Wellington, Fla. – March 17, 2017 – After a tragic end to their European competition season at the Aachen CDIO when Alcazar underwent colic surgery, Katherine Bateson-Chandler’s dream of qualifying for the Rio Olympic Games was swept aside. Little did she know that the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jane Forbes Clark would not only be heading down the centerline, but winning a CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle in less than a year.
“It was a five-hour surgery — it was quite serious and they didn’t give him much of a chance,” Bateson-Chandler explained. “We were so blessed to be in the right place with incredible surgeons in Germany. To be honest, he had the surgery and never really looked back. He was off for three months, we tried to do everything to the letter, and he has come back almost better than ever. For him to be back not long after his surgery, and winning something here at this amazing horse show is pretty thrilling!”
Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar claimed first place in the CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle under the lights in the tenth week of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, earning a score of 73.325 percent with their dance to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars.
“It was an amazing feeling in the ring,” she continued. “Probably the best feeling he’s ever given me in the arena. I was determined not to make mistakes in my changes, which I succeeded at and was most thrilled with. He tried super hard for me. It means a lot because we’ve been through so much in the last year and it was really special.”
Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar hold the reserve spot in the U.S. team for next week’s Stillpoint Farm’s Nations Cup CDIO3*. Over the summer, she plans on staying in England to train with Carl Hester as much as possible.
Coming into second place with a 72.95 percent was Shelly Francis and Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding. The duo has been working on improving consistency throughout the season and Francis was happy with their performance.
“He’s a good boy and he tries super hard — sometimes too hard!” Francis said. “We got through the test without any big bobbles, but we still have little things where he gets a little more nervous than normal. This summer he got really afraid of the audience at Rotterdam when we were competing over there, and now he’s still really afraid of them, so he’s a little bit nervous in there.”
Francis also had success earlier in the evening when she won the CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle with a 73.10 percent on Danilo, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Patricia Stempel.
Rounding out the top three was Spain’s 19-year-old Juan Matute Jr. and the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Quantico Ymas. They had won the CDI4* earlier in the week, but a last-minute freestyle change caused difficulties for the pair on Friday night.
“I was very pleased with his performance, especially since it was his first time under the lights with a freestyle that wasn’t fit for him — it was actually my other ride’s freestyle,” Matute explained. “We decided to make a last minute change because the choreography was a little more difficult, and for a 4* I thought it was more fitting to be more competitive in the choreography. We had an overall great test but it was a pity that I ran out of music and did my last entire exercise without music! But I was very pleased and proud of him — we’ve come a long way.”
Competition resumes on Saturday with the CDI3* Grand Prix Special starting at 1:45 p.m. and the CDI4* Grand Prix Special kicking off at 3:45 p.m.
Results: CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle
1. Katherine Bateson-Chandler/USA/Alcazar/73.325
2. Shelly Francis/USA/Doktor/72.95
3. Juan Matute Jr./ESP/Quantico Ymas/71.775
4. Jill Irving/CAN/Degas 12/71.525
5. Jacqueline Brooks/CAN/D Niro/70.025
6. Maria Florencia Manfredi/ARG/Bandurria Kacero/68.45
7. Ellesse Tzinberg/PHI/Pavarotti 85/62.55