In the Grand Prix Special, Canada claimed the one-two position, making team coach Robert Dover tired but proud. With the largest contingent of Canadians now training in Florida in preparation for the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games selection trials, Victoria Winter commented "It is exciting for us all to be together like this." Belinda Trussell & Anton took the blue ribbon with an impressive 68.292 percent representing Canada. Anton is a 10 year-old gelding by Anteaus owned by Robyn Eames of Stouffville Ontario. Between her excellent changes, expressive passage, and her class and grace, Trussell’s ride was an easy one to watch. Second place went to Victoria Winter with a 67.2 percent riding Proton, and third went to Todd Flettrich & Otto with a 66.958. For many, the FEI Grand Prix Freestyles was the Saturday evening entertainment. Who doesn’t love dinner and a show? A ringside banquet dinner was held during the freestyles making the evening a social one. The festive atmosphere and the large crowd pumped the horses up and made the evening exciting.
Before Ashley Holzer and Pop Art entered the ring, some of the supporters of the Canadian team cheered in anticipation of Holzer’s world-renowned freestyle. Holzer & Pop Art wowed the crowd and won the class with a whopping 76.4 percent riding to the Fireworks from the Epcot center and National Treasure. The song National Treasure was actually Holzer’s daughter’s idea to add into the freestyle. “My daughter said that Poppy is a National Treasure because she loves him so much,” Holzer said. Karen Robinson from Applause Dressage put together Holzer’s music for her freestyle, which she rode at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong.
Holzer seemed ecstatic with her ride. “I was thrilled with my ride. I thought there were parts of it where he was the best he’s ever, ever been,” she said.
Mikala Gundersen atop Leonberg, a 16 year-old stallion by Lonely Boy XX came in second place with a fantastic score of 71.8 percent. Riding to jazz and oldies themed music, Gundersen’s ride was electric, and a true crowd pleaser. One of the highlights of the ride was the incredible engagement shown in the passage and piaffe. Taking home the yellow ribbon for the freestyle was Melissa Taylor & Schumacker Solyst, a 16 year-old Danish Warmblood by Schwadroneur. Taylor’s ride was a blast from the past and included Looney Tunes and cartoon themed songs. The music matched the horse’s rhythm well; perhaps the most memorable part of the freestyle being the canter ridden to the classic “Inspector Gadget” theme song.
Saturday was another long, busy, and successful day at the Jim Brandon Center in Wellington, FL. Stay tuned to DressageDaily.com for coverage of the third and final day of The Gold Coast Opener Festival CDI.
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