World Class Rides for Saturday’s Evening of Musical Freestyles

The Grandstand arena was packed with enthusiastic spectators for Saturday’s Evening of Musical Freestyles which opened with Phantom’s Music of the Night and the National Anthem sung by Mercedes Martin-Raya. Sabine Schut-Kery provided equine entertainment between the classes riding lovely Friesian horses: first in an elegant sidesaddle exhibition and later in a freestyle ridden without obvious rein aides. The highlight of the program was to come last, a Grand Prix Freestyle with Debbie McDonald and Brentina. The crowd buzzed with anticipation and enjoyed the preceding rides as well.

Riders who travel a distance won the top three places in the $1000 FEI Freestyle of Choice. Shannon Dahmer from Rifle, CO won with her Najinska for an Intermediere I freestyle performance scoring a 67%. Jennifer Schrader-Williams from the state of Washington placed second on Quarteto de Top for a Grand Prix freestyle and a score of 65%, and Heidi Gaian from Fresno placed third with a 64.25 % Grand Prix freestyle on her Katharos.

The crowd cheered each horse rider team on as they performed creative choreographies for the $5000 CDI Grand Prix Freestyle. Leslie Morse debuted her fifteen and a half year old stallion, Kingston, after a four year hiatus from the Del Mar National winning third place in the class with an impressive 70.2%. This repeats her placing in the CDI Grand Prix class where she scored a 68.292%. When asked about how she felt about the evening ride, Morse said, “It was a blast. When he heard the crowd chanting his name, and the cheers for his first extension, he was so proud. I was merely a passenger; he took me through the ride. He had no tension, just pride.” Kingston is back from a two year lay-up for a tendon injury, and Leslie is grateful for a strong support system that worked to rehabilitate the horse as his fitness comes first.

Akiko Yamasaki’s Lombardi 11 and Steffen Peters also repeated his placing in the CDI Grand Prix and placed second in the CDI GP freestyle as well with a 70.5%. The pair’s polished ride to Irish music showed Lombardi’s experience and Steffen’s remarkable skill. Steffen has three horses in contention for the Selection trials: Ravel, Prince and Lombardi 11. Even if all three qualify, he is only allowed to take two. Lombardi’s experience in international competition and at the Grand Prix level makes him a strong choice for the Trials.

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