Raleigh – It was a new song for Cesar Parra following his CDI Prix St. Georges win at the CDI-W/Y/J Raleigh and Capital Dressage Classic, held May 29-31 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. It was the first CDI win for Parra since becoming a U.S. citizen, which meant that this time, the song he heard in the winner's circle was the American national anthem.
"It was my first time riding for the U.S.," Parra said. "It was so exciting. It was very emotional because it was a dream come true. This is a new chapter in my life and that's my anthem now." Parra's students and friends surprised him by going out and getting small American flags, which they all waved as the national anthem began to play. His first CDI win as an American occurred on Friday when he won the CDI Prix St. Georges with Olympia, a 12-year-old KWPN owned by Dr. Laurie Washton with a score of 69.386 percent.
The pair followed that up with a win in Saturday's CDI Intermediaire I with a score of 68.684. Their hat trick was ruined on Sunday by Lisa Hyslop and Rolling Stone.
Hyslop and the Westfalen gelding came from eighth place in Friday's CDI Prix St. Georges to take second place in Saturday's Intermediaire I with a score of 68.070. Hyslop attributed Friday's finish to "rider error." On Sunday, they moved ahead of Parra and Olympia, finishing first in the CDI Intermediaire Freestyle with a score of 71.967. Parr and Olympia finished second in the freestyle with a score of 70.850. Coming in second in Friday's CDI Prix St. Georges was Richard Klaassen with Royal Flash 2 and a score of 66.579 percent. Hyslop, who has been training with Bettina Drummond, was pleased with her freestyle win. "It's been a long road, but I really have to thank everyone who has helped me get here. I've had good support and good training help."
For Parra, the thrill of his first victory as an American was only matched by his pride for his students. A strong believer in the team concept, Parra said his wins could never have occurred without the support of his young rider team members. "With talent, you can win some classes, but with a good team, you can make history," he said. "I was so proud of my team. Yesterday, Katie (Riley) was riding at the same time as I and she usually coaches me, but she was riding. So, Julie (McKean) coached her and Anna (Stovall) coached me and did a great job. She was very proud and so am I."
Riley had wins of her own over the weekend and Stovall did well in young rider competition. McKean placed second in the CDI Young Rider Team Test and Young Rider Individual Test with Stravinsky, behind Meagan Davis and Bentley. McKean then won the Young Rider Freestyle. Parra also made use of his weekend to inspire some young riders who aren't part of his team. As a speaker during a young rider pizza party, he emphasized the importance of following their dreams and working with others, not against them. "I told them to dream big, have fun and play as part of a team."
In CDI Grand Prix competition, the big winner of the weekend was Lauren Sammis riding Sagacious HF. They won Saturday's CDI Grand Prix Freestyle with a score of 74.250. Coming in second was Pierre St. Jacques with Lucky Tiger and a score of 70.150. It was the same in Friday's CDI Grand Prix competition in which Sammis and Sagacious also took the win with a score of 69.191 and St. Jacques and Lucky Tiger were right behind in second with a 65.574 percent. In the CDI Grand Prix Special competition, the winner was Gwen Poulin riding Much Ado to a score of 63.667. Second was Melissa Jackson with Wellington and a score of 62.458.