Wellington, FL - On the final day of competition at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) for the 2016 season, Ashley Holzer (CAN) and Breaking Dawn returned to CDI competition and clinched victory in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*, presented by Harmony Sporthorses to conclude an incredibly successful circuit.
Holzer and Breaking Dawn received a 75.600%, while Shelly Francis (USA) and Danilo finished in second place, earning a 74.825%. Fellow American Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar collected third with 70.050%.
Breaking Dawn and owner P.J. Rizvi have been competing in the international arena together this season, but when an opportunity arises to compete the 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Akribori x Eveline), Holzer does not turn it down. The pair, who competed together at the 2012 London Olympic Games, had a flawless effort in their freestyle routine, which will be Rizvi's new music for Breaking Dawn this season.
"It's a privilege to ride such a great horse. It was really fun. I'm a very lucky person. P.J. is a very dear friend of mine," said Holzer. "I think we have such a great community when riders trust another rider to compete their horse. I asked her if I could ride her new music just so I could see how the music works, and she said she didn't expect anything less. It's a nice feeling to go into the ring with so much support, but also that little bit of added pressure."
Holzer mentioned the performances of last night in the Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations' Cup CDIO 3* Grand Prix Freestyle competition, where two American riders, Laura Graves and Kasey Perry-Glass, earned scores above 80%.
"Last night, to watch the dressage and to see so many great rides, was just incredible, to see winners win not because other people made mistakes, but because they happened to be just that little bit better. Everybody laid down such a great performance last night, and it was amazing," continued Holzer. "It was special to see dressage come to that pinnacle in Florida, and it was just beautiful. It was a great finale for the season."
As for riding to a freestyle routine she herself has never ridden in competition, Holzer brushed it off like a veteran. As the trainer for Breaking Dawn's owner Rizvi, Holzer was a part of the entire selection process and felt that music suited the horse perfectly in the ring.
"We have practiced it at home with P.J. riding. I had the visual of P.J. riding through it and it was fun. I wasn't sure at the end though, if I was ahead of my music or behind it, which worked out great cause the music stopped right when I was at the end of the arena," she laughed.
Francis and Danilo have steadily moved up the ranks in Large Tour competition with their freestyle greatly improving throughout the duration of the season. Danilo, who is sensitive to noise, specifically the sound of bass, has become more comfortable in larger atmospheres, which Francis noted may mean a change of music choice coming soon.
"I think this was the first time that I rode with the music pretty well. I made a mistake in it myself, but nobody could actually tell because of where I was in the freestyle. I've realized that I'm changing the way I'm asking for things in the ring, like the piaffe, and I'm not doing it the same way that I do it at home," she explained. "I think I get a little panicky and tight and then I chase him, and he doesn't understand. He went better and better as the test went.
"I started off with the a cappella music because I was unsure of what his reaction would be to louder music. I think I may get in there and change it up a little bit now that he's better because it does get a little monotonous and sometimes I even forget where I'm going," smiled Francis. "We're going to see if we can jazz it up before Europe."
Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar travel to AGDF from their home base in Europe, where they train with British Olympic gold medalist Carl Hester during the year. Bateson-Chandler said she felt both the ups and downs of the sport during their time in the United States this season.
"I felt good about the routine. I was really on with my music and normally I'm a little off here and a little off there. I sort of by chance ended up doing my freestyle a lot more than I was planning on at the beginning of the season for different reasons, so now I feel like he's a good freestyle horse," she said. "It gives me a little bit of confidence with his temperament now."
"This show has been interesting for us. This was our highest Grand Prix yet, after coming off of our worst Grand Prix two weeks before that. You know, this sport is tough like that. It can really knock your confidence and you can have highs and lows, but I have to say the biggest thing this season that differentiates it is the camaraderie. Everybody really feels like they're really feeling for you whether it goes good or bad. I felt that more than ever before this season," she continued.
Holzer and Francis both chimed in as soon as Bateson-Chandler finished, agreeing that this season at AGDF has been a unifying circuit for dressage riders from around the world, nodding in unison as Bateson-Chandler continued.
"We have amazing relationships, and I think that speaks volumes to the direction of this sport," expressed Bateson-Chandler.
In an ode to the final class of the 2016 season, each rider commented on their appreciation and gratitude for the home dressage has found at AGDF and its ability to give riders and horses the experience they need to succeed at the top levels of the sport.
"This facility allows us to clock miles on incredible footing, without shipping our horses each week. It takes a lot of the stress out of competing and allows us to put the miles we need to put on them in a safe environment and ultimately be competitive in the world. I think it's a great facility, and we're very lucky," finished Holzer.
Today's competition concluded the 2016 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) circuit at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). For more information on AGDF and for information regarding the 2017 season, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.
Final Results FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*, presented by Harmony Sporthorses
1. Ashley Holzer (CAN), Breaking Dawn, 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Akribori x Eveline x L.Ronald owned by P.J. Rizvi: 77.750%, 78.000%, 71.750%, 74.875%, 75.625%, 75.600%
2. Shelly Francis (USA), Danilo, 2004 Hanoverian gelding by De Niro x Annabella x Andiamo owned by Patricia Stempel: 73.875%, 77.625%, 76.250%, 73.625%, 72.750%, 74.825%
3. Katherine Bateson Chandler (USA), Alcazar, 2005 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Contango x Polina x Ferro owned by Jane Forbes Clark: 73.250%, 73.750%, 72.500%, 71.375%, 69.375%, 70.050%
4. Arlene Page (USA), Alina, 1998 Danish Warmblood mare by Michellino x Alberte Lindebjerg x Diamant owned by Arlene Page: 70.250%, 75.750%, 70.375%, 69.250%, 71.500%, 71.425%
5. Beatrice Marienau (USA), Stefano 8, 1999 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Gribaldi x Gracia x Actueel owned by Beatrice Marienau: 71.250%, 72.375%, 69.125%, 69.875%, 73.625%, 71.250%
6. Juan Antonio Jimenez Cobo (ESP), Sunny Boy, 2004 Oldenburg gelding by Stedinger x Caronda x Unknown owned by Juan Antonion Jimenez Cobo: 67.375%, 72.875%, 73.125%, 70.375%, 71.500%, 71.050%
7. Ellesse Tzinberg (PHI), Pavarotti, 1997 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Ferro x Geante x Saros owned by Ellesse and Sennett Tzinberg: 68.750%,68.250%, 68.625%, 67.750%, 66.750%, 68.025%
8.Micaela Mabragana (ARG), Tyara, 2000 Dutch Warmblood mare by Farrington x Jolimba x Bazuin owned by Cesar Lopardo-Grana: 65.125%, 66.625%, 66.125%, 64.375%, 67.625%, 65.975%