The challenges of the Grand Prix Special Test ended up working to the advantage of David Blake and Ikaros as they earned an international victory on the second day of competition at California Dreaming Productions' Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J/U-25 at the picturesque Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, CA. After more than a year away from the competition ring due to a minor injury, Melanie Pai's bay Danish Warmblood gelding (Akinos x Fernande by Fernando) looked more than ready to return to the winner's circle with Blake, and their powerful, clean test garnered the top average of 68.843%. Blake laughingly admitted to feeling "a little guilty" for earning the narrow victory by one-tenth of a point over his friend and coach Guenter Seidel, who earned reserve honors with 68.725% aboard James and Charlotte Mashburn's KWPN gelding Zero Gravity (Royal Hit x Naica by Contango).
"We took our time bringing Ikaros back, so together we had to get comfortable in the ring again," said Blake. "It really clicked today and he felt so confident. The Grand Prix Special is 'his' test: he has plenty of power, and that's really his strong suit because he can use it so well now, especially in the passage, the trot work, and those difficult transitions. It's great for him to be back."
Next stop for the impressive pair is a Pas de Deux performance with Shannon Peters at next month's Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Las Vegas. "It will be great experience for both of us, and I'm really looking forward to it," Blake noted. "He's such a great horse with such a great character, and is pretty unflappable so I think he'll handle that electric atmosphere very well. Then we'll look forward to trying to get back to Europe for some shows. I think he's got a lot more in there, I just have to continue to learn how to help him do it."
See video of the winning ride on CDP Live!
See complete competition results here.
Complete results and video archives are available on the California Dreaming Productions website, www.californiadreamingproductions.com. The final day of competition at the Festival of the Horse resumes Sunday.
About California Dreaming Productions
Formed by a partnership between long-time show organizer Glenda McElroy of Burbank, CA and Grand Prix riders and trainers David and Alisa Wilson of Chino Hills, CA, the goal of California Dreaming Productions (CDP) is to bring a fresh face to international-level dressage competition on the West Coast. For more information about CDP shows and events, visit our website www.californiadreamingproductions.com or contact Glenda McElroy, email@example.com, or David and Alisa Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.