Kevin Kohmann Earns Third U.S. Ticket to World Cup Final at 2024 Palm Beach Derby

Sat, 03/02/2024 - 09:36
2024 Palm Beach Derby
Kevin Kohmann and Dünensee at the 2024 Palm Beach Dressage Derby  :: Photo © Sue Stickle

Kevin Kohmann (USA) rode to the top of the leaderboard in Friday night’s Piaffe Lounge FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle during Week 8 and with it booked his place in the World Cup™ Final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in April. 

The 35-year-old Kohmann, who is enjoying a sterling season with Dünensee, captured the winner’s blanket with 75.07%. Riders in the final block of horses had to contend with heavy rain, but both Susan Dutta (USA) and Ellen McCarthy (GBR) fought their way onto the podium despite the downpour. Dutta rode her and her husband Tim’s 14-year-old Der Designer gelding Don Design DC to 72.8%. McCarthy slotted into third with the youngest horse in the class, her family’s 10-year-old Bordeaux gelding Brave Heart, who posted 71.855%.  

Ticket to Riyadh

There are three starting spots allocated at the FEI World Cup™ Final to the North American League, and Anna Marek and Ben Ebeling have already bagged two of them. Kohmann now joins that illustrious list and will head to his first World Cup™ Final with his mother-in-law Terri Kane of Diamante Farms’ 15-year-old gelding by Dancier, who has been a boomerang horse in his career. 

“Tonight’s test started off really well with my halt, but then the next movement screwed me and I said to myself ‘Kevin, just ride safe!’ I got a little ahead of the music, but my horse was 100% with me,” said Kohmann. “He really helped me out, so thank you Düne.” 

The freestyle music is Avicii — Kohmann’s favorite DJ — and includes ‘Wake Me Up’ by Hinterland. He will tweak the floorplan to increase the degree of difficulty in preparation for the Final.

“I put the pressure on me tonight, but it all worked out,” said Kohmann, whose groom German Rodriguez was the recipient of the sponsored grooms prize of $500. “I can’t believe it. If you had told me this would happen a year ago, I would have said that you’re crazy. It’s a shock to me. I am thrilled and I love this horse.”

Kohmann rode Dünensee as a five-year-old sales horse, and when he returned to the barn almost a decade later, his trainer Cristoph Koschel and his wife Devon Kane persuaded Kohmann that this was the horse for him. He is undecided whether Dünensee will contest another show before the final, but he will now enjoy a well deserved rest. 

Dutta Runner-Up

Susan Dutta and Don Design
Susan Dutta was the only rider challenging Kohmann for the World Cup slot. Before going into the Kur to Music Kohmann was ranking third on the FEI North American League World Cup ranking with 54 points, with Dutta following on 30 points. Canadian Tanya Strasser was in fact Kohmann's biggest rival, standing at 42 points, but her current provisional suspension ruled her out from competing. The winner of the freestyle would get 20 points to his tally, the second placed rider gets 17 points added to his tally.

Dutta, who was riding in her third Friday Night Stars, said, “I had to warm up in the pouring rain and my horse got a bit tense with that. He also doesn’t like going last because all his friends leave [the warm-up], so that brought a bit of tension too. And then when I went into the arena he was a bit surprised by the camera on the side, so I had to deal with that. So it started off a bit tense, but he was honest and I’m proud of him. A year ago I couldn’t have done this with him.”

Dutta has recently started training with Jürgen Hoffmann, and they have been focussing on the basics. “It’s a new partnership and I’m very happy with it,” she said. “I’m having a really good time and it’s all about the classical basics; to ride my corners and to have everything really correct and a nicer looking contact and bring my lessons into the arena.”  

McCarthy Used to the Rain

McCarthy and Brave Heart braving the rain
On the same day that Ellie McCarthy’s trainer Charlotte Dujardin was on winning form at CDI Lier in Belgium,  the 27-year-old British rider recorded her first podium finish in her first season competing in Wellington. McCarthy was riding Brave Heart, who is only 16hh, to a brand new freestyle with music from the film Kung Fu Panda which she had made specifically for this show. 

“I’m really happy,” she enthused. “It wasn’t my best freestyle score with him but he’s still really green and he’s never seen anything like this. I’ve only had him for two years — he was the first horse I tried at Henri Ruoste’s place in Germany — and before I had him he didn’t do a lot of competing, so he still has to take everything from training and put it in the arena. I fell in love with him straight away and he’s so fun to ride. We had a couple of little wobbles, but he was totally with me.” 

McCarthy is relishing her debut season at GDF, and hopes to return with a string of horses next year. “I visited last year and knew I wanted to come and do this one day, so I sold a horse to be able to come here. Hopefully I’ll come back next year with more horses,” she concluded.  McCarthy has been staying at Katherine Bateson's farm, whom she knows through the Carl Hester/Dujardin training connection.

-- Text by Alice Collins for GDF - Photos © Sue Stickle

Eurodressage Coverage of the 2024 World Cup Finals

Related Links
Scores: 2024 Palm Beach Dressage Derby
Jemma Heran Draws Attention of Australian Selectors with First CDI Win at 2024 Palm Beach Derby
Photo Report: Kicking into Gear for the 2024 Palm Beach Derby - Bohemian's U.S Coming Out
Kohmann on Brink of Grabbing World Cup Ticket at 2024 Palm Beach Derby