Wellington, FL – April 1, 2016 – It was an electric night of world-class freestyles for the final Friday Night Lights of the 2016 Adequan Global Dressage Festival. The CDIO3* Intermediaire I and Grand Prix Freestyles drew a large crowd to the venue, and all three Grand Prix Freestyle medalists earned personal bests. Laura Graves on Verdades earned the highest recorded score in the history of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival with an 82.8 percent in the Grand Prix Freestyle.
“It was an amazing last night,” said Thomas Baur, AGDF director of sport. “I had a brief look at the history of the AGDF, and we had the highest score ever here today with Laura’s 82.8 and third highest score with Kasey’s 81.325. We’ve only ever had five scores over 80, so this is amazing. Thank you for the season.”
New for this year’s Nations Cup in Wellington, two sets of individual medals were awarded to the top three large tour and top three small tour riders, rather than both divisions competing against each other for one set of medals as they have in the past. Graves’ impressive score earned her the Grand Prix Freestyle gold, while Juan Matute snagged the gold medal in the Intermediaire I Freestyle. Graves was thrilled to be back above 80 percent in the Freestyle and achieve her highest score to date.
“It’s amazing,” Graves said. “Obviously it’s a goal we have every time we go into the arena. It was an incredible atmosphere here tonight, so I could not ask for a better high to end our season with team gold, individual gold and personal best. I’m looking forward to the rest of this year and the amazing Team USA we are creating.”
It was the second time she has performed her new freestyle, which includes the soundtrack of the inspirational football movie ‘Rudy.’ Though the choreography is similar to her previous freestyle, Graves’ confidence in Verdades has led her to add a higher degree of difficulty. She felt the riskiest component of her freestyle is the two-tempis on a circle transitioning into one-tempis on a short diagonal.
“We do that twice, and it’s a lot of counting,” Graves laughs. “We added the risk where we felt we were comfortable that the horse could succeed. It’s difficulty in a way you don’t over face your horse or make it look difficult.”
Fellow American Kasey Perry-Glass had a stellar performance on Goerklintgaards Dublet, earning a personal best of 81.325 percent for the silver medal. This has been the pair’s first season competing at Grand Prix. Perry-Glass felt that she was holding back at the beginning of the season.
“I think it was a progression throughout the season,” Perry-Glass said. “Dublet and I have really formed a relationship where I can have a conversation with him in the ring and he trusts me enough that I can push him.”
Perry-Glass, who trains with Debbie McDonald, is also on track to head to Europe to vie for a position on the United States Olympic team.
“I’m so blessed,” Perry-Glass said through tears. “I could not have asked for a better year. I think I found my grit. It’s just going to keep getting better for us; I really believe that. We are both really patient, and we are in it for the long haul. I want to keep him happy and healthy.”
Canadian Belinda Trussell finished her season strong, taking the bronze medal in the competitive class with a 76.35 percent on Anton. She was proud of herself for pulling off her one-handed piaffe pirouette.
“It’s thrilling to be here as a Canadian with these two great Americans,” Trussell said. “It was a goal for me to be on the individual podium, and to do that, I am thrilled. It was my first time to be an individual medalist. Anton was a bit wound, and he gets a bit tight when he is wound, but he also gets more expressive. He was really with me. I am always so blessed with this horse that whenever he is like that he is still with me.”
Stephen Clarke, president of the ground jury, gave high praise for the evening’s class.
“During that class, the hair on my neck was standing up,” Clarke said. “It was fantastic. You guys just really went for it. We saw such harmony, a lot of risk taking, a really high degree of difficulty, beautiful musical interpretations, and it was a super class. For me, it was really fun to judge.”
Intermediaire I Freestyle
Juan Matute Jr. and Dhannie Ymas capped an excellent Nations Cup with a dominating performance to clinch Intermediaire I Freestyle gold, adding the medal to their Spanish team bronze. In the Freestyle the pair had a little trouble with the energetic atmosphere but still earned a 74.55 percent. The music that Matute uses is a family project: his father designs the choreography, and his mother matches it with the music.
“It’s great to come back this year to find success with my team and tonight as an individual,” Matute said. “Dhannie and I had a great test; I have not felt a better test. (There was) power and pushing, but at the same time, he felt relaxed. Unfortunately, at the collected walk he spooked a little bit. He felt unbelievable. Every day he is getting better and stronger.”
The pair is looking down the road where they will continue their journey in Europe, hoping to find success and have fun.
“The feelings are getting better each day,” Matute said. “We have had a super season, and we will go to Europe for the European league, hopefully, and see if we can keep it up. We are young competing against such great riders at all levels.”
Katharina Stumpf, of Austria, and For My Love pulled off a riveting performance. Getting the crowd on their feet in excitement, Stumpf pulled off the silver medal with a 70.925 percent. This is the pair’s fourth time on the podium this season at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
“I am super happy with my horse,” Stumpf said. “This season was fantastic. He got better and better. This was an amazing way to end the season, and I am so happy.”
Being an amateur, Stumpf feels it is an honor to represent her country. Her music is set to love songs which represent her horse’s name, For My Love.
“I love doing the freestyle; it is a special honor,” Stumpf said. “My trainer (Chris von Martels) did the choreography, and I only had to ride. He is really safe and strong.”
Columbia’s Raul Corchuelo with Beckham fell just short of the silver medal but earned themselves a bronze medal with a 70.9 percent. After feeling the gelding was behind his leg earlier in the competition, Corchuelo worked to correct that by channeling more energy.
“This is my first season in Florida,” Corchuelo said. “We have been working at this score for the last three years despite yesterday where he was a little behind me. The freestyle is a special occasion. I designed the choreography, and my wife is in charge of the music. She’s really, really good at it.”
Results: Stillpoint Farm Nations Cup CDIO3*
Grand Prix Freestyle
Judges: E: Hess (GES)/H: Lang (AUT)/C: Clarke (GBR)/M:Fore (USA)/B: Torrente (COL)
Gold: Laura Graves/USA/Verdades/82.800
Silver: Kasey Perry-Glass/USA/Goerklintgaards Dublet/81.325
Bronze: Belinda Trussell/CAN/Anton/76.350
4. Mikala Gundersen/DEN/My Lady/75.925
4. Tuny Page/USA/Woodstock/75.925
6. Jacqueline Brooks/CAN/D Niro/71.850
7. Megan Lane/CAN/Caravella/69.375
8. Maria Florencia Manfredi/ARG/Bandurria Kacero/69.125
Intermediaire I Freestyle
Judges: E: Storr (GBR)/H: Tubman (CAN)/C: Jena (SWE)/M: Gribbons (USA)/B: Wysocki (USA)
Gold: Juan Matute Jr./ESP/Dhannie Ymas/74.550
Silver: Katharina Stumpf/AUT/For My Love/70.925
Bronze: Raul Corchuelo/COL/Beckham/70.900
4. Juan Antonio Jimenez Cobo/ESP/Elevado/70.475
5. Christer Egerstrom/CRC/Bello Oriente/69.325
6. Pablo Gomez Molina/ESP/Lanzado De Ymas/67.375
7. Rikke Poulsen/DEN/Pikk Elena HU/65.875
8. Signe Kirk Kristiansen/DEN/Roberto/64.875