Cesar Parra and Van the Man kept the American winning streak alive during the Wellington Nations Cup CDIO/CDI 3* of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), held at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Parra and Van the Man won the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO 3* with a spectacular score of 74.375%. Parra was also a member of Team USA 2, which placed second in Friday's Nations Cup competition. As the AGDF draws to a close with tomorrow's final day of competition, Allyn Mann of Adequan thanked riders for their support of the competition. "This is my first real exposure to a much broader dressage world. I was so impressed with not only the skill level of the riders and their animals, but with the friendliness amongst the entire dressage community and how wonderful they are as individuals and as a group of people," Mann commented.
"I believe that for the first year of our title sponsorship, it has exceeded our expectations tremendously," Mann continued. "We're really looking forward to the future. Thank you [riders] for your commitment. I remember what Mark [Bellissimo, of Equestrian Sport Productions] said: 'Build it and they will come,' and I really think that's what's going to happen. We're really honored to be a part of it and excited to be on this journey." Tuny Page of Stillpoint Farm also expressed her delight with how the competition has contributed to the sport of dressage. "I think one of the crucial things is that this particular competition involves the mixed teams where the small tour horses have this opportunity to expose their horses to this kind of situation-lights and atmosphere and a patrons' tent. I think that's really important in the development of international sport," she said. "To have this whole season build to this [week of] competition is fantastic," Page continued. "I hope that people in the world of dressage are paying attention to what's happening here because it's fantastic and will continue to improve."
Parra was just as thankful to be able to compete at a world-class event supported by pillars of the dressage community. "Thank you so much [to Tuny Page]. She's not only a great rider who has wonderful horses, but she's always trying to help. Honestly, as long as I've seen, it's always without any other intention than to help the sport. So I want to say thank you so much," Parra expressed. "It means a lot to all of us to have this place," he added. "I hope we can continue to enjoy it because it's really a pleasure to come and ride here. It's amazing the effort that they did. We really appreciate it and we are so grateful." Parra was also overflowing with gratitude for his stellar ride with Van the Man. "He was right on it from the very first step. He's been, as most of my colleagues know, a clown to say the least. He has humbled me more than a couple of times, so I just keep on working and today he said, 'Okay, I'll do it.' It was amazing from that first step," Parra described. "It's very exciting to do the best you can and have it work out. I'm just so happy that I cannot describe it. I'm really, really grateful," Parra continued. As Parra looks towards the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, he has prioritized building on the momentum he has built with Van the Man during this week's competition. "My goal is to really make him my partner. I believe in him. I think he's a world-class horse. It's just a matter of getting him to trust me, to follow me, to believe, to become," Parra explained.
Fellow Americans Shelly Francis and Susan Dutta rounded out the top three for the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle class. Francis and Doktor were second with a 72.575%. Dutta and Currency DC earned a 71.225% for third place. Judges for the class were: Evi Eisenhardt at E, Maribel Alonso at H, Anne Gribbons at C, Linda Zang at M, and Joan Macartney at B. Francis and Doktor have also been gaining plenty of momentum this season, which is Doktor's first competing at the Grand Prix level. "Doktor's coming along. He's getting a little better each time. He's getting more confident and I've just been trying to keep him calm and steady and it's working so far," Francis described humbly. Francis was again pleased with how her green horse performed under pressure. "I had a few little bobbles. He made some little mistakes with his changes because he got a little bit hot and a little bit nervous," Francis acknowledged. "It was good, though. I was very happy with him. He's very green and he gets a little smoother and a little better each time. This is his last show for the season and I think he's finishing it up very well," Francis concluded. Francis also has her eye on Normandy and is comfortable knowing she will have two capable mounts to try to qualify on. Francis will continue to develop Doktor in addition to bringing up her current Prix St. Georges horse, Danilo, to Grand Prix over the next year as she works towards the WEG.