Wellington, FL - The field for World Dressage Masters (WDM) CDI5* Palm Beach is almost set, and it is full of top dressage riders from around the globe. Thursday's Wellington Classic Dressage Sunshine Challenge Grand Prix CDI3* represents the last opportunity to join the field: 13 horses will vie for the remaining two spots. But after today's jog for the CDI3*, one of those 13 may have already lost his chance.
Hopeful competitors presented the horses slated to contest the CDI3* for the jog this afternoon at Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach, the hosting venue for both the CDI3* and WDM. The panel, which included the FEI veterinarian, the president of the ground jury, and the foreign judge, determined that 14 of the horses were fit and ready to compete but chose to take another look at Van The Man, Dr. Cesar Parra's mount. After Parra jogged Van The Man twice for the panel, the judges asked that Parra present the horse again at 10:55 a.m. on Thursday.
The competition begins at 2 p.m. If Van The Man competes in the CDI3*, he could be a viable contender. Of the five horses in the CDI3* field that came out to contest the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at the Gold Coast Opener CDI-W Jan. 18-20, Van The Man was consistently the highest-placed. He and Parra won the Grand Prix Special on Sunday with 67.667% and placed seventh in Friday's Grand Prix with 66.128%, finishing behind six horses that will compete in WDM.
Canadian David Marcus and Don Kontes finished just behind Parra in both classes, taking second in the Special and eighth in the Grand Prix. Marcus already has a place in WDM with Chrevi's Capital. If he qualifies with Don Kontes, he can compete both horses in the Grand Prix but is limited to one ride in the Grand Prix Freestyle and one ride in the Grand Prix Special.
Among the favorites to advance to WDM is Lisa Wilcox, who will ride Pikko Del Cerro HU. The 10-year-old stallion was bred in the United States by Anne Sparks. The pair won the 2011 USEF Developing Horse National Championship and the 2012 USEF Developing Grand Prix Horse National Championship, which led to their selection as the recipients of the Anne L. Barlow Ramsay Annual $25,000 Grant. The grant allowed them to travel to Germany to work with trainer Ernst Hoyos, who presented the horse at today's jog.
Another top contestant, Todd Flettrich, is giving himself two chances at a WDM slot. He will ride Danseur and Sopranos, both owned by Cherry Hill Farm, in the CDI3*. Danseur made his Grand Prix debut at two national shows in Germany a year ago, but has been sidelined since then with an injury. Flettrich and Sopranos competed at last year's Gold Coast Opener CDI-W, taking second in the Grand Prix.
Other pairs to watch include Catherine Haddad Staller and Hotmail 2, Mikala Gundersen and My Lady, and Shelly Francis and Doktor. Two sons of De Niro are entered: Hanoverians De Value, ridden by Bernd Schopf, and Finally, ridden by Mette Rosencrantz. Cheryl Meisner will lead off the competition with Paganini, who was spirited in the jog but settled down nicely while schooling afterward. Like Flettrich, Meisner has two horses entered: she will ride Tango, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding, later in the class. Canada's William Lee Tubman and Delight and The Netherland's Marjo Van de Bunte and Valenzo round out the field, which will be finalized after Van The Man's assessment Thursday morning.
Tickets are still available to see the spectacular line-up in store for the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach January 24-26, 2013.
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