Wellington, Fla. – Nineteen horse and rider combinations braved the unusual cold weather at Week 0 of the 2018 Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) CPEDI3*. The Deloitte U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team comprised of Michele Bandinu (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Katie Jackson (Austin, Texas), Margaret McIntosh (Reading, Pa.), and Roxanne Trunnell (Rowlett, Texas) stepped into 2018 with an impressive performance at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival CPEDI3*. With a total team score of 420.622, the team completed their FEI Team Test on Friday, January 5, and their FEI Individual Championship Test on Saturday, January 6. These tests determined the final team placing. Chef d’Equipe and National Advisor Kai Handt led the team in their opening competition of the year.
“The Deloitte U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team had an excellent showing thanks to our sponsors, US Equestrian, USPEA, Adequan, Deloitte, Mission Control, and Rowan O’Reilly,” said Handt. “The team has been improving their scores all week, and finished with 60 percent of the riders above 70 percent by Sunday. We have great expectations for our team and trainers in 2018. In the last six months, we have seen a tremendous improvement from our team, which has more than tripled in participation and size over the last three years.”
Friday’s FEI Team Test counted for 50 percent of the team’s overall score and saw first-place performances by 2016 Paralympian McIntosh and her 14-year-old Danish Warmblood mare Heros in Grade I with a score of 73.750 percent. Sydney Collier and Western Rose (USA) took second place with a 70.476 percent in Grade I, with Winona Hartvikson and Ultimo (CAN) taking third place with a 69.286 percent. Jackson and the 12-year-old Westphalian gelding Royal Dancer took first place and earned a 69.070 percent in Grade V. Mary Jordan and Rubicon 75 (USA) took second place with a 67.016 percent.
Angela Peavy and Royal Dark Chocolate (USA) won the Grade IV Team Test with a 71.542 percent and Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 (USA) followed in second place with a 69.750. Bandinu and Soulman 13 were awarded a 68.000 percent to put him and his 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding in third place.
The Grade II Team Test saw Alanna Flax-Clark and Captain Moonlight TG (USA) taking first place with a 66.162 percent and Deborah Stanitski and Butterfinger Bonanza (USA) taking second place with a 59.646 percent.
In the Grade III Team Test, Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel (USA) took first place with a 67.941 percent. While Charlotte Merle-Smith and Firewalker (USA) took second place and Meghan Benge and Zoey (USA) took third place, with a 64.804 percent and a 64.559 percent respectively.
The Grade I FEI Individual Championship Test was held on Saturday and completed the final 50 percent of the score contributing to the U.S. team’s top finish. With consistent execution, McIntosh and Heros held onto their lead and contributed largely to the team’s final placing, with a 72.381 percent in Grade I. Winona Hartvikson and Ultimo (CAN) took second place with a 71.131 percent, while Sydney Collier and Western Rose (USA) took third place with a 69.393 percent.
Trunnell and NTEC Daytona Beach improved upon their Team Test performance, moving up to fourth in the Individual Championship Test with a 67.738 percent.
In the Grade II Individual Test, Alanna Flax-Clark and Captain Moonlight TG (USA) took first place with a 63.422 percent with Deborah Stanitski and Butterfinger Bonanza in second place with a 58.382 percent.
The Grade III Individual Test saw Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel (USA) taking first place, earning a 67.745 percent. Charlotte Merle-Smith and Firewalker (USA) followed in second place with a score of 63.627 percent. Meghan Benge and Zoey (USA) took third place with a 60.294 percent.
Meanwhile, in the Grade IV Individual Championship Test, Angela Peavy and Royal Dark Chocolate (USA) continued their success winning with a 72.398 percent while Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 (USA) earned second place with a 67.398 percent in the Grade IV test. Bandinu and Soulman 13 maintained third place with a solid ride, finishing on a 66.492 percent.
Jackson and Royal Dancer improved their score and rounded out the U.S. team’s score in Grade V with yet another first place and a 69.683 percent, Mary Jordan and Rubicon 75 (USA) took second place with a 63.611 percent.
With a top finish in the team competition, the Deloitte U.S. Para-Equestrian Team went on to compete in Sunday’s Freestyle Tests, with the Grade V competing first. Jackson and Royal Dancer finished in the top position with a 71.075 percent, with Mary Jordan and Rubicon 75 (USA) followed with a 65.917 percent. Bandinu and Soulman 13 finished second in Grade IV with a 72.408 percent in between Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 (USA) in first place with a 72.792 percent and Angela Peavy and Royal Dark Chocolate (USA) in third place with a 72.382 percent.
In Grade III, Rebecca Hard and El Corona Texel (USA) earned first place with a 74.167 percent. Charlotte Merle-Smith and Firewalker (USA) took second place with a 67.100 percent, with Meghan Benge and Zoey (USA) taking third place with a 65.889 percent.
Finally, in Grade I, McIntosh and Heros swept the competition yet again, with a top finish and a 76.267 percent. Winona Hartvikson and Ultimo (CAN) earned second place with a 73.622 percent and Sydney Collier and Western Rose (USA) took third place with a 70.933 percent. Trunnell and NTEC Daytona Beach finished fourth with a 70.144 percent.
“We are looking forward to an exciting show season for 2018,” said Handt. “We are seeing that the application of online test judging and intense training seminars at our Para-Equestrian Centers of Excellence and at CPEDI’s, is really getting our trainers on the right track and improving results for the upcoming season. We are looking to be a solid contender team by the end of the qualifying period for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, which requires fine-tuning at our upcoming training sessions. Our para-dressage sport is growing rapidly with a large group of U25 riders, juniors, and young riders attracted to the sport. We are supporting a strong base of experienced and upcoming competitors. 2018 is going to be a good year.”
The 2018 AGDF CPEDI3* January 4-7, is the first of two (Week Two is January 18-21) international Para-Dressage shows held in Wellington this season. Both shows are sponsored by By Mission Control, Rowan O’Riley supporting athletes in the USPEA and US Equestrian, and Cargill. Para-Dressage riders are using these multiple opportunities to prepare for the exciting FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 held in Mill Spring, North Carolina, U.S. at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, from September 11-September 23.