Belinda Trussell (CAN) rode to the top of the FEI Grand Prix Special, with Anton on Sunday morning at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). Fellow Canadian Shannon Dueck and Cantaris bested the FEI Intermediaire-1 Freestyle, to wrap up competition for the AGDF 10 CDI W and CPEDI 3*. Trussell and Robyn Eames' Anton, a 14-year-old Sachsen gelding out of Shirley by Anteaus, finished first out of 13 riders representing six different countries with a score of 72.431%. Second place went to American Shelly Francis and Danilo for their score of 69.686%. Canada also finished third thanks to Ashley Holzer's ride on Tiva Nana, which earned a score of 68.196% for third place. Trussell was very pleased with how Anton performed in the ring, noting that his expression has really begun to develop and make his movements more brilliant.
"Today he was quite clean and expressive. I think that the biggest difference is really great impression. He has a really great piaffe, he was born with that. In the past, we've struggled with expression in the passage and we're getting that with the piaffe, and that's a big difference in my scores going up. He's got really good changes and everything else, and I'm able to go for it a little bit more. I used to have to be a little bit safe, otherwise we might risk a mistake. I feel I can ride out more in the ring now, which is pulling the scores up," Trussell explained. Trussell described Anton, her partner for the last eight years, as a pleasure to ride now as he has come into his own. "As the season is going on I feel like he's getting more confident in the ring, and we're getting our timing together and our partnership. He's such a competitive horse. It's a joy to sit on a horse like that because he goes in every time and I know he's going to go and I know he's going to be brave, and that's an amazing feeling," Trussell smiled. Trussell ended up buying Anton almost by accident, when she was underwhelmed by the horse she traveled to Europe to try as a mount for the Pan-American Games.
"[Trainer Christilot Boylen] said, 'I've got a horse that I think you could lease for the [Pan-American Games].' So I went over there to try this horse out, but I didn't have a connection [with him]. So she said, 'You know, just ride some while you're here.' I sat on Anton at the time and I said, 'I can't tell you why, this horse is so hot and so wild, but I want him.' So I bought him and I love him!" Trussell recalled. Trussell has been able to successfully harness Anton's spicy streak.
Second place finisher Francis described Danilo has a bit more of a work in progress as he debuts in the large tour classes. "These are his first times [competing in large tour classes] and he's just turning ten, and he gets a little bit hot sometimes," Francis explained. "Today he was kind of full of himself even before I started, but I'm really pleased with him. This is the first special that he's done and he really tries hard to listen to momma in the ring! Even when he gets a little scared." Still, Francis is very happy with the young gelding's progress, describing him as "super" in the ring. Her goal for the time being is to get him comfortable at the grand prix level before pushing for more. "I'm trying to be careful not to get him too excited because he gets a little bit hot under the collar. I think he likes it, though," Francis smiled. "He comes in the ring a little bit tense, so I'm just trying to ease him through. I want him to enjoy it. He enjoys the work at home, but in the ring I have to be careful he doesn't get too nervous because I want him to have a good experience. There's a lot more in there. I could get a lot more power, but I'm trying to just get through the movements and take it easy."
Holzer finished third with Tiva Nana, another horse still learning her way in the grand prix ring. Despite being 14 years old, the mare has not had much experience in the show ring. The AGDF 10 is the mare's fifth show ever, and Holzer was thrilled with the outcome of Sunday's class. "Everyone wants to go in and win, that's why we're here, but you can't do that to your horse when they're [green]. You just have to go in and see what they're going to give you and move on and build on that performance. I'm thrilled. I did not expect this," Holzer beamed. Of her test, Holzer said, '[It felt] at times, unbelievable. At times, 'Whoa, where are my legs!' I had some big mistakes, I admit it. I think parts were phenomenal, and she gives me a feeling sometimes where I'm like, 'Oh my god, this horse is going to be unbelievable.'" Holzer continued, "She's an incredible mare. She's a huge trier, huge talent, she just needs to come in here and realize there are no goblins and she's going to be just fine."
FEI Intermediaire-1 Freestyle
Later in the afternoon, Dueck topped the FEI Intermediaire-1 Freestyle aboard Elizabeth Ferber's Cantaris with the pair's best score yet. They finished first with a 71.625% for the top finish. Second place went to Antonio Rivera Galarza (MEX) and Wimbledon Banamex for their score of 68.542%. Paula Matute (ESP) picked up the third place prize on a score of 68.250% with Tarpan Ymas.
"I have to say, his canter half passes were amazing. We do changes on a bending line, and his threes were lovely. He also did a shoulder in straight down towards the judge, and we change [the direction of the bend] back and forth. That was spot on," Dueck smiled. "The other thing I absolutely love about this horse is his extended canter," she added. "I rarely ride a horse that can really do an extended canter that really gets bigger and more uphill, and he can really do that."
In Grade II, it was Canadian Ashley Gowanlock and Collegiate Sweet Leilani finishing first with a score of 71.417%. Lauren Barwick, also of Canada, picked up another blue ribbon with Ferdonia 2 thanks to a score of 76.167%.