Laura Graves and Verdadez Launch Their 2015 Year with an Epic Win

Click to watch the winning freestyle for Laura and Verdades
Click to watch the winning freestyle for Laura and Verdades

Three American women were victorious at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival's (AGDF) Week 9 "Friday Night Stars" FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, presented by Everglades Dressage. Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades scored an incredible 78.875% to take the win, followed by Lisa Wilcox (USA) and Pikko del Cerro HU in second with a 76.325%, and Shelly Francis (USA) and Doktor in third receiving a 75.950%. Laura Graves and Verdades are in their first competition back from their outstanding finish at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG). "He was a little nervous going in, but every time we get into that box he does not ever fail to impress me and nine times out of ten will behave himself," she said. "I'm glad to be here and it's been a really long time, if ever, that I've led a victory lap and I'm honored to have had two American women behind me."

Laura Graves and Verdades  Photo: SusanJStickle.com
Laura Graves and Verdades Photo: SusanJStickle.com

The Stadium at AGDF housed another sell-out crowd under the lights with Carla Jablonski, a mezzosoprano from The Metropolitan Opera and a graduate of The Julliard School, performing the national anthem accompanied by a string quartet from the Frost School of Music. Competition at AGDF will continue throughout the weekend with a number of classes including the highly anticipated Derby class, which will begin at 11 am on Sunday.
 
Wilcox and Pikko del Cerro HU have been tested in the past year with their partnership and tonight was a breakthrough moment for the duo. "I am thrilled. For us, he was so fantastic before the year he had off and you never know what you're going to have bringing them back, but I feel like he is better and stronger than ever," she explained. "We're gaining strength from show to show and we can be a little inconsistent still, but overall I am just so happy with where he is going and what he's becoming."
 
Francis and Doktor have been one of the most consistent pairs on the circuit this season, rarely ever out of the top five in any of their classes. The trust between the two is clear as Doktor continues to improve with Francis' guidance and builds upon his scores each week. "We had a few little bobbles and he was a little bit tenser in the warm-up than usual, but I have been so proud of him that we continue to put in consistent performances. He's so workman-like throughout each and every test," said Francis.

Laura and Verdades with ringmaster Gustavo Murcia, judge Linda Zang, Bethany Peslar and Endel Ots of Everglades Dressage, and Allyn Mann of Adequan®. Photo: SusanJStickle.com
Laura and Verdades with ringmaster Gustavo Murcia, judge Linda Zang, Bethany Peslar and Endel Ots of Everglades Dressage, and Allyn Mann of Adequan®. Photo: SusanJStickle.com

Bethany Peslar and Endel Ots of Everglades Dressage, sponsors of the Large Tour classes for Week 9, continue to find ways to grow the sport, especially through their sponsorship of AGDF. "We're really committed to giving back to the sport and sponsoring an event like this is very exciting for us. We are looking forward to the rest of circuit and to next year," said Ots.
 
Allyn Mann of Adequan®, title sponsor for the entire season of AGDF, was on hand to share his thoughts of the night. He expressed, "We have an unbelievable group of women here with us tonight, and I am so proud to see all of them find this success. I'm honored to be sitting here with them and that I am able to see their incredible talent and their wonderful horses. This group of people is really great, and I am lucky to be a part of this opportunity."

Linda Zang, Judge at C tonight, was impressed with the quality of the tests and the progress the United States is making to strengthen the sport of dressage. "The judges really worked tonight. The riders are progressing and this program continues to make moves towards the top of the dressage world," she stated. "As a judge, and I speak for the entire panel, we had to work hard. It wasn't just sitting and giving scores. All of the riders are getting so keen on their points and we're looking at consistent (scores of) 7, 8, and 9."

Jill Irving (right) presented the Best Owner Awards to  Carla Bahr, Anne Sparks, and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz. Photo: SusanJStickle.com
Jill Irving (right) presented the Best Owner Awards to Carla Bahr, Anne Sparks, and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz. Photo: SusanJStickle.com

Several awards were given throughout the night, highlighting the hard work of competitors from all divisions of the show, both National and International. The "Best Horse Owner for Overall Highest Percentage" presented by Jill Irving, was given to Carla Bahr (also the breeder) and Cyrus for their scores at AGDF 5. Cyrus, a 2009 gelding (Contuci x Corthena, Cor Noir) and rider Tom Dvorak (CAN) had a high score of 78.182% in Level Three. Anne Sparks, owner of Gallant Reflections HU, was given the award for her horse's performances at AGDF 7.

A special presentation was made to present Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center with a check for $5,000, donated by Wellington Equestrian Realty on behalf of Janne Rumbough, who won the Best Owner Award for the Grand Prix Freestyle at AGDF 7 as owner of My Lady, ridden by Mikala Gundersen

Lisa Wilcox and Pikko Del Cerro HU Photo: SusanJStickle.com
Lisa Wilcox and Pikko Del Cerro HU Photo: SusanJStickle.com

1. Laura Graves (USA), Verdades 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by rider, Florett As x Liwilarda x Goya: 81.500%, 78.125%, 76.875%, 78.250%, 79.625%, 78.875%
2. Lisa Wilcox (USA), Pikko del Cerro HU, 2003 Hanoverian stallion owned by Horses Unlimited, Pik L x Rohweena x Rohdiamont: 78.500%, 75.625%, 75.375%, 75.750%, 76.375%, 76.325%
3. Shelly Francis (USA), Doktor, 2003 Oldenburg gelding owned by Patricia Stempel, Diamond Hit x Gurena x Renoir I: 76.375%, 74.750%, 74.750%, 76.875%, 77.000%, 75.950%
4. Lars Petersen (DEN), Mariett, 1998 Danish Warmblood mare owned by Marcia Pepper, Come Back II x Zendi x Sidney: 75.625%, 74.875%, 73.500%, 76.750%, 75.375%, 75.225%
5. Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE), Benetton Dream, 2004 Hanoverian stallion owned by Lövsta Stuteri, Bretano II x Rotkäppchen x Rotspon: 74.375%, 72.625%, 73.250%, 75.625%, 72.125%, 73.600%

Lisa Wilcox and Pikko Del Cerro HU Photo: SusanJStickle.com
Lisa Wilcox and Pikko Del Cerro HU Photo: SusanJStickle.com

6. Charlotte Jorst (USA), Kastels Nintendo, 2003 Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Kastel Denmark, Negro x Rodieni R x Monaco: 70.750%, 73.500%, 75.125%, 72.875%, 72.250%, 72.900%
7. Ashley Holzer (CAN), Dressed in Black, 2005 Danish Warmblood stallion, owned by rider, Dresemann x Sweetheart x Silvano: 69.375%, 73.375%, 70.375%, 75.375%, 73.250%, 72.350%
8. Christoph Koschel (GER), Tiesto, 2000 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Hof Beckerode GMBH, Gribaldi x Nadie x Ferro: 73.125%, 72.375%, 70.375%, 73.625%, 72.250%, 72.350%




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