Wellington, FL - The second day of competition in the FEI CDI 3* presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, was graced with beautiful weather, as sunny skies and a pleasant breeze welcomed riders down the centerline of the Global International Ring at 2016 Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Competitors in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3* hailed from seven countries and demonstrated musicality and technical skill in their performances.
The class was won with a 74.300% by Beatrice Marienau (USA) riding Stefano 8, her own KWPN (Gribaldi x Gracia) gelding. She was stunned by their success in the freestyle, but has steadily worked on improving the pair's marks in the arena throughout the year.
"It's still unreal to me. I think it takes a little bit to understand what happened here; it's amazing. He was really hot already in the warm-up today and I have to figure out how to channel that energy. He was very strong and the last couple of freestyles, I had a few problems in the beginning," she explained. "I was able to just take his energy and really dance within that. Through the whole test I knew that he was very strong, but also knew that's what makes him extremely special. That's when he looks big and looks impressive. I tried to let him do his job and just stay out of his way."
Traveling from California to compete at AGDF this season, Marienau appreciated the larger group of riders and the impressive audience attendance, which offered her and Stefano 8 the chance to compete under pressure while working on pushing their scores above the 70% mark. Stefano is a typically hot horse, and the freestyle offered Marienau a chance to improve on their Grand Prix performance with set choreography that helps to channel his energy. Their freestyle makes excellent use of major extensions into passage, making the best use of his natural enthusiasm in the ring. Marienau was very positive about the ways in which their freestyle helped her show off Stefano's best qualities.
With an upbeat musical selection, Marienau finds herself getting excited before the pair begins to prepare for their routine and laughed that sometimes she may even be found practicing the routines in front of Stefano's stall. "When we were getting ready and before I went in, I stood in front of his stall and everyone was laughing because I danced through my freestyle myself! I just love the music. It's just fun and I like to dance to it myself.
"Besides the fact that it really fits him well, what I like about it is that it has that snap and that's how he is. He has that. I tried once a little bit more magical, floaty music, but it doesn't fit him and he doesn't stand out," she commented.
As for the rest of the season, Marienau hopes to continue to increase her scores and looks forward to spending some of the summer in Europe getting her feet wet on the international circuit. "My expectations really were to get more show experience, but obviously there are more riders here and the audience out there so it was important for me to get that different environment and see how I do with that kind of pressure," said Marienau. "I wanted to try and increase our scores to high 60's and maybe scratch 70, and that's why I was so excited with this score."
Shelly Francis and Patricia Stempel's Hanoverian (De Niro x Annabelle) gelding Danilo took second place in today's competition with a technically excellent and musically compelling performance that earned a 74.175%. Francis was pleased with Danilo's test, which she views as part of his development to become a top Grand Prix horse. He is emerging as a solid competitor for Francis, who has brought him along through the levels herself.
She said, "I was quite happy with him because he was a bit more lively today and (had) a couple of little sticky spots in the beginning. He got a little less energetic in the last piaffes, but overall he really went nice with the music and it's a progression upward. Every week we're getting a little bit better and (we will) see how far we go."
She took a risk with her musical choice, which is entirely a capella. She explained, "I chose that music for him with Marlene Whitaker because he is very sound sensitive, and this was the only music we could turn up really loud without bothering him."
Page and her Danish Warmblood (Michellino x Alberte Lindebjerg) mare Alina took third place in today's competition with a 71.150%. She was exceptionally proud of her mare, who gave her another great performance. "Let's face it, my mare is 18. Every time I go down the centerline is a highlight," she said. "Every time she finishes that test ripping down the centerline it shows me that she still wants to be out here doing this. Every day I get to ride her is a great day as far as I'm concerned."
Several weeks ago the pair had a super freestyle that included a piaffe-passage tour she considers among her career best, but several mistakes kept them from being in the top three. Today's freestyle was technically consistent and demonstrated a mature partnership reflective of their experience together. Page explained that since Alina is an older horse, she uses an intermittent approach to warming her up, especially once the mare has done one class already in the week of competition.
"We had a couple of little mishaps in our changes last week and tonight I was happy that our changes came off the pirouettes really, really easily and right with the music. She was a little bit, maybe a click, off my music and a tiny bit ahead, but what can I say, I'm happy any day that mare wants to go like that and it's a good day for me," she continued.
Competition at AGDF continues today with the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3*, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, at 1 p.m., followed by the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 5*, presented by Diamante Farms, starting at 4 p.m. For more information on AGDF and to see a full weekly schedule, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.
Final Results: FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty
1. Beatrice Marienau (USA), Stefano 8, 1999 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Gribaldi x Gracia x Actueel owned by Beatrice Marienau: 75.750%, 76.375%, 74.625%, 72.375%, 72.375%, 74.300%
2. Shelly Francis (USA), Danilo, 2004 Hanoverian gelding by De Niro x Anabella x Andiamo owned by Patricia Stempel: 73.875%, 75.125%, 73.625%, 74.625%, 73.625%, 74.175%
3. Arlene Page (USA), Alina, 1998 Danish Warmblood mare by Michellino x Alberte Lindebjerg x Diamant owned by Arlene Page: 70.875%, 70.250%, 69.750%, 73.375%, 71.500%, 71.150%
4. Laura Tomlinson (GBR), Unique, 2004 Holsteiner mare by Caspaccio x Grana x Lord owned by Dr. & Mrs. Bechtolscheimer: 69.000%, 69.200%, 67.300%, 67.700%, 65.000%, 67.640%
5. James Koford (USA), 1999 Hanoverian stallion by Donnerhall x SPS Papagena x Prince Thatch xx owned by Maryanna Hayman: 71.500%, 68.875%, 68.500%, 70.875%, 70.000%, 69.950%
6. Christoph Koschel (GER), Butopiar, 2006 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Johnson x Cocktail owned by Christoph Koschel: 68.125%, 70.000%, 68.375%, 70.375%, 70.625%, 69.500%
7. P.J. Rizvi (USA), Breaking Dawn, 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Akribori x Eveline x L.Ronald owned by P.J. Rizvi: 69.750%, 65.500%, 71.625%, 69.125%, 68.375%, 68.875%
8. Lisa Bukowski (CAN) Santos Utopia, 1999 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Flemmingh x Mistral Utopia x Elcaro owned by Quoin Holdings LLC: 65.500%, 66.625%, 67.375%, 68.000%, 65.875%, 66.675%