Hickstead, England-The U.S. Dressage Team got off to a strong start at the Hickstead CDIO3* as riders scored top results in Grand Prix and Small Tour competition. Forty-six combinations performed the FEI Grand Prix Test, with the first half of the field performing their tests on Thursday and the remaining 23 riding on Friday. In the Small Tour, competitors performed the FEI Prix St. Georges Test on Thursday before returning to the International Arena on Friday for the Intermediaire I Test. The U.S. was represented by five talented combinations in Grand Prix competition, with three finishing in the top ten. Olympic and FEI World Equestrian Games veteran Guenter Seidel (Cardiff, CA) led the way for the United States with the promising Coral Reef Wylea finishing on a score of 73.043%. Coral Reef Ranch's 13-year-old Westphalian mare finished in third place behind Great Britain's Gold medal-winning teammates from the 2012 London Olympic Games Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro and Carl Hester and Uthopia.
Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea are one of 10 combinations to receive USET Foundation funded USEF Grants to compete and train in Europe in 2013. "This is why we are here, for riders to get experience and improve. It has been great for all the riders here who received grant funding," said Seidel. "I would like to thank Coral Reef Farm owner Gwendolyn Meyer. We have had great team spirit and a super support team and thanks to Klaus Balkenhol and Robert Dover."
Finishing just four places behind Seidel in seventh was Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, FL) and Patricia Stempel's 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding Doktor. The pair, which has spent much of the summer training and competing in Europe thanks to a USEF Grant, showed their improvement scoring 71.191%.
Another USEF Grant recipient, Kathleen Raine (Murrieta, CA) completed the FEI Grand Prix Test on Thursday with Jennifer Mason, David Wightman, and her own 13-year-old Hanoverian mare Breanna. The Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Program graduate scored 70.404% to finish in ninth place at the conclusion of competition Friday.
Arlene "Tuny" Page and her 15-year-old Danish Warmblood mare Alina, were another U.S. combination to slot into the top 15 with a score of 69.723%. The veteran pair finished the FEI Grand Prix Test in 14th place.
Seidel, Francis, Raine, and Page will compete for the U.S. in Sunday's FEI Nations Cup as the U.S. looks to secure a top team finish in the competition which will be determined by the Freestyle.
Riding as an individual David Blake (Encinitas, CA) scored 67.043% with Melanie Pai's 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Ikaros. The combination finished in the 30th place. Blake and Ikaros also were awarded a USEF Grant to compete in Europe.
In Hickstead's Small Tour competition, the United States was being represented by two up-and-coming combinations. In Thursday's FEI Prix St. Georges Test, Katherine Bateson-Chandler (Wellington, FL) and Jane Clark's eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Alcazar finished in fifth place after scoring 69.711%. They returned Friday to score 64.842% and finish in 25th place in the FEI Intermediaire I Test. Francis was also competing on the Small Tour with another talented horse of Stempel's, the nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding Danilo. On Thursday, the combinations scored 68.868% to finish in 11th place and returned Friday with an improved effort finishing in third place on a score of 70.658%.
To learn more about the Hickstead CDIO3* visit; http://www.dressageathickstead.com/