West Palm Beach, Florida -- The Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge II, held March 6-8 at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, had nearly 50 Prix St. Georges rides, the largest number ever in Wellington Classic Dressage history. "That's probably either a record or close to it," said Noreen O'Sullivan, managing partner of Wellington Classic Dressage. The FEI Prix St. Georges Open competition had 42 entries and the FEI Prix St. Georges USEF High Performance class had another seven entries for a total of 49 Prix St. Georges rides. Texas-based "S" dressage judge Fran Dearing had the job of judging the open Prix St. Georges classes. Because that class was so large, it was split into two.
In Intermediaire competition, Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Dea II continued the winning streak they've had this year on the Florida circuit. In addition to their Prix St. Georges win on opening day of the Challenge II, Bateson-Chandler and Dea II, a nine-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Jane Clark, won the FEI Intermediaire I USEF High Performance competition with a score of 71.754. Bateson-Chandler and the nine-year-old Hanoverian mare also won the CDI Prix St. Georges competition at the recent Palm Beach Dressage Derby.Coming in second in that class was Werner van den Brande riding Filigran 037 to a score of 66.842 percent. Bianca Berktold and Berktold's Marko, who took a Prix St. Georges win on Friday, finished third with a score of 66.579.
Bateson-Chandler had another FEI-level win with Rutherford, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jane Clark. They took blue in the FEI Intermediaire I Freestyle with a score of 72.250. It was Rutherford's first ever freestyle. "We didn't even really practice it, we just went in there and I thought it would either be a disaster or really good," Bateson-Chandler said.
Winner of one of the FEI Prix St. Georges Open classes was Silva Martin riding Prosecco, 10-year-old gelding owned by Michael and Denise Rotko, to a score of 68.421 percent. It was the technical marks that gave Martin the win because tied with her in score was George Williams on Don Bailey. They were given second place. Third place in that class went to Kelley Corrigan and Robinson with a score of 67.632.
Winner of the other FEI Prix St. Georges Open class was Bianca Berktold with Berktold's Marko, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding. They took the win with a score of 71.053 percent. Second went to Mikala Gundersen and Wild Dance with a score of 70.00 and third was Lynda Alicki riding Donates to a score of 69.737 percent.
O'Sullivan said the large number of Prix St. Georges entries seems to indicate that riders have a number of young horses that they are working to bring along to Grand Prix. "And what we are seeing is that it's not just the same horses and riders, but riders bringing along new horses and also there are some new names among the riders."
In the Grand Prix Open competition, the winner was a very familiar pair -- Ashley Holzer and Pop Art. They earned their win with a score of 73.759 percent. Finishing second in the Grand Prix competition was Karen Lipp riding Latino to a score of 66.383. Third place went to Tine Zinglersen and Neumunster with a score of 64.468. "I think he's certainly on track for Las Vegas," Holzer said of the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, who had also been her partner on Canada's 2008 Olympic Dressage Team.
Winner of the FEI Intermediaire I Open competition was Mikala Gundersen and the Horses Unlimited stallion Wild Dance with a score of 70.526. Gundersen called the win "awesome" especially considering that the new FEI Intermediaire I test isn't the easiest for Wild Dance. "He's a big mover and there are some tight turns in that test so it's not that easy for him, but he's rather supple."
Gundersen also had the highest score of the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge II. She rode Horses Unlimited's Pikko del Cerro to a score of 79.200 percent in the FEI Test for Six-Year-Old Horses. The second highest score of the show was earned by Jessica Jo Tate riding Rosentanz, a five-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Jackie Nixon-Fulton, to a 75.20 percent in Sunday's USEF Training Level Test 4. It was a great birthday present for Tate, whose birthday was the day after the show -- March 9.
"It was a super show. I brought four horses and all of them hit scores in the 70s. I had only one score that didn't -- a 69 percent but that was still a win," Tate said. Rosentanz is a five-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Jackie Nixon-Fulton. It was only the second show together for Tate and Rosentanz. "We're really, really thrilled with her," Tate said. "I had the high score of the day on Friday and then she beat that today."
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