Lisa Wilcox and Pikko Del Cerro HU's effortless test impressed judges and earned them the win at today's Wellington Classic Dressage Sunshine Challenge Grand Prix CDI3*. Pikko Del Cerro HU's showy gaits and big extended canter were rewarded with a score of 69.574%. This was the pair's first international competition, and Wilcox said she was "very, very pleased" with the results. According to Wilcox, Pikko Del Cerru HU was "a little hesitant" in front of the crowd. "He's a little bit looky, so I'm the last thing on his mind," she said. "So I have to remind him that I'm up here!" But despite the distractions, he was "very good to ride." David Marcus and Don Kontes produced an expressive passage and floating one-tempis to take second place with 67.532%. Marcus noted that Don Kontes was a little tired after competing last weekend at the Gold Coast Opener CDI-W, but the rider was delighted with his horse's performance, saying, "I couldn't ask for more."
Two horses and riders qualified from the CDI3* to compete at World Dressage Masters (WDM) CDI5* Palm Beach. Mikala Gundersen and My Lady, who finished third with 69.574%, and Cheryl Meisner and Tango, who placed seventh with 64.957%, earned places at WDM based on their performances today and qualifying scores from previous competitions.
Mikala Gundersen and My Lady glided through smooth trot half-passes to earn 67.234%, finishing just behind Marcus and Don Kontes. Gundersen, a native of Denmark, said she was "a little conservative," but she was happy with the ride. "I was very pleased with my horse," Gundersen said. "She was unbelievably brave."
My Lady, who is owned by Janne Rumbough, is a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood mare by Michellino out of a mare by Ritterstern. In March 2012, Gundersen and My Lady scored 71.175% to take second in a Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3* in West Palm Beach. They also earned a score of 70.525% earlier that month for their fifth-placed Grand Prix Freestyle performance at a CDI-W in Loxahatchee.
Cheryl Meisner, who opened the class with a 66.894% for her ride on Paganini, rode a fluid, consistent test later in the day with Tango. Graceful transitions and a very forward half pass highlighted their performance. Meisner described Tango as "really relaxed, very obedient, and happy to do his job."
Tango, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Obelisk x Pollie), competed in the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle at the Gold Coast Opener CDI-W Jan 18-20. At Dressage at Devon CDI-W in 2011, Tango took third in the Grand Prix and fourth in the Grand Prix Special.
Todd Flettrich and Danseur, owned by Margaret Duprey's Cherry Knoll Farm, finished just behind Meisner and Paganini, taking fifth with 66.574%. Their placing today and previous results qualified them to move on to World Dressage Masters, but Flettrich opted not to compete the lightly campaigned Danseur. Today marked Danseur's CDI debut and his third lifetime competition. Flettrich was encouraged by Danseur's potential. "I couldn't be happier," he said. "We have lots of room for improvement, but I'm really delighted."
After their placings today, Gundersen and Meisner join an accomplished group of riders competing at World Dressage Masters. "It was completely unexpected, and I'm really excited to be part of it!" said Meisner.