Wellington, FL -The first CPEDI 3* of the 2016 season, presented by Mane Stream, courtesy of Rowan O'Riley, Mission Control, Adequan®, and Nutrena at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival commenced today as para-dressage athletes from around North America took to the International Ring at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) for the first time in facility history. Riders representing the United States had a banner day, sweeping each of the classes offered on the first day of competition. The FEI CPEDI 3* will conclude on Sunday, January 10.
Rebecca Hart (USA) and her own Schroeter's Romani won the FEI Para Team Test - Grade II class and recorded the highest score of the day, receiving a 74.167%. Angela Peavy (USA) and Lancelot Warrior, owned by Heather Blitz and Rebecca Reno, took top honors in the FEI Para Team Test - Grade III class with a score of 71.360%. Margaret McIntosh (USA) piloted her own Rio Rio to the lead in the FEI Para Team Test - Grade 1a with a score of 72.754% while Sydney Collier (USA) and Western Rose, owned by Wesley Dunham, took the FEI Para Team Test - Grade 1b with a score of 67.533% to give Team USA the lead moving into the final portion of team competition tomorrow.
Rebecca Hart is a veteran competitor for Team USA, having competed at the World Equestrian Games in 2014, Para-Equestrian World Championships, as well as the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, England. Hart and Schroeters Romani continue to improve their scores with each outing, as the pair has their sights set on the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I loved our ride today. She has just been coming into her own in the past few months. We've tweaked a few things from what we did at Nationals this year; the main thing being that we've removed our stirrups, which can always be a little bit scary. It has really helped improve the connection and harmony that we've wanted and we'll continue to get more comfortable with it," explained Hart. "We've always had the power and expression that we've needed, but we wanted to make it smooth throughout the entire test."
Hart explained that due to her physical condition, Familial Spastic Paraplegia (FSP), riding with stirrups would cause her lower legs to spasm, creating a slight hesitation from Romani. She continued, "I was talking to some of the European riders and they said take your stirrups off. We've been practicing for the past few months, but this is only our second competition trying it and I think it's really smoothed out the whole picture."
The duo earned the highest score of the day and Hart was pleased with the improvements the pair has made, hoping it will earn them a place on the selected team traveling to Rio later this year. "I cannot thank the sponsors enough for supporting this show and helping us into the limelight, which is where we need to be, especially in an Paralympic year," she noted. "The venue has been amazing accommodating and adapting our arenas with both the short and long ring. It has been a wonderful experience and is the perfect atmosphere to help us get prepped for Rio." Lauren Barwick (CAN) and Oynx followed in second place behind Hart, while Kelly Boccia (USA) aboard Donauwalzer CSF earned third place. Deborah Stanitski (USA) and Pilikua Koa finished in fourth.
Angela Peavy capped a phenomenal day aboard Lancelot Warrior, as the duo led the FEI Para Team Test - Grade III division on the first day of competition. Peavy, a rising star for the U.S. Paralympic team, rode an accurate test, which earned the high score for the division. "I was very happy with Lance today. He really has stepped up in the past few months and I thought we had a great connection throughout the test. He was very forward and I was really pleased with our performance," she commented. "He's come a long way in two years and our experiences throughout that time have helped get us to this point."
Competing in Wellington is especially exciting for Peavy, who will stay to compete at AGDF in the next CPEDI3* (Jan. 22-24), as well as test Fourth Level competition in the National Shows also hosted at the venue. She noted, "When you compete here it's like being in your own backyard and you're on your home turf. He's used to this environment and I think that will help us as we look forward to qualifying for Rio."
CPEDI 3* competition continues at AGDF tomorrow with the conclusion of team competition and will host individual competition through Sunday, January 10. For more information on the CPEDI 3* please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com to find ride times and results.