Tina Konyot Continues to Conquer Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions

Saturday, August 14, 2010
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Tina Konyot and Calecto V (Photo SusanJStickle.com)
Tina Konyot and Calecto V (Photo SusanJStickle.com)
Gladstone, NJ - Tina Konyot (Palm Beach City, FL) had a lock on the National Grand Prix Dressage Championship over the first weekend, winning both the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special handily. She made it very clear in the Grand Prix on Friday of the second weekend that she wasn't going to give up her top spot without a fight.

Her score of 71.319% with her beloved Calecto V was a reward from another consistent performance for the pair who has been winning consistently up and down the East Coast of the United States. A couple of small mistakes couldn't mar an otherwise impressive performance.

"I'm so happy to be back again," said Konyot at the press conference. "He was there for me. The extended trot was not so good, but I was happy with the passage tour, it was quite even and very, very nice, the piaffe wasn't at its best."

Konyot and the 12-year-old Danish Warmblood recently returned from Aachen and have had a very busy summer working toward selection for the US Dressage Team for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

"I didn't ride enough," said Konyot. "He was feeling fresh and good - I can't say he felt tired... I can't believe we're here."

Despite winning at every turn, Konyot knows that in order to keep winning she has to continue to improve.

"I know I can get a better score," said Konyot. "I can do better transitions. Two piaffes were a little weak, the pirouette is getting better. Overall it is a work in progress for all of us. Calecto and I have had one year at Grand Prix so we are a work in progress. We can make it better."

Even with room for improvement, this win gives Konyot a clear lead going into the fourth and final portion of the National Grand Prix Dressage Championship - the freestyle.

Todd Flettrich (Royal Palm Beach, FL) found himself in the runner-up spot after a very dynamic performance with Cherry Knoll Farm's Otto. They scored 69.787% for a test that had beautiful piaffe and passage work. Their scores after three days leave them third, and Flettrich was pleased with the progress his horse has made.

"It meant more to me to do better," said Flettrich. "I still think we have room for improvement. It's been a hard week. I was very happy but there is room for improvement. For him (like Calecto) he's almost done four weekends in a row: Aachen, then quarantine then here for two weeks."

Otto seemed ready to go to work, despite his busy schedule and had some of his best work of the year in this test. But Flettrich, like a number of other riders in Friday's Grand Prix made a mistake in the changes.

"I don't usually make mistakes in the changes, and I made a mistake in the twos," he said.

Flettrich was thrilled with Otto's pirouettes, something that isn't always the highlight of his work: but he can always rely on his piaffe and passage, which received praise from judge Janet Foy.

Pierre St. Jacques (Anthony, FL) rounded out the top three with a polished effort on Lucky Tiger. Lucky Tiger, a 15-year-old Danish Warmblood was determined and accurate and the pair scored 69.208%.

St. Jacques has dramatically improved the quirky horse and has produced him into a top Grand Prix horse.

"It was one of his best tests," said St. Jacques. "He is so reliable, so happy doing his job. I was having a blast in the test."

It has been two rigorous weekends of competition but the top horses have really risen to the challenge.

"The horses are a little more on edge," said St. Jacques. "They know it's important and they know their jobs. I've been doing what I've been doing all along."

For St. Jacques, who now lies fifth in the overall standings, all the work is paying off.

The scores are cumulative over the four classes. The two Grand Prix count for 30% each of the total score, the Special counts for 25% and the Freestyle on Sunday counts for 15%.

Pestana Keeps the Winning Streak Alive in the National Junior Dressage Championship

Jamie Pestana and Winzalot (Photo SusanJStickle.com)
Jamie Pestana and Winzalot (Photo SusanJStickle.com)
The second weekend of the 2010 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions kicked off at the USET Foundation Headquarters in Gladstone, NJ with the National Junior Dressage Championship.

Twelve juniors contested the FEI Junior Team Test and after a morning of dressage under glorious conditions, three 'California Girls' (as they dubbed themselves) took the top three places. Led by Jamie Pestana (Livermore, CA) and Winzalot with a score of 68.5%, all of the top three have been on quite an adventure. They left the West Coast for the 2010 Adequan FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North three weeks ago in Lexington, KY, and traveled directly from that event to Gladstone to prepare for the Festival.

Pestana coaxed a winning performance out of Winzalot despite the six-year-old Hanoverian gelding not feeling his most agreeable.

"He was actually not on his best behavior," said Pestana. "There were a couple of mistakes but the parts he did do he did well."

Pestana said that the trip from Kentucky to Gladstone seemed to have resulted in some body soreness for Winzalot, and he has spent the week in Gladstone getting massage and chiropractor work.

"He wasn't off but he didn't feel one hundred percent. He does usually have a great work ethic," said Pestana. "We've been giving him lots of pampering."

Winzalot seemed to be back to his old self with some extra work, and Pestana looks to continue her winning sweep in the second half of the National Junior Dressage Championship on Saturday. The pair picked up two Individual Gold medals at NAJYRC - she and Winzalot have been chalking up wins across the country in 2010.

Catherine Chamberlain (Chandler, AZ) and Verdicci were just off the pace with a score of 68.486% - and although Chamberlin lives in Arizona, she feels adopted by California because she has spends so much time there competing.

"I think we have some really good riders out there," said Chamberlain. "Riders like Steffen Peters - we're being inspired. We get to have clinicians with some of the top riders which is really motivating."

Chamberlain and her eight-year-old Dutch gelding won the Individual Silver Medal at NAJYRC behind Pestana so the competition between these riders has spanned the country, especially considering Chamberlain and third place finisher Genay Vaughn (Individual Bronze medalist at NAJYRC) were tied following the Team Test. The tie was broken on the basis of the collective marks where Chamberlain prevailed.

"It's really great that we can continue the success," said Chamberlain.

Genay Vaughn (Elk Grove, CA) and Waranja, a 14-year-old Hanoverian mare, put in a steady and
accurate effort to continue their top placings throughout the summer tour. Vaughn was third in this championship in 2009 and would like to improve on that position in 2010. Teammates with Pestana on the Silver medal-winning team at NAJYRC, the riders have spent a lot of time together over the last month.

"We just wanted to come here and do our best," said Vaughn.

The Junior Team Test features flying changes, canter half pass and walk pirouettes - and in the afternoon the Juniors turned the newly renovated Dick and Jane Brown Arena over to the Grand Prix riders vying for selection to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.