Devon, Penn. – Canadian Jacqueline Brooks and Balmoral took the win in Friday evening’s Grand Prix for the Freestyle with a score of 66.936 at the 2009 Dressage at Devon CDI-W/J/Y. It was Brooks very first Grand Prix win at Devon. Coming in second was Tina Konyot riding Calecto V to a score of 66.851. Third went to Todd Flettrich and Otto with a score of 65.83. “I am so happy, so happy,” said Brooks, who sang along as the Canadian national anthem played. She even had her parents listen in by cell phone back home in Toronto. Missing from this year’s Dressage at Devon was last year’s big Grand Prix Freestyle winner, fellow Canadian Ashley Holzer. Her father passed away last week and Brooks almost skipped Devon to join her friend and coach at the funeral, but Hozler told her that her father would want her to go to Devon “and win. I asked her if I could take Pop Art because then I could win,” Brooks said. She didn’t need Pop Art, Hozler’s partner at the 2008 Dressage at Devon competition. Photo Credit: Sharon Packer for Horse Sports Photography
Despite her win, Brooks is cautious about Saturday night’s Grand Prix Freestyle competition. “I had a lucky day today, but I think people who come out tomorrow will see 12 great freestyles.” Among them will be that of Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF. The pair has been nabbing a number of Grand Prix wins, including two at the New England Dressage Association’s Fall Festival CDI two weeks ago. Sagacious was a bit disturbed by the electricity of the Dixon Oval ring at Dressage at Devon Friday night and finished fifth, but Brooks noted that “by tomorrow, Sagacious will be settled in the ring and it’ll be a real fight for first.”
Because she was busy last year with her Olympic partner Gran Gesto, Brooks had given Balmoral a year off to hang out in a field and relax. She brought him back into work last fall. The horse has been a past winner at Devon in breed competition, in which judges predicted that he had a bright future ahead and they were right. Brooks opted to bring Balmoral, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding bred in Canada and owned by Anne Welch, to Devon because Gran Gesto showed just two weeks earlier at NEDA. “And he went in there and he shocked me,” Brooks said. “I was laughing in the test, it was so fun.”
Konyot was just as excited to have finished second. “I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “It’s our fifth Grand Prix and he’s never competed under lights. I was so happy that I was crying.” She knew she had mistakes in her test but attributed them to the fact that Calecto V, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood she owns, is still young. “I can iron out the mistakes. I know what they are,” she said. The venue was not the problem for Calecto, Konyot said. In fact, he was so relaxed that she was rather slack with the reins and had to remind herself to ride. Mostly, he just needs to confirm some movements, such as his passage-piaffe transitions, Konyot said. She noted that judge Christoph Hess hit her hardest in her scores and when she spoke to him afterward he told her she had “a world-class horse” so she holds no grudges. “He was right in his comments,” she said. But Konyot didn’t need Hess to tell her she has a special horse. She already knew that, even though she said friends laughed at her years ago when she bought Calecto in Europe. “He’s going to be a grand Grand Prix Horse,” she said.