, and they remain unbeaten in GDF 7 — which is just the fourth CDI for the horse at big tour level. 

“It felt absolutely amazing today,” enthused Pape. “We had a ‘nice’ grand prix, but I thought seeing as he’s listening so well in the arena, today I gave it a bit more energy to see how responsive he was, and he was absolutely marvelous. He’s very concentrated in the ring and that’s something very nice to have upfront.”

Pape attributed her success to the extensive team behind her, saying, “I have incredible support, not only from my family but from all my trainers — my husband Ingo, Michael Klimke and Gareth Hughes — as well as my groom Antonia. It really is a team effort to get here. 

“And the opportunity to be in Florida helps V-Plus a lot too because at home it’s drizzly and cold and you’re in the indoor all the time. Here you have sun and open space, and that helps a lot,” she added of the horse she has been riding since he was bought by her sponsors Leslie and John Malone of Harmony Sporthorses for €1.2million at the PSI Auction in December 2018. 

Pape will compete her other Harmony horse, Eclectisch, at next weekend’s Palm Beach Derby week, before both horses return to Germany a few days later. 

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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