With the temperature hovering around a blustery 40 degrees, and the persistent rain showers falling, day one of the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge I was truly a challenge for horses and riders alike. However, despite the weather, many riders pulled through with impressive scores. Among the winners was Shawna Harding, who had a clean sweep Saturday, winning her Grand Prix class on Come On III with a 69.787%, and the FEI Test of Choice class with Rigo where she won with 72% in the Developing Horse Test. Harding also took the high score award for Saturday with her 72% in the FEI TOC on Rigo, a nine-year old Hanoverian gelding by Rotspon out of Winnepeg owned by Tonya Rowe.
“I was very pleased with Come On’s Grand Prix,” Harding said. Come On III is an 11 year-old Danish Warmblood gelding by Come Back II out of Canna, owned by Shawna Harding. As for the weather, Harding said she and her horses knew it was coming, and were prepared. “What we had on Saturday was summertime in Denmark,” Harding said, laughing. Harding believes that although the weather this past weekend was not ideal, riders should enter the show and prepare for such conditions accordingly. Luckily, she did, and it truly paid off. As for her ride on Rigo, Harding said, “I’m really thrilled with this horse…. Saturday was his first time at this test.” Harding was also pleased with Rigo’s ability to cope with the weather conditions. “Despite a layer of ice in the warm up, he handled himself phenomenally,” Harding said.
Arlene "Tuny" Page, Christopher Schruefer, and Melissa Jackson were also amongst the best for the FEI divisions Saturday. Page, riding Alina, took the blue ribbon in the Intermediare II class with a score of 65. 526%. Overall, she had a solid ride with beautiful extended trots and correct pirouettes.
Not all riders were lucky enough to ride in Ring 1 in the covered arena, but rather were forced to brave the weather in Ring 2. Despite the conditions, Schruefer, riding Cocktail’s Olymp, won the Prix St. George class with an impressive 70%. Melissa Jackson took the second Grand Prix class Saturday with a 65.957% atop Wellington. Her ride showed fantastic suspension in the passage, clean transitions, and deliberate accuracy.
As for the Adult Amateur division, Krystalann Shingler riding Tividor got the highest score for an AA on Saturday, scoring a 69.4745% in her Prix St. George class, coming in second place to Schruefer. Shingler who was the winner of last year's Markel/Wellington Classic Dressage Amateur Challenge is off and running again this year.
Day two of the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge I looked more promising weather wise, as the rain showers moved out of the Wellington area. The cold front however, did not. With highs barely reaching 50 degrees by 2pm, and winds gusting up to 25 mph, Sunday too brought its share of weather challenges. Between the flapping of banners and gusting winds, many of the horses had extra energy and spookiness in them on Sunday. However, none of the riders would complain, but rather, were simply grateful that the rain had passed.
Another success this weekend was by Cheryl Meisner who earned her best personal score at the Grand Prix Sunday, scoring a whopping 69.3625% atop Paganini in the FEI Grand Prix special. Paganini is a 13-year-old KWPN stallion by Havidoff out of a Statuar mare. Meisner was very happy with her ride. “My horse felt great today. We did less of a warm up in the cold weather and I took him in a bit more fresh than I usually would but I trusted Robert's judgment that we were ready and it worked out great,” she said. The highlights of Meisner’s test were the passage and piaffe. “I was also very happy with the trot half passes,” Meisner said.
Meisner trains with Olympian Robert Dover, who has helped her improve her riding immensely. “Working with Robert has been great… he is demanding but at the same time positive which is motivational and ends up making the quality of the everyday work better and better,” Meisner said. “I have been working this past week with both Robert and Bert together for the first time and it was very productive. I am lucky to have two amazing trainers in my corner.” Dover was also pleased with Cheryl’s ride, and looks forward to their bright future together. “I congratulate Cheryl and owner, John Risleys. Cheryl did a super job and the best thing is there are still many points to be made by her and Pagi,” said Dover.
Kassie Barteau’s debuted on Be Sé in the FEI National Young Adult Brentina Cup class, which she won with a score of 66.928%, and the Grand Prix Freestyle Class won by Susan Jaccoma with a score of 71.750%. Barteau’s ride showed lots of class and poise, excellent extended trots, and a couple of impressive passage sets.
Be Sé, an 18-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Flemmingh out of Wabatsje, owned by Diane Rosenberg, is Kassie’s prospect Brentina Cup horse. She thought that her ride Sunday was an important step in getting to know this fabulous gelding. “Be Sé felt much improved from Saturday. This is my first show with him and I am just learning all of his buttons,” she said. Kassie also said she is learning a lot through making mistakes. Also, Barteau is thankful to be a working student for Cathy Morelli, whom she calls her idol and mentor.
Barteau cleaned up Sunday, also scoring a 74.8% in the FEI Young Horse TOC in the FEI 6 Year Old Test atop GP Superstar Crusader. GP Superstar Crusader is a 6 year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Virginia Frantz. Barteau’s felt like the lead changes and the medium gaits were the highlights of the ride.
Sue Jaccoma’s freestyle was also quite impressive, featuring a fabulous zigzag passage, beautiful extended trots, incredibly matched rhythm to the music, and practically perfect one tempis. Jaccoma’s ride looked effortless, and was one of the most graceful rides of the entire show. Her horse, Wadamur, made every movement look easy, from the half passes to the piaffe and passage. Wadamur is a 10 year-old bay Hanoverian gelding by Sandro out of Weltmeyer owned by Susan Jaccoma. “I was very happy with my rides this weekend!” Jaccoma said. The weather was terrible, but the footing held up and it always nice to ride in the covered arena!” As for her freestyle, she went into the ring with confidence. “When the music started for my freestyle, I felt him almost say, "Got it Sue, let's have some fun!"” Jaccoma, who trains with Lars Peterson, is pleased that the program they are using for Wadamur is a successful one.Shawna Harding recognized all of the incredible effort put into making these shows happen. She said, “Thanks, as always to Monica Fitzgerald and Noreen O’Sullivan for putting up a great show, despite the weather.” And to all others involved, thank you.
Many riders used this show as a warm up for the Gold Coast Opener CDIW-Y, which runs from January 22-24. Overall, despite the record-breaking weather, it was a successful weekend. Look forward to more coverage On the Scene in Wellington, 2010.
Results: [#24767 override="Wellington Classic Challenge I" title="Wellington Classic Challenge I"]