The Adequan Global Dressage Festival kicked off the "Friday Night Stars" series with an exciting FEI Grand Prix Freestyle competition and full spectator stands at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Leading the way was Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE) on Don Auriello, who won with a score of 81.575%. Lars Petersen (DEN) and Mariett scored 76.925% for second place. Fellow Dane Mikala Munter Gundersen and My Lady placed third with a score of 74.825%. The first week of the AGDF, sponsored by MTICA Farm and Everglades Dressage, runs through Sunday, January 12. The AGDF continues for 11 more weeks of top dressage competition through March 30. Vilhelmson-Silfven started with a win in yesterday's FEI Grand Prix class, but with the different atmosphere of the lights and spectators, she felt like Don Auriello handled the change well. "Today was a great atmosphere here. I really had a lot of fun riding in there today," she said. "I think Don Auriello got a little bit impressed, but then he focused and was really nice to ride the whole way through. It was lovely with so many spectators, and the feeling in here is really great."
Check out DressageDaily's extensive image gallery below!
She said of her test, "My highlight was really that he did let me ride, and I had a great feeling. He does everything without a big effort. It's a really nice feeling when you feel the horse is so mature that you can just ride. I think I had that today. The pirouettes is one of his highlights, and the piaffes."
Petersen said that he knows his music "inside and out." He added with a laugh, "I also knew exactly where I was in places that I should not have been! But otherwise it's a great atmosphere to ride here; I think it's like riding anywhere."
He noted that Mariett was "a little bit tense, a little spooky," but that "overall though, it's the first show, so I was pretty happy." He continued, "I think the piaffe, passage was good. I normally get really good marks for my music (too)."
Gundersen has been working on her new freestyle routine for three months and had only ridden it at national shows to practice. "My Lady was unbelievable," she related. "She was paying attention, not looking at anything outside. I'm crazy about the music. I think it suits her very well. I think I had good piaffes, good changes. I was particularly happy with the walk. She was very relaxed in the walk and did very well. It doesn't sound interesting to be excited about the walk, but it was a bit of a highlight! I'm glad that she's relaxed enough with the big atmosphere to show a good walk."
Gundersen commented on the great turnout for the event. "I know there were a lot of people. I was very happy to see that because it's the beginning of the season. I'm happy we have so many spectators for a dressage show," she said.
Janne Rumbough of MTICA Farm, the sponsor of the class, noted, "It's wonderful that we have this here. I've been here a long time and seen dressage develop. Look at these riders and these horses. This is what we worked on for so many years. I look at the spectators tonight, and I believe the freestyle is the answer to have people enjoy dressage. What these three people showed today was beautiful. I'm just so pleased and thanks to Mark Bellissimo for doing this."
Bon Chance, imported from Germany, was broke by Roffman herself. With her, he competed in the four, five and six year old US championships, with great success. "He was reserve four year old champion, five year old champion, tied for six year old champion. So yeah, he has had a pretty successful career!" she said with a smile.
Although Bon Chance is a sales horse in her roster, she is more than happy to continue showing him, saying he shows a lot of promise in the ring. "He has a lot of swing, a lot of elasticity, and he's like a metronome when he trots - it's always the same tempo," she described. "He's a funny looking horse on the ground. When people see him he's long, he has a skinny neck and he's just a little bit weird looking. But in the ring he presents himself, I think, in a really good way."
The gelding also offers somewhat of a challenge to Roffman. "He is a little bit of a handful, so you have to take it all in stride. It's his first CDI ever, it's his first international Intermediaire I, and I hope this year he continues to develop and get confident in the ring," she said.
Rider, Country, Horse: Judge E%, Judge H%, Judge C%, Judge M%, Judge B%, Total%