West Palm Beach – Dominion's inaugural Grand Prix Special sponsored by the J. Tim Dutta Corporation earned him a blue ribbon at this year's Gold Coast Dressage Association Opener Festival CDI and that made his rider Shelly Francis absolutely thrilled. "I am really, really, really happy," Francis said. "Some people asked me why I was doing the CDI and not the open class, but I wanted to ride with the big judges and get their real opinion."
And their opinion was that Dominion, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Donnerschwee and owned by Pat Stempel, is definitely international potential. "I ride and train a lot by myself, except when I can work with my mentor, Jo Hinneman, and things can look okay in the mirror to me. I need those judges to tell me that this looks like a real Grand Prix horse and I think they established that for me at this show. Now I feel more confident that he's ready to try harder," Francis said.
Dominion just came out at Grand Prix this past month and this was his first time doing the Grand Prix Special in competition, Francis said. "This weekend was only his second Grand Prix and his first Special. Isn't that something? I was just trying it out to see how he'd do. I'm certainly very pleased with him. I know we need a bit more work, but we've got the time."
Francis said that Dominion is "lively and powerful and just a really cool ride." The gelding also did a great job of being there for her on Friday when the pair competed in the Grand Prix for the Special. Francis said she had a migraine on Friday and "my brain was not really functioning normally." She and Dominion finished second in Friday's class behind winners Jan Brons and Teutobod. By Saturday, with the headache under control, Francis said, "I had my act together and was more prepared."
As far as Francis is concerned, Dominion is just getting started and she expects him to be better and better with each Grand Prix. She's aiming to qualify him for this year's National Dressage Championships and after that the goal is the World Equestrian Games. "It'll be the prime time for him as he'll have a year of Grand Prix experience." Dominion isn't her only top FEI horse. Francis also competed at the Opener Festival with Wig Wam, a nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding also owned by Stempel. Both horses qualified for and competed in last year's National Dressage Championships.
Francis and Wig Wam competed in Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire during the Opener and started off with a red ribbon in Friday's CDI Prix St. Georges right behind Brons and Teutobod. Francis and Wig Wam later competed in Intermediaire. "In the Intermediaire, the ring was a bit slippery and that made Wig Wam a little nervous and tense, but I'm still very pleased with him," Francis said.
This is Wig Wam's second season competing at Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire. Francis said he's schooling Grand Prix, but feels he needs another season before he's settled enough to move up. "He's been doing really great and it's early in the season. I'm hoping to take him to the National Intermediaire Championships again. He just needs more mileage in the ring and then I think he'll be ready to start Grand Prix next year."
[#25937 override="Complete Results for the Gold Coast Opener 2009" title="Complete Results for the Gold Coast Opener 2009"]