Holiday & Horses CDI 3* Dressage Grand Prix at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center

Friday, December 5, 2008

Denmark's Lars Petersen rode his 13-year-old Success to victory in the Holiday & Horses CDI 3* Grand Prix at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Friday. His compatriot, Mikala Munter Gundersen placed third on Leonberg.

Petersen, a former Olympian and longtime rider for Blue Hors, posted a score of 67.125 per cent with the Blue Hors Silvermoon gray gelding offspring despite a little tension. Twelve combinations started the Grand Prix--eight for the freestyle and four for the Grand Prix Special--in perfect South Florida weather of blue skies and sunshine with the temperature reaching a high of 76 degrees (24C).

Catherine Morelli on Be Se finished second with 65.708 per cent and Mikala Munter Gundersen, who also now lives in Wellington, and Leonberg, with 64.167 per cent for third place.
photo: Susan J Stickle
They will perform Saturday night in the musical freestyle in the International Arena under lights. Petersen bought Success as a foal in Denmark and then brought him with him when he returned to live permanently in the U.S. almost seven years ago. He lives and trains in the Wellington area. Despite some earlier hoof problems, Petersen says they have been solved and he has been showing the 16.3-hand gelding consistently for the past 18 months.

Petersen, 43, said his goal is to qualify for the FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas next April. To that end, the pair won World Cup qualifiers at Saugerties, N.Y. and Devon, Penn. The pair scored high enough for qualification in 2008, but he would have had to go to Europe for an extended period."I felt it was more important for me to stay here and take care of my customers," he said.

Because of the balmy tropical weather, the South Florida circuit is at its peak during winter. For this winter, for example, there are six CDIs in Palm Beach from the beginning of December through to mid-March, including three World Cup qualifiers and the $125,000 CDI 5* World Dressage Masters.

However, to qualify he must finish high enough in the North American League that includes some tough contenders, including the USA's Steffen Peters and Ravel and Canada's Ashley Holzer and Pop Art.