Wellington, FL - Laura Graves dominated the Grand Prix CDI5* (the qualifier for the freestyle), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, on a sweltering day in week five of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida. The American rider, who is ranked fourth in the world, came close to the magic 80% once again on Verdades, scoring 79.543% - 6% more than Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén in second place. Graves and the 16-year-old gelding by Florett As are unbeaten in their three starts this year, all of which have been at AGDF.
Laura Graves is 0.5% shy of the 80% marker on Verdades in the Grand Prix CDI5*. “At the last show it was much cooler; we have to gauge our horses’ stamina when it comes to warmer weather and I maybe underestimated how fit my horse is,” said Graves, who trains with Debbie McDonald. “It was warm today but there wasn’t even a second where he felt like he was tired. That was nice to know as we’re going in to Tryon [FEI World Equestrian Games] this year and it’s going to be at least this warm, so knowing he can handle it is a nice feeling.”
Their score was trending over 81% mid-way through the test and, had it not been for a slightly-less-than-perfect line of two-time changes, it would probably have stayed north of 80%.
“I felt a bit of a hop behind in the twos. But the trot tour felt amazing and he’s a super fun horse,” said Graves, 30. “I’m learning that even when he’s that hot, I still have to put my leg on. It’s amazing to ride a horse every day who never says no.”
Graves is grateful of the opportunities to compete in an electric atmosphere, and views each outing as a chance to train for major championships.
“He can be difficult to settle in an atmosphere, but I embrace all these opportunities because we can’t create them at home, so every chance to train in a difficult situation puts you a little bit ahead of the game. We are so lucky to have this atmosphere because otherwise we would always be playing catch-up to the Europeans who have a lot of opportunities to show in these big environments,” she concluded.
Graves will debut her new freestyle and floorpan, which is designed with an extremely high degree of difficulty, tomorrow evening under the lights at Friday Night Stars. Laura Graves with judge at C Janet Foy (USA), Amanda S. Luby and Olga Harstock of sponsors CaptiveOne Advisors, and AGDF's Cora Causemann.
Swedish rider Vilhelmson-Silfvén, who is no stranger to the AGDF circuit, also felt that the heat had adversely affected her horse Paridon Magi’s performance.
“The feeling was not as great as at the last show two weeks ago, but I was still impressed that he went in there and did everything. Perhaps I didn’t make him hot enough beforehand,” she said.
Ashley Holzer, who now rides for the US having previously carried the Canadian flag, was delighted to find herself on the podium after an energetic performance on Diane Fellows’ mare Havanna 145, an 11-year-old by Hochadel.
“I’m amazed to be in this company,” she said. “Mine is a green grand prix horse and it was so hot that I had to change the warm-up. But she came out lit up; she’s a goer and a real team player. I think she was a little tired in her body, but not in her mind.”
Place, rider, nationality, horse, horse information: judge E%, judge H%, judge C%, judge M%, judge B%, total
FEI Grand Prix CDI5* (for freestyle), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors
E, Hans-Christian Matthiesen (DEN); H, Katrina Wuest (GER); C, Janet Foy (USA); M, Vincenzo Truppa (ITA); B, Susan Hoevenaars (AUS)
1. Laura Graves (USA) on Verdades, her own and Curt Maes’ 16yo KWPN gelding by Florett As x Goya: 79.457, 80.435, 79.348, 81.087, 77.391, 79.543%.
2. Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven (SWE) on Paridon Magi, Lövsta Stuteri’s 15yo Swedish warmblood gelding by Don Primero x Napoleon 625: 72.174, 74.565, 74.022, 75.652, 71.087, 73.5%.
3. Ashley Holzer (USA) on Havanna 145, Diane Fellows’ 11yo Hanoverian mare by Hochadel x Rodgau: 70.652, 72.826, 69.891, 71.739, 69.457, 70.913%.
4. Shelly Francis (USA) on Doktor, Patricia Stempel’s 15yo Oldenburg gelding by Diamond Hit x Renoir I: 70.87, 71.739, 70.326, 69.13, 72.065, 70.826%.
5. Chase Hickok (USA) on Sagacious HF, Hyperion Farm Inc.’s 19yo KWPN gelding by Welt Hit II x Cocktail: 68.587, 72.283, 71.087, 71.196, 69.022, 70.435%.
6. P.J. Rizvi (USA) on Breaking Dawn, her own 17yo KWPN gelding by Akribori x Ronald: 67.391, 69.022, 67.391, 70, 68.696, 68.5%.
7. Yvonne Losos de Muñiz (DOM) on Aquamarijn, her own 13yo KWPN mare by United x Gribaldi: 64.022, 65.435, 64.348, 66.196, 62.935, 64.587%.