In Saturday’s CDI Intermediate I competition, George Williams and Don Bailey narrowly edged out Tuny Page and Ice Cup. Both scored a 70.088 percent, but the technical marks gave Williams the blue ribbon. He was definitely pleased with Don Bailey's performance. "I'm very, very happy with him," Williams said. "The conditions today were quite windy and that made it rather challenging, but he stayed right with me. He was clearly energetic, but he really worked well and I was really pleased with how he went." Williams said Don Bailey will take a bit of a break and next come out in early March for the Palm Beach Dressage Derby.
After that, the pair will focus on making their freestyle debut. "We haven't done one yet so we'll see how that goes," Williams said. He said their music is a lighter-type of jazz that "is quite fun and sort of fits his temperament." Williams is aiming to qualify for the U.S. Intermediate Championships scheduled to be held in Gladstone in late summer. "At home, we're working on the Grand Prix, developing the piaffe and passage and it's coming along well, but he's not ready to be out showing Grand Prix. I do have to get him stronger and of course, I have high hopes. I think he's a talented horse with a natural looseness in his way of going. He's becoming stronger and stronger and I'm really thrilled with the progress we're making."
Williams gives much credit to his support team saying that his success is very much due to the support of coach Kathy Connelly and Don Bailey's owner, Betsy Juliano. And with dual responsibilities as the new U.S. Dressage Federation president and his career as trainer and competitor, Williams admits that life is a bit busy, but says the support he receives from the staff at USDF allows him to focus on the horses that he is showing. "There is a very good staff at USDF who really help me and they have allowed me to continue to focus on my competition. I'm very grateful to them for that support. So, I'd say that so far everything is working pretty well."
Page was just as pleased with Ice Cup's performance. She has owned the Danish gelding since he was five. He's now nine and Page said she's been bringing him along slowly with Grand Prix the ultimate goal. "He's a lovely horse and he's doing great. We've taken our time with him. I showed him a bit at Third and Fourth levels and last year did some Prix St. Georges with him. And this year, he's ready to go out. We're still developing the Grand Prix. He has a wonderful piaffe and passage that is coming, but we're taking our time."
Page said she has no particular plan for the gelding other than eventually competing him at Grand Prix. So, qualifying for the National Dressage Championships this year would be nice, but it's not her prime goal for the year. "My goal is to develop his strength and bring him closer and closer to the Grand Prix." His performance this past weekend at the Wellington Classic Dressage showed her just how good he is, even in gale force winds. "He stayed settled and happy in his work," she said. "He's just a charming horse to ride. He always wants to work with you and is always on your side even in a difficult situation like blowing tents."
[#24656 override="Results for Wellington Classic Dressage Spring Challenge" title="Results for Wellington Classic Dressage Spring Challenge"]