WELLINGTON, Fla., Mar. 14--Canada's Ashley Holzer and her Olympic mount Pop Art secured their place at the FEI World Cup Final with a victory Saturday night in the WEF Dressage Classic Grand Prix musical freestyle at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Holzer, who lives in New York and Wellington, scored 77.350 percent to beat out Denmark's Lars Petersen and his Danish warmblood gelding Success with 77.400 percent and fellow Dane Mikala Munter Gundersen on Leonberg in third place with 73.650 percent. Both Petersen and Gundersen now live in Wellington. Reese Koffler-Stanfield on Goubergh's Kasper was the top finishing American in fourth place with 70.450 percent. Photo: SusanJStickle.com
While Holzer's trip to Las Vegas for the Final on April 15-19 is assured, the fate of the Danish Olympic and World Cup star had to wait until Sunday afternoon in California to know whether his score would be high enough. As a rider for Denmark, Petersen had to finish better than second place in the North American League to qualify for the Final, a result he thinks unlikely as his three scores would have to average higher than that of the USA's Steffen Peters and his Olympic mount Ravel who will ride in the last 2009 North American League World Cup class in Del Mar, Sunday afternoon California time.
Saturday night's musical freestyle in PBIEC's International Arena under lights and before a crowd estimated at 3,000 spectators in the 10th week of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival was the last opportunity on the U.S. East Coast for riders to qualify for the Last Vegas Final.
Although Holzer was was already at the top of the North American League standings and Saturday night's competition was not necessary for a place in the Final, she said: "I really wanted to do it before the World Cup. I'm at my best when I keep going in the ring, especially when there's an atmosphere like this. Tonight there was a lot of atmosphere."
Petersen said that he was especially happy with the performance of Success after years of dealing with serious hoof problems.
"My horse," he said, "has a lot of quality but had to deal with a bad foot. I'm just happy to have a horse and do well on it."
Petersen said that if he does not qualify for the World Cup and is not awarded a wild card he may aim for the European championships in England in August.
The event can also be seen at Sunday at 9 p.m. US Eastern Time on WHDT Channel 44 in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties of South Florida and is also available to Palm Beach County residents on DirecTV Channel 44 and Comcast Cable Channel 438 and ATT Channel 1044 in Miami-Dade. It can also be seen in the Boston area on WHDN Channel 26 and ATT.
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