West Palm Beach – Ashley Holzer and Pop Art rode away with the blue ribbon in the FEI Grand Prix Open competition on the second day of the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge II, being held at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. They earned their win with a score of 73.759 percent, which ended up being the highest score of the day. The second-highest score was a 72.973 earned by Tami Crawford and Wise Guy in Second Level competition.
Holzer was thrilled with her score, which she said tells her that Pop Art is well on his way to being ready for the Dressage World Cup in Las Vegas next month. "I think he's certainly on track for Las Vegas," she said of the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Together, they anchored down Canada's 2008 Olympic Dressage Team during the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong finishing 15th overall. "I haven't had him in the ring for a month and he was right there for me today. He's just such a good boy. He was in his field this morning and we put him in the van and drove over to the show and he was just great."
Finishing second in the Grand Prix competition was Karen Lipp riding Latino to a score of 66.383. Third place went to Tine Zinglersen and Neumunster with a score of 64.468.
In Intermediaire competition, Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Dea II continued their winning streak. On opening day, the pair won the FEI Prix St. Georges USEF High Performance class with a score of 71.579. On Saturday, Bateson-Chandler and the nine-year-old Hanoverian mare nabbed another blue ribbon by winning the FEI Intermediaire I USEF High Performance competition with a score of 71.754. Coming in second was Werner van den Brande riding Filigran 037 to a score of 66.842 percent. Bianca Berktold and Berktold's Marko, who took a Prix St. Georges win on Friday, finished third with a score of 66.579.
Winner of the FEI Intermediaire I Open competition was Mikala Gundersen and the Horses Unlimited stallion Wild Dance with a score of 70.526. Gundersen called the win "awesome" especially considering that the new FEI Intermediaire I test isn't the easiest for Wild Dance. "He's a big mover and there are some tight turns in that test so it's not that easy for him, but he's rather supple."
Wild Dance has spent the past year slowly coming back from a long injury and Gundersen said that while he can do most of the Grand Prix, he needs time to grow stronger. "So, we'll stick to the small tour yet this year," she said. "I've done just a few shows with him this season but the scores just keep going up and up."
Gundersen's Intermediaire win also got her another card in the Wild Card Challenge – a 10 of Diamonds. Gundersen remains in the lead in the race to end the challenge with the best hand a grab the $5,000 prize for best hand. She's aiming to earn three more cards on the final day of competition. She has entered three Wild Card Challenge classes today. "I entered three classes because I'm definitely in the game," she said with a laugh. "I have worked hard to get those cards. I've been riding at every show."