Palm Beach Dressage Derby Series Kickoff Highlights Exciting New Duos

Robert Dover and FBW Kennedy

More than 100 spectators gathered around Ring 1 both days to watch the FEI classes at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby Series Kickoff, the first show of the 2004 dressage season in Florida, January 17-18, hosted by The Horse Park at Equestrian Estates, in Loxahatchee.

Robert Dover aboard his new mount FBW Kennedy won the Grand Prix on Saturday, scoring 73.750% and followed that with a win on Sunday in the Grand Prix Special, earning 70.867%. “I'm just loving riding him,” said Dover , a five-time Olympian who is aiming for a berth on the US Team bound for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Dover was showing the 14-year-old Baden-Wurttemberger chestnut gelding owned by Jane Clark in their second competition together.

Michael Barisone and Meruda

Michael Barisone and Meruda, an eight-year-old Dutch gelding, scored 67.292% for second place in the Grand Prix – only the second outing for this new duo. Owner Jane Suwalsky trained Meruda at home from age 3-1/2, and then gave the ride to Barisone two years ago.

Meruda competed in a Six Year Old FEI class, and won the Championship at Devon , then did not compete again until his Grand Prix debut at the October 2003 BLM Championships.

Barisone, who now owns a share in Meruda, will show him in Olympic Selection Trial Qualifiers this season. “He's not a Prix St. Georges/Intermediaire I horse. He's a Grand Prix horse. It's just written all over him,” said Barisone.

Shawna Harding and Sitni

Shawna Harding saddled up four new mounts for the Kickoff and took the High Score of the show with Sitni, one of three owned by Bruno Schmitter. The six-year-old Oldenburg gelding was imported from Denmark in December. The Kickoff marked this pair's show debut. They clinched the high score with 77.222% in Third Level Test 1 on Saturday, which proved unbeatable for the weekend.

Harding said Sitni was rewarded for his consistency and earned 9s on gaits and his walk tour. On Sunday, they contested Third Level 2 and again earned the blue ribbon, scoring 74.524%. “He's a lot of fun to ride. He's real easy, super easy to ride,” said Harding.

Jane Savoie and Menno

Jane Savoie debuted her new mount for the Florida season – Menno, a seven-year-old, Friesian owned by Proud Meadows Farm in Texas . Savoie has had ‘Moshie' in training for a year and showed him in New England twice prior to the Kickoff. On Saturday in Second Level Test 1, they earned 66.579% for second place behind Bill Warren and Romantic who won with 71.842%, but then came back on Sunday to take the victory in Second Level Test 2, earning 62.973%.

”Right now that's what we're schooling and it's often hard to show at the level that you're schooling,” said Savoie, “but I couldn't be more pleased. He did as well as I do at home, if not, in some cases better.” She calls the Friesian breed's temperament “the perfect amateur's horse – so uncomplicated.” Her long-term plan is to train Menno to Grand Prix.