Wellington, FL - The inaugural event of the 2012 Global Dressage Festival (GDF) was a great success featuring the $50,000 Wellington Dressage CDI-W, presented by Magnolia Farm, and National Show, which took place February 2-5.
The GDF continues with the Florida Dressage Classic CDI-W and National Show, presented by the United States PRE Association, February 16-19 at the newly constructed venue that extends the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) show grounds.
Opening day of the Wellington Dressage CDI-W and National Show featured nine levels of national competition on Thursday. All of the particpants seemed pleased with the venue, especially local resident Laurie Moore, who had the honor of riding as the first competitor in the show. Moore was pleased with the distinction and her performance on her horse Rolero. As she exited the arena Moore beamed with excitement and exclaimed, “It’s fabulous! The facility has the ambiance of a very significant event with all of the international flags flying over the arena. I felt so important!”
On Friday, the international riders were showcased, with seven countries represented in the FEI Grand Prix and the FEI Prix St. Georges classes. The panel of judges for the CDI-W were Leif Torblad (DEN), Gustaf Svalling (SWE), Stephen Clarke (GBR), Gary Rockwell(USA) and Janet Foy(USA).
Mica Mabragana of Argentina was the first to take top honors winning the FEI Prix St. Georges on Cuatrero IV, owned by Hampton Green Farm, with a score of 64.526%.
The FEI Grand Prix was won by Ashley Holzer and Pop Art with a personal best score of 73.596%. Holzer was pleased with their test. “Pop Art is like a young horse again,” said Holzer. “The footing and the venue is great. I think it’s wonderful what Mark Bellissimo has done here. For dressage to grow, we need a facility like this. They have done a great job in a short amount of time.”
Shawna Harding was second out of the fifteen entries in the Grand Prix, riding Come On III, and scoring 68.596%. “My horse is getting stronger,” said Harding. “We had three unfortunate mistakes, a bobble in the one tempis, but I know we can improve on that. The passage and his confidence are getting better. The new venue overwhelmed him a bit because it is enclosed by the large row of bleachers, but he has to get used to it.”
On Saturday in the Wellington Dressage CDI-W, presented by Magnolia Farm, James Koford, of Wellington, FL, was all smiles as he won the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle. Riding Pharaoh, owned by Hannah Holland Shook, Koford won the featured event on Saturday with a score of 73.300%. Shawna Harding was second with Come On III scoring 70.575%. Koford’s winning attitude did not go unnoticed by Janet Foy, who served as president of the ground jury for the freestyle.
“What I really so enjoyed was Jim’s smile during the pirouettes and the piaffe/passage parts of the test,” said Foy. “You can tell he enjoys this horse and was really nice to see.”
The test was also nice for Holland Shook to see. The 20-year-old was Koford’s groom on Saturday, but shortly before coming to Florida she had a successful outing on Pharaoh at the Intermediare I level.
“She’s a super rider and she will ride him again when he has a bit more confidence at the Grand Prix Level,” said Koford of his student. “This is all good for Pharaoh. I want to prepare him for Hannah to ride in the Grand Prix classes for riders under 25-years-old. It’s nice to be doing so well with him.”
Harding did not have the test that she was hoping for in the Freestyle. “We had a flying change disaster this weekend, but now we know where his strengths and weaknesses are,” said Harding of Come On III. “I’m looking forward to working next week with Steffen Peters and Anne Gribbons to make him a bit sharper, more serious in the ring. He’s a special horse with a huge heart, so I can’t fault him.”
Mica Mabragana and Cuatrero IV won again at the GDF, this time in the FEI Intermediare I class with a score of 64.474%. Mabragana was pleased with the performance of her horse, “The trot had a bit more power today and I was pleased with his pirouettes.” Mabragana is from Argentina, but is currently based in the United States. She trained as a working student with Lendon Gray before working for Hampton Green Farm.
Ashley Holzer won the FEI Olympic Grand Prix Special on Sunday, the final day of the GDF inaugural event. Holzer and Pop Art scored an impressive 71.867% in spite of Holzer’s mistake. “My horse was great, his jockey today was not stellar,” said Holzer. “Because this Olympic Special is a bit different from the Grand Prix Special I normally do, I had a moment of confusion on the centerline after the first pirouette, and made a mistake on the one tempis. I am happy with my horse though, he feels like a young horse again.”
Koford finished second on Rhett with a score of 68.133%. Dong Seon Kim of Korea was third on Bukowski scoring 66.089%.
Maria Florencia Manfredi of Argentina took top honors in the FEI Intermediare Freestyle on her Argentine-bred palomino LM Chey-Chey with a score of 66.175.
In the national show, Dorie Addy-Crow of Lancaster, PA, rode all three horses owned by Pam Liddell to blue ribbon winning performances on Sunday. Zaphire scored a 68.571% in Fourth Level Test 1, Rachael won the Third Level Test 1 scoring 63.092%, and Usher won the Prix St George with 67.368%.
“I think the footing and the barns are awesome,” said Addy-Crow. “The horses all did great and the ring has such a large atmosphere. We’ll be back.”
For more information, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com and click the link for dressage show information on the main homepage.