It was the last three riders in the Grand Prix CDIW, presented by U.S. Trust & Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who filled the top three spots, making it an all-female, all-American podium in the highlight class of the opening day of action of during week eight of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.
Laura Graves and the 16-year-old gelding Verdades emerged victorious with over 78%, despite a blip in the one-time changes that was rewarded with fours and fives from the five-strong panel of judges. The pair is ranked fourth in the world and, in 2016, were instrumental players in bringing home the team bronze medal from the Rio Olympics.
Adrienne Lyle finished second with a convincing, mistake-free ride on Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s Sandro Hit stallion Salvino for 74.457%, with Chase Hickok and Sagacious HF filling third with 69.5%.
“Nothing went wrong that I can’t take the blame for,” said Graves, 30, who was riding in sweltering Florida temperatures and claimed her fifth consecutive victory. “I was super, super happy with how he went in this heat; we had a hot show at the five-star show also and it’s nice to know — looking ahead to the World Games in Tryon — that our horses are fit in this weather. And he [Verdades] is super fit. He came out sweaty and breathing, but not even a hint of feeling like he was out of steam.”
On the contrary, ‘Diddy’ finished the test’s final center line with his customary power and enthusiasm, snorting and powering into the final halt.
“Kasey Perry [who was also on the team at the Rio Olympics] is helping me this week as I’m groom-less, and her husband Dana actually calls him ‘Diddy Dino’,” added Graves, who is seeking FEI World Cup final qualification through these performances.
“With a horse with as much experience as he has — now in his fourth year of grand prix — we’re looking at our path to Tryon a little differently than perhaps some of the others are,” said Graves. “I don’t want to have to show him a lot, so I’m going to try to be where I have the toughest competition, and that looks like the World Cup Final and probably Aachen, where we get to go head-to-head with some of the other top five in the world. We want to know where we stand going into North Carolina.”
Graves credited the horse’s workmanlike attitude with his ongoing ability to perform at the top.
“He’s so ambitious you think that it would be in his nature to try to predict the movements now he knows the test so well, but he’s so respectful when you’re riding that he waits — he waits all the time,” added Graves, who owns the horse with her partner Curt Maes. “And if he waits too long and you have to make a little correction, he feels guilty for a week. He’s very smart like that. He doesn’t want to rush and I get the feeling that he really likes it. He lets me ride every step still; it’s rather amazing.”
In the Grand Prix CDI3*, presented by Peacock Ridge, the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz replicated her wins last month on the 13-year-old Belgian warmblood Foco Loco W.
In a class of 20, Losos de Muñiz scored 71.13% to take the blue ribbon, leading an all-female podium. Canada’s Belinda Trussell — last to go on her own Tattoo 15 — filled second place with 70.022%, with the USA’s Katherine Bateson Chandler finishing third on Jane Forbes-Clark’s Alcazar (69.283%).
This was Losos de Muñiz and Foco Loco W’s best grand prix score to date, and follows hot on the heels of their double win in week five of the 2018 AGDF.