Wellington, FL - Chris Von Martels (CAN) won the second annual Palm Beach Dressage Derby Exhibition at AGDF, besting fellow international riders Laura Tomlinson (GBR), Adrienne Lyle (USA), and Juan Matute, Jr. (ESP). Von Martels and Tomlinson went head-to-head in the final round of competition aboard Patricia Koschel's Leuchtfeuer DE. Each rider had a five-minute familiarization period with each of their rides, prior to riding an FEI Prix St. Georges test before a panel of three judges.
Von Martels started the competition off aboard Legacy's Ambicioso, a 2005 P.R.E. gelding owned by Deborah Berger, and would earn a 64.605% from the judges. Paired with last year's champion, Adrienne Lyle, Von Martels made the most of the pair's time in the arena to advance to the final round of competition. Lyle received a 64.254% in a close competition, earning an overall fourth place.
Tomlinson advanced in front of Juan Matute, Jr. in the first round of knockout competition aboard Zazou, a 2004 Dutch Warmblood gelding (00 Seven x Kimbel) owned by Dana Dion, with a score of 66.535%. Matute, Jr. scored a 64.825% and would ultimately finish in third place.
"You certainly couldn't have had two more different rides in one day. I don't have much experience riding Spanish horses at all and it was my first time riding one in a competition setting," explained Von Martels. "He was very sweet and had my back a few times when I didn't give him any extra confidence. Patricia's [Koschel] horse I thought was actually very fun to ride and is certainly a powerful, strong horse, but when you find that connection with him you could ride a very accurate test."
Tomlinson drew the short card and rode back-to-back rounds, after already riding the FEI Grand Prix Special aboard Rosalie B and was admittedly tired. Tomlinson and Leuchtfeuer DE scored a 67.719% and would await Von Martels score.
Jokingly, Tomlinson admitted that she probably got Leuchtfeuer DE very warmed up for Von Martels, who performed a lovely test to score a 70.008% for the win.
"The first ride was very fun, it was a very powerful horse. The canter was trickier to ride because it got very big in front. It was a good challenging ride though. I was expecting Leuchtfeuer DE to be a bit lazy and then he actually got very hot with me during the test," commented Tomlinson. "He just got a bit too strong, but unlike Chris, I don't think I had collection the entire time during my test. I was definitely not lacking impulsion during the test, but probably lacking a bit of connection."
"It's fun to have nice horses in a class like that and it was a lot of fun for us," continued Tomlinson.
"I thought the derby was very fun. It was my first time doing a class like this and I was definitely excited. The horse I rode, like Laura said, was very powerful. The trot tour was very exciting, but the canter was a bit more challenging to ride," noted Matute, Jr. "These classes are something I always look forward to and it adds another aspect to your riding."
Former champion, Adrienne Lyle, is always excited to compete in the class, which offers riders a way to test their skills in an enjoyable, yet educational atmosphere. "I think these classes are very entertaining and we were commenting on the sidelines that it's the only time you see everyone get a bit light-hearted and is able to laugh at themselves. If they have a mistake, everyone smiles, and the crowd cheers when you finally get your lead change," laughed Lyle. "It was fun and it's always a good time with good camaraderie."
Thomas Baur, Director of Sport at AGDF, thinks the inclusion of a true derby class is essential during the circuit and fits in perfectly with the Palm Beach Dressage Derby competition during week eight. "Definitely we will see this in the future. This has potential for more than a Sunday afternoon I think. Unfortunately, we couldn't do that this year with Nations' Cup across the street, but I will try to make this an evening event next year," noted Baur. "I'd like to thank all of the owners and riders who donated their horses and to these riders."
Competition at AGDF continues again Wednesday, March 16, with the FEI CDI 4*/3*/1* presented by Havensafe Farm and will continue through Sunday, March 20. For more information on AGDF, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.
Final Results Palm Beach Derby Dressage Exhibition
1. Chris Von Martels (CAN), Leuchtfeuer DE, 2003 Hanoverian gelding by Londondery x Duene x Ne Niro owned by Patricia Koschel: 70.395%, 69.737%, 70.132%, 70.008%
2. Laura Tomlinson (GBR), Leuchtfeuer DE, 2003 Hanoverian gelding by Londondery x Duene x Ne Niro owned by Patricia Koschel: 67.895%, 67.500%, 67.763%, 67.719%
3. Juan Matute, Jr. (ESP), Zazou, 2003 Dutch Warmblood gelding by 00 Seven x Kimbel x Ferro owned by Dana Dion: 64.605%, 63.684%, 66.184%, 64.825%
4. Adrienne Lyle (USA), Legacy's Ambicioso, 2005 P.R.E. gelding owned by Deborah Berger: 65.658%, 64.211%, 62.895%, 64.254%