Text and Photos (unless otherwise marked) by Eliza Sydnor
It was a packed crowd for the Grand Prix freestyle Saturday night. Show management has done a great job of advertising this special evening. People from all over came to watch, including many who had never seen dressage before. They were in for a real treat with some of the performances to come. The judges for the freestyle were Axel Steiner of the US, Marianne Campdera of Mexico, Cara Whitham of Canada, Anne Gribbons of the US, and Freddy Leyman of Belgium. The top three placings for the freestyle were the same as the night before in the Grand Prix.
Third was Sharon McCusker of MA with Juli Sherif, scoring 68.5%. Second again was Pierre St Jaques with Lucky Tiger, who again impressed with his correct training and quiet riding. He ended up with the great score of 70.150%.
Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF were the absolute stars of the night. They handily won the freestyle with a 74.250% and a unanimous first place from the judges. The crowd was unanimous in their love of this pair as well and broke into spontaneous applause during the ride. When they came down the centerline for their final halt, you could feel the tension as the crowd got ready to explode. Sagacious’ owner, Al Guden, was on cloud nine. “I seriously had tears in my eyes when they did ones down centerline and the audience applauded! I've just never been at an American show when that happened,” Al said.
“Lauren and Sagacious were great but the supporting cast was so important. Katie Patton, Sagacious' groom and Don Later, his farrier, are important members of the team. And we can't thank Ashley Holzer enough for flying down to help them prepare for the Grand Prix,” he said after their ride.
All of us watching were in agreement that this pair are well on their way to being our next American superstars. The harmony between horse and rider, and the incredible talent that Sagacious has for every movement in the Grand Prix is just amazing. “I'm still pinching myself to make sure this is all real,” Al said. Then he added with a big smile, “See you at Gladstone!”
It will be so exciting to see this pair up against the best in the US. It’s incredible to think that Sagacious is still only 10 years old, and his best is surely yet to come!