The first “Friday Night Stars” evening freestyle of the 2022 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, Florida, did not disappoint. The highlight class of week one, the FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Lövsta Stuteri, produced top-drawer dressage, personal bests galore, and a winning score of over 81%. AGDF, which hosts seven weeks of CDI competition, runs through April 3.
The 34-year-old German rider Frederic Wandres pulled off another powerful, supple, and enchanting performance for 81.065% aboard Elena Knyaginicheva and Sergey Knyaginichev’s 12-year-old Bordeaux gelding Bluetooth OLD, who only started international grand prix in the spring of 2021.
As in the previous day’s World Cup™ Grand Prix, Anna Buffini (USA) rode her own FRH Davinia La Douce, by Don Frederico, into second place, and Ashley Holzer (USA) finished third on Dr. Diane Fellows’s Hochadel mare Havanna 145 (77.25%).
“I felt super tonight,” said Wandres, who also topped the Grand Prix and whose freestyle was made by Michael Erdmann. “My best score was 79% in Aachen in the four-star CDI, but today 81% is really something fantastic and incredible.
“Bluetooth is still a little bit green here and there, but he has still not had 10 international grands prix on his board, so he’s a young one. I’m super happy that he’s in that atmosphere and really delivering that kind of super results.”
Buffini, who is only in her second year of grand prix, logged a personal best of 78.485%, with one judge awarding over 80%. Buffini sings her own lyrics on her freestyle music.
“I really came into this season with not a lot of expectations, and I still haven’t had the mare long,” she said. “We upped our degree of difficulty to 10 a few weeks ago because we knew we needed to be harder, and to come out here and do what she did was incredible.”
Marie Medosi and Taylor Kade, who made Steffen Peters’ music for “Rave Horse” that went viral during the Tokyo Olympics, did Buffini’s music, and she created the choreography with her trainer Guenter Seidel.
The 27-year-old praised FRH Davinia La Douce, saying: “She’s so expressive when she clocks out her passage, and she goes in those extended canters. She’s not a huge mare, she’s not the biggest-moving mare, and she gives absolutely everything she can every single time.”
Ashley Holzer, 58, controlled Havanna 145’s energy admirably to finish third.
“She’s very lit up by the atmosphere, but I think it speaks volumes to the fact that she went in the ring and tried her heart out,” said Holzer, who competed for Canada at four Olympics before switching her nationality.
“The only mistake she made was completely my mistake, trying a little too much. She’s just showing me this year how much she’s trying, and to feel your horse try that hard — especially when they’re feeling the tension of the spectators — speaks volumes,” added Holzer, who rode to a Tom Hunt compilation based on the song “Havana” by Camila Cabello.
Source: press release