Lexington, KY - The Deloitte U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team comprised of Michele Bandinu (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Katie Jackson (Austin, Texas), Margaret McIntosh (Reading, Pa.), and Roxanne Trunnell (Rowlett, Texas) stepped into 2018 with an impressive performance at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival CPEDI3*.
With a total team score of 420.622, the team completed their FEI Team Test on Friday, January 5, and their FEI Individual Championship Test on Saturday, January 6. These tests determined the final team placing. Chef d'Equipe and National Advisor Kai Handt led the team in their opening competition of the year.
"The Deloitte U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team had an excellent showing thanks to our sponsors, US Equestrian, USPEA, Adequan, Deloitte, Mission Control, and Rowan O'Reilly," said Handt. "The team has been improving their scores all week, and finished with 60% of the riders above 70% by Sunday. We have great expectations for our team and trainers in 2018. In the last six months, we have seen a tremendous improvement from our team, which has more than tripled in participation and size over the last three years."
Friday's FEI Team Test counted for 50% of the team's overall score and saw first-place performances by 2016 Paralympian McIntosh and her 14-year-old Danish Warmblood mare Heros in Grade I, as well as from Jackson and her, Julia Handt, and Rachel Zent's 12-year-old Westphalian gelding Royal Dancer in Grade V. McIntosh earned a 73.750%, while Jackson earned a 69.070%.
Bandinu and Soulman 13 were awarded a 68.000% to put him and his eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding in third place in Grade IV. 2016 Paralympian Trunnell and her 16-year-old Westphalian mare NTEC Daytona Beach placed sixth in Grade I with 67.679%.
Saturday started with the Grade I FEI Individual Championship Test, which completed the final 50% of the score contributing to the U.S. team's top finish. With consistent execution, McIntosh and Heros held onto their lead and contributed largely to the team's final placing, with a 72.381%. Trunnell and NTEC Daytona Beach improved upon their Team Test performance, moving up to fourth in the Individual Championship Test with a 67.738%.
Meanwhile, in the Grade IV Individual Championship Test, Bandinu and Soulman 13 maintained third place with a solid ride, finishing on a 66.492%. Jackson and Royal Dancer improved their score and rounded out the U.S. team's score in Grade V with yet another first place and a 69.683%.
With a top finish in the team competition, the Deloitte U.S. Para-Equestrian Team went on to compete in Sunday's Freestyle Tests, with the Grade V competing first. Jackson and Royal Dancer finished in the top position with a 71.075%. Bandinu and Soulman 13 finished second in Grade IV with a 72.408%. Finally, in Grade I, McIntosh and Heros swept the competition yet again, with a top finish and a 76.267%. Trunnell and NTEC Daytona Beach finished fourth with a 70.144%.
"We are looking forward to an exciting show season for 2018," said Handt. "We are seeing that the application of online test judging and intense training seminars at our Para-Equestrian Centers of Excellence and at CPEDI's, is really getting our trainers on the right track and improving results for the upcoming season. We are looking to be a solid contender team by the end of the qualifying period for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, which requires fine-tuning at our upcoming training sessions. Our para-dressage sport is growing rapidly with a large group of U25 riders, juniors, and young riders attracted to the sport. We are supporting a strong base of experienced and upcoming competitors. 2018 is going to be a good year."
Watch the US Equestrian Learning Center video to learn more about para-equestrian dressage.