Devon, Penn. – The crowd-pleasing Winyamaro didn’t disappoint at Dressage at Devon’s popular Saturday evening Grand Prix Freestyle. The 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, sired by Walt Disney I and out of Taiga, won the blue ribbon and the crowd with the help of rider and owner Catherine Haddad. This is a duo that clearly marches to its own beat. Haddad competed in a silky brown top hat donated to her by L’Hiver and a brown topcoat, while Winyamaro sported an unbraided forelock, which judge Gary Rockwell rather liked. “The forelock is very appealing,” he said. “He comes down centerline with such action in those legs and then there’s just something about that white face and the bangs. He just looks wild, it’s great,” Rockwell said.
Haddad and Winyamaro earned their win with a score of 74.250. Placing second was Rachmaninoff, owned and ridden by Joe Sandven, with a score of 70.80. Rachmaninoff is a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding sired by Rubenstein I and out of Gloriette.
For Haddad, it was an important win because she lives in Germany and must compete in the Western European league against many of the world’s best to earn a spot to next year’s Dressage World Cup. “This win earned me 20 points,” she said of her freestyle victory. She rode her freestyle to music from the album Fun House by the artist Pink. This was Haddad’s first trip to Devon and she loved it. “I never had so much fun riding at a horse show,” she said.
Taking the win in the Grand Prix Special on Saturday evening was the pair of Come On III and Shawna Harding. Come On III, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding sired by Come Back II and out of Canna, scored a 68.292. Second place went to Devon L, a 10-year-old Hanoverian (De Niro x Wolkenstein II), owned by Leatherdale Farms and ridden by Canadian Diane Creech, with a score of 63.833.
Harding said she was very pleased with her freestyle ride. “He really stepped up to the plate. He was nervous being under those lights and in this atmosphere. He’s getting more and more confident, but he still has room to grow.” When asked if Come On III was an Olympic quality horse, Rockwell said, “absolutely.”
The crowd might have been a bit thinner, but the popular Dressage at Devon Grand Prix evening was still a hit. The event, celebrating its 35th anniversary, weathered the rain storms of past days that led classes to be postponed. The event also fared well against competition from the 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games that pulled away some top horse and rider pairs.
A good many dressage fans may have opted to attend the dressage at WEG rather than Devon, but the long lines at the restroom and the food court made clear that Devon’s Saturday evening Grand Prix Freestyle still pulled them in. And what a night it turned out to be – an enthusiastic crowd, good horses and riders, fun exhibitions, affordable food and drink and picture perfect fall weather. Entertaining the crowd during a gap between the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle was the New Castle Mounted Police Unit, with a bit of help from enthusiastic spectators. They played the role of a crowd of hooligans in need of control, which gave the mounted unit the chance to show how they use horses to control an unruly crowd.
Devon, which combines a top-notch breed show and CDI and held this year from Sept. 28 through Oct. 3, is one of America’s most prestigious dressage competitions. This year’s event was particularly popular with Canadian competitors, large numbers of which filled the classes.
Breed competitors deserve special credit for pushing on through Thursday’s pouring rain. On Friday, competition was delayed an hour in the morning due to storms, but by Friday evening skies had cleared. And when competition kicked off on Saturday morning, it was clear that all the expense for new footing in the Dixon Oval ring was well worth the investment. By Saturday morning, there was no sign that water had ever stood in the main ring.
Competition continues today with more freestyle action from young riders and Intermediaire horses and riders.