Twenty-seven pairs stepped up to try their talents on the course set by USA's Anthony D'Ambrosio, flying around the U.S. Trust Arena. Gilbertson and the 2007 Danish Warmblood mare owned by Seabrook LLC put in a tight round early in the class that couldn't be bested. Just late enough in the line-up to watch some options ride, GIlbertson explained that the course was suited to her mount's strengths.
"I thought the course was a lot of fun. There were several areas where you could leave out strides and make tight turns, plus really gallop across the ground and Baloppi is really good at that. It definitely worked to my advantage because she is so nice to ride and always right there with you," said Gilbertson. "I didn't go too early, so I did get to see all the numbers ride, and I chose to stick to my original plan once I saw those numbers were there in the options for the leave-outs."
Gilbertson has been in the irons with Baloppi, whom she describes as "a magical unicorn," for more than a year and a half, and has piloted her to much success thus far. "I've definitely won the most on her than I have on anyone else. She's brave, consistent, and no matter what ring she goes into she's always the same, which makes my life really easy. She's also a lot of fun."
While Gilbertson will trade mounts for Saturday's $384,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*, Baloppi has a bright future in the Grand Prix ring and in speed classes, she concluded. "I think she'll jump some two and three-start Grand Prixs in the future, but definitely also more speed classes because she's so good at them. She can kind of do anything, which is nice."