Wellington, Fla. – March 29, 2019 – In the final Friday freestyle of the 2019 Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), U.S. rider Ashley Holzer and Havanna 145 wowed both the crowd and the judges in the CDI 3* Grand Prix Freestyle that kicked off the evening. Holzer racked up the points to earn a total score of 76.995 percent with her difficult choreography produced by Tom Hunt.
Holzer and Havanna 145, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Diane Fellows, had been absent from the show ring following their last outing in Aachen, Germany last July, but returned in the twelfth week of the AGDF strong with a new freestyle and renewed motivation. They earned consistently high scores for their piaffe and passage work throughout the test, as well as pirouettes. The difficulty of their freestyle was given four scores over 9 by four of the five judges, with one score of 9.8 being given. With more time to practice and get comfortable in their new freestyle choreography, Holzer expressed her confidence in the potential for them to score even higher with it in the future.
Riding into second place was Heather Blitz and Semper Fidelis, a 13-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Rowan O’Riley. Previously ridden by Catherine Haddad-Staller, Semper Fidelis competed at several venues in Europe in 2017 before taking a year’s break from international competition. Blitz began competing Semper Fidelis at the beginning of the AGDF this year, and the pair finished the season out strong with a personal best score of 76.705 percent in their freestyle.
Anna Marek and Dee Clair, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Diane Morrison, were the last to compete and finished in third place with a score of 71.65 percent. Marek and Dee Clair have been competing in CDIs in Wellington together since 2017, and also received a personal best score to close out the season.
Competition in Week 12 of the AGDF will continue Saturday, March 30, at Young Rider Individual Test at 8 a.m.
Results: CDI 3* Grand Prix Freestyle
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Total Score
1. Ashley Holzer / USA / Havanna 145 / 76.995
2. Heather Blitz / USA / Semper Fidelis / 76.705
3. Anna Marek / USA / Dee Clair / 71.65
4. Stacy Parvey-Larsson / USA / Benidetto / 69.075
5. Nicole Harrington / USA / Wizard of Oz / 66.44
6. Franziska Seidl / SUI / Romano K / 65.275
7. Jacqueline MacDonald Cuddy / USA / Malcarat / 65.145
8. Heather Boo / USA / Divertimento / 63.715
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Ashley Holzer – CDI 3* Grand Prix Freestyle first place
On Havanna 145:
“I was honestly a little bit concerned because she was very hot. I have been coming out in the mornings when it is really early with some anticipation of her being a little worried with the crowd because she has not done this in a long time. She was hot but we got through it and the degree of difficulty is extremely hard. I just kept saying ‘come on mare, work with me,’ and she kept trying her best so I was thrilled. It is a big atmosphere and they need to learn how to cope so I have been here in the mornings very early! I am very happy that she was able to settle at the end and she felt really good so that was exciting.”
On her test:
“At the end she started to really settle with the Havana music and she came to that last piaffe and really sat down and started to swing in her back. It was nice because she had been worried up at the top there before so that felt nice for me. The passage half-pass felt nice for me. Even when she is tense I still feel that she is trying to deal with the atmosphere and that is really all I can ask of a young horse.”
On her horse:
“I keep having to think that she is only 12 and has not had that much time. You are up against 16, 17 and 18-year-old horses that are really seasoned competitors out there that know their job and she can be hot. When I first got her she was not hot and I used to wish she was hot. Diane said to me ‘Be careful what you wish for!’ and now she is hot!”
On her win:
“This mare is incredibly talented. We had a really bad go and some medical problems after Aachen, and this is the first time she has come back from some of the medical problems that she has had. I really wanted to go a little easier. I was hoping to get her out earlier in the season but again she just wasn’t really ready and I didn’t want to push it. I am happy I did it. My husband said something that was great, ‘It is a nice ending to a new beginning.’ That is exactly what it was. The season ended unfortunately but it has given her a new beginning and I think I can really work from here and go places. She is showing me that she is much stronger and fitter than I really thought she was.”
On her music and choreography:
“Tom Hunt did the music and the choreography. He is the same person that does Charlotte Dujardin’s. I have always used Tamara from Kurboom. She has done most of my kurs and I love them. Diane Fellows really wanted to have something made for Havana with the Havana music and Tamara had actually given it a go but it is a really hard piece of music to do for a freestyle and Tom was able to pull it off. I am really happy with it, I think it suits her. I have to ride it a few more times but I think once it is finally settled and put together it is a really nice freestyle. This is the first time riding it. I did it last week, Robert came over and watched me go through it in schooling, but I can’t recreate the lights or any of this. It is one of those kurs that is technically tricky because you have to be right on the music. If you start to veer away it is going to be really obvious that you are not on the music, so the timing of everything has to be pretty lickitysplit. It is just going to take a little bit of time, but I think this freestyle has a potential to score extremely high when she is settled and a bit more relaxed with the atmosphere.”
On her plans for the rest of the year:
“I would love to go to Europe. As much as I love this venue, the one challenge I have is that we have the same venue day in and day out with each show. We really need to expose our horses to more venues. I think it is really important, especially with young horses, to go to different venues and make sure that you know how much to warm up or not to warm up and how to deal with another venue. That is what I would really love to do, that would be my dream. I love the horse shows over there, they are great to go to.”