Wellington, FL - The Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) hosted an entertaining night of equestrian sport at the WEF Dressage Classic, CDI 3* presented by Today's Equestrian and Fellows on Friday. The night's schedule included an opening $10,000 Puissance won by Great Britain's Tim Gredley and Unex Valente, which led into the highlight class of the week, the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle sponsored by Horseware Ireland. The winning score of 74.625% was put up by Tina Konyot (USA) and Calecto V for their second freestyle win in a row at the AGDF. The CDI 3* continues through Sunday, March 17. The judges for tonight's freestyle included: Carlos Lopes at E, Bo Ahman at H, Anne Gribbons at C, Isabelle Judet at M, and Janet Foy at B. Konyot and Calecto V performed their fun and familiar freestyle in front of a crowd of enthusiastic spectators at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The judges scored them with 74.625%. Going last in the order, Jacquline Brooks of Canada and her 2013 Olympic partner D Niro had a spectacular freestyle to a cheering crowd for second place and a score of 71.425%. Mikala Munter Gundersen (DEN) and My Lady were third with a score of 69.800%.
Konyot described Calecto V, a 15-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion by Come Back II x Rastell owned by Konyot and John Byrialsen, as "not the nervous type," and she was very happy with her performance tonight. "He's very laid-back and you have to create a lot, but he's right there for you. He felt very nice this evening. I had a couple of little bobbles in my changes, (but) I had some very good things. At the end, I had a mistake, and I created a piaffe out of it, so it was okay! Improvising blended in. My horse is such a confident, comfortable horse. He enjoys the attention; he loves it."
Konyot needs one more score in order to qualify the FEI World Cup Finals and said she is preparing for the Finals and feels confident. "I'm comfortable with my planning right now. We all have to peak at the right moment, and I'm headed in that direction at this time," she said.
She added, "Jacqui was fabulous!"
Brooks and D Niro have come a long way since their first grand prix in late 2011. Since then, Brooks has seen her "nervous" and "tense" horse become comfortable in large, loud venues. She explained, "I was very careful with the venues I picked then to show him in. I didn't put him in any nighttime venues. I chose smaller, daytime shows with less crowds. That plan worked great going to the Olympics. After that is when I started chasing these shows. My plan now is to be in every big stadium that I can. Now I'm very confident in him that he can go into big stadiums and he enjoys it, probably more than the smaller venues now."
Brooks even feels that D Niro is "a big venue horse" now. "He really finds himself in there. Today he was very, very happy in there," she noted. "He wanted to do all that work. I have to say, of all those big venues, those have been my best tests. The Olympics was the best grand prix I've ever done on him."
Gundersen and My Lady are working towards getting more experience for their top scores. Despite a setback to a disturbance with another horse in the warm-up yesterday, Gundersen said that My Lady returned today as "happy and quiet again."
Of her test tonight, she explained, "My horse was excellent tonight. I made some major mistakes. I was behind the music and I got a little nervous and hectic about that. I tried to just ride my way around! I don't know how it happened; I know this music so well. This music wasn't made for her. I must have been riding very slow or something! (But) I was enjoying the moment. My pirouettes were wonderful. Lady was great."
After the winter season, Gundersen will travel and compete in Europe.
Gundersen believes that each experience helps her horse. "I think My Lady is still a little bit green here. She's still gets a little bit distracted by the surroundings. For sure she still needs to go and see a lot. That's why we're going to Europe. You have to go out and play with the big guys," she said.