Dover had originally entered FBW Kennedy and Rainier – both horses owned by Jane Clark – in the Grand Prix, but scratched them on Friday. An insect bit Kennedy, which caused swelling in his chest and legs, but USAE-approved medications administered by a veterinarian enabled him to compete on Saturday. Dover decided to concentrate his attention on the new mount, rather than Rainier whom he’s had for five years and rode at Sydney.
“I’ve truly never been as happy to go into the ring on a horse in my life,” said Dover of the 14-year-old, chestnut Baden-Wurttemberger gelding who also competed at Sydney on the Danish team under rider Lone Jorgenssen. “Look at his abilities.” Kennedy’s best movement in the test was his piaffe, Dover said. “You just sit there and you just go like this [slight touch] and he starts. He’s so wonderful about that, and his pirouettes, and his extended trots. He’s a lovely, lovely horse.”
Dover also pointed out that since Kennedy is a well-known international competitor, the judges have to get used to seeing him on the horse. “I’ve got to earn the respect of the dressage world as a combination with this horse,” Dover said.
Owner Jane Clark was ringside for the debut. “I thought it was wonderful to have Robert back in the tack. He’s a great horse. I’m looking forward to two or three years of Robert competing him, because to me it’s not about just the Olympic Games or whatever, it’s about going to the ring with someone with a big smile on their face like he did today.” Clark also noted, “The first ride was pretty perfect.”
Robyn Mitchell and Graciolo Win Intermediaire I
Earlier in the day, Robyn Mitchell, who is in training with Dover, won the Intermediaire I riding Graciola, scoring 64.625%. It was her debut at I-I. “I’m so ecstatic to do that well today,” said Mitchell, 30, of Howell, NJ. She leased the 15-year-old Dutch mare from owner Marsha Pepper for the winter. “It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in full training so I’ve got myself back in the full training swing of things and it’s just helped unbelievably.” Mitchell has been attending Florida winter shows for nine years with clients, but arrived this October with only Graciola and a young horse. “I’m just doing my own thing, no clients, no distractions, just training for me this year.”
Graciola, an experienced FEI horse, is especially good at her canter pirouettes, Mitchell said, and in the I-I the judges awarded her an 8 for her first one. “The second one it was my fault – I didn’t ride well and actually it was horrible,” Mitchell said with a laugh, and then added more compliments to the mare, “she’s so great at her tempi changes that you can just sit up there and smile, half-halt, swing the leg, and she just bangs them out. Her tempis were quite good today also.” Though Mitchell has trained the FEI movements at home for years, she never had the opportunity to show, but a new sponsor, Vince Fevola, made the lease and Florida trip possible. Mitchell is now looking forward to moving up another notch. “Robert seems to think that we’ll be able to do a Grand Prix by the end of the season. I hope he’s right because it would be my first and I’d be thrilled to do it on this mare. She’s such a nice, nice girl.”
Dr. Cesar Parra Makes Debut with Galant Du Serein
Dr. Cesar Parra, 40, of Whitehouse Station, NJ and Jupiter, FL, riding Galant du Serein owned by Anne Whitten won the Intermediaire II class with a score of 62.317%. Parra said that his goal at the show with the nine-year-old Selle Francais stallion was to become a pair. “He’s the one that bucked me off at Devon,” Parra said with a smile. “Wellington is Wellington – we’ve got ponies, we’ve got jumpers, everything, so my idea here was not so much to come and show off to win, it was more to dance together, that he listen to my aids – no whips, no half halts, just a nice pleasant ride so that he can start trusting me and I can trust him too.”
Parra, who has represented his native Colombia at the World Equestrian Games and Pan American Games, has had the ride for three months and views his new partner as an international caliber mount. Formerly shown at Grand Prix by Hubertus Schmidt of Germany, Galant du Serein placed second at Wiesbaden and won at Munich. “His scores were over 70, so I hope in three or four more months we’ll be up there,” said Parra. “This horse hopefully is going to the Olympics next year for Colombia. His strongest points are three good gaits, a world-class trot and excellent transitions in piaffe/passage.”
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