Anna Marek and Fire Fly Earn Chance to Go for It with Win in Grand Prix for Freestyle CDI3*
Friday, November 18, 2022
International dressage competition at the World Equestrian Center – Ocala began again on Thursday, November 17, 2022, with CDI3* competition in the Stadium Arena, offering a fresh venue for horses and riders with stunning atmosphere. The WEC November Dressage CDI3*, sponsored by Hampton Green Farm and Discover Dressage, runs through Sunday, November 20, offering international and national opportunities. Anna Marek (USA) of Dunnellon, Fla., was a two-time winner in CDI3* competition, along with Mikala Münter (USA).
Photo - Anna Marek and Fire Fly top the Grand Prix on their way to Friday night's Grand Prix Freestyle. (Q2 Photography)
Marek closed her day with a win in the Grand Prix for Freestyle CDI3* with Fire Fly, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Briar owned by Janet Simile. They led with a score of 70.152% over Sarah Tubman (USA) and Summit Farm’s First Apple in second place on 69.783% . While Marek has focused on the Special test in the past, including at the September CDI3* at WEC where they won the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special tests, she knew that the freestyle was the goal in November.
Excited for the Freestyle
“I’m so excited for the freestyle,” admitted Marek. “Terri Gallo made it for us, and she did an awesome job. We’re really excited. I actually did it at the last WEC national show to try it out and see how it would work out. I worked out some little kinks from the show, and then I wanted to come here and do it under the lights.”
While Marek noted that Firefly can “be a bit spooky sometimes,” she was pleased with the relaxation he showed in Thursday’s test, which was clean of mistakes.
“There were a couple of things that we can do better,” she said. “He just gets a little tense and wants to do it so badly. He doesn’t want to make a mistake. Throughout the test, he relaxed, and he gave me a really good feeling.”
Marek has only ridden Fire Fly for a year and is getting to know the talented horse. She is excited for what is to come in Friday night’s freestyle.
She noted, “Every single time that we go out, he gets better and better. I’ve watched the freestyle a bajillion times on the practice video. I think that I’m going to go for it. This is my plan right now. I know the marks. Sometimes you get in there and you’re like, ‘Is this where I’m supposed to do it?’ I wanted to put in a really good Grand Prix and get set up for it, and then I can enjoy the rest of the weekend. I was stressed out enough about this test and now I can enjoy and show off a little bit.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of experience with freestyles,” continued Marek. “It’s not always my favorite thing because of following the music, and it’s such a talent to be able to follow the music and ride your horse really well and hit the beats and not make mistakes. It just takes time and practicing it. I love the music to this freestyle, so it makes me excited to ride to it.”
Conquering the Prix St. Georges
Marek was also the winner in the afternoon’s Prix St. Georges CDI3* with Duvel, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding by Florencio owned by Cynthia Davila, with a score of 72.108%. Second place went to Nora Batchelder (USA) on her own Fashion Week with a score of 67.843%.
It was Marek’s first time competing in the Stadium Arena, as last year she had just given birth to her daughter Mae and was only training students at the December 2021 event. “It was awesome to be out here, and it was friendly for the horses,” she said of the welcoming environment.
“I was very happy with Duvel,” she added. “He had a great warmup, and he had a fairly clean test. We had one little mistake in the four-tempis that kind of surprised both Duvel and I because he’s so solid with all of the movements. I think he tripped or something. The rest of the test felt awesome. I was happy to know that he went in there and stayed so relaxed, but I could also turn some power on.”
As Duvel stands 17.3 hands high, it’s a comfortable ride for Marek, who is six feet tall.
“It’s perfect for me!” she said with a smile. “[My coach] Anne [Gribbons] has worked with me for years on him and every time she schools me, she says, ‘This horse fits you just perfectly.’ He feels so comfortable, and I just sit on him perfectly.”
The World Equestrian Center November Dressage CDI3* continues on Friday, November 18, with the Prix St. Georges CDI1* at 9 a.m., followed by the Intermediate I CDI3* at 10:30 a.m, as well as the Grand Prix Special CDI3* at 2:30 p.m. followed by the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3* at 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.wec.net.