Wellington, Fla. – March 2, 2018 – No stranger to the winner’s circle, Laura Graves and Verdades (Florett AS – Liwilarda, Goya) topped the leaderboard during the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle at the Palm Beach Derby with an impressive score of 84.975 percent. It was the highest score ever to be earned at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
Graves and her 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding had set the record for the highest score at AGDF during the CDI-5* in February with a score of 84.375 percent, but they beat it tonight by improving their score by six-tenths of a percentage. The score is their second highest score as they earned their personal best score of 85.307 percent at the FEI World Cup in Omaha last spring. Once again, Graves used her newer canter choreography which featured half-passes in the passage and double canter pirouettes.
Grave’s trainer, Olympian Debbie McDonald had a busy evening as she coached Adrienne Lyle to a second place finish aboard Betsy Juliano’s Salvino. It was the pair’s Grand Prix Freestyle debut under the lights and they did not disappoint the crowd, earning a total score of 78.275 percent. Lyle and the 11-year-old stallion (Sandro Hit – Dynastie, Donnarhall) danced to her Olympic mount Wizard’s music. Lyle’s choreography consisted of double pirouettes into a steep canter half-pass, back into a double pirouette. Lyle also executed a pirouette in the piaffe and tempi-changes on a broken line.
Claiming the yellow ribbon was Spain’s Juan Matute Guimon aboard Don Diego Ymas (Don Frederico – Wie Platine, Wolkenstein II) with a score of 73.8 percent. Matute Guimon put on an exciting performance starting their ride off with a bold extended canter down the centerline. Matute Guimon and the 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding have been competing together since 2012 and have grown from doing the CDI-Juniors to competing at the CDI Grand Prix level. Matute Guimon and his long-time partner placed fourth in the Grand Prix earlier this week.
This week’s CDI-W marks the end of the qualifying period in the North American League for the FEI World Cup Finals in Paris. Team USA members Shelly Francis and Laura Graves have both qualified to travel to Paris along with Yvonne Losos de Muniz of the Dominican Republic who has earned a spot with the non-league riders.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Laura Graves – First Place
On Her Ride Tonight:
“It’s fun to come out of every ride and have something new to talk about with my coach, Debbie McDonald. I had some really brilliant light bulb moments for myself while riding tonight and that’s super exciting. We don’t go in just to tack on miles, there’s always a purpose – so tonight was no different. It’s learning to ride this horse when he’s as hot as he is and he’s super duper hot in this atmosphere.
I was a little worried at first, I couldn’t hear my music and I thought maybe they were playing the wrong music in the beginning – I kept turning around to see if someone would see that I was maybe wanting it louder. In a couple parts in the canter, I couldn’t hear and my transitions were off, so I thought maybe even they were playing the wrong music and my old music was very similar but it was the new track, I just couldn’t hear it for most of the ride which was unfortunate.”
On Going To Paris:
“It looks like horses are scheduled to depart for Paris about the 6th [of April] out of Miami. So between now and then we’ll be spending some extra time down here with Debbie [McDonald] and doing a little research – just really trying to get a grip on the competition in Paris. I’ll work with David Stickland and do some score analysis. The USEF graciously provides his services for us so it’s an opportunity that I obviously won’t pass up and we’ll utilize that to try to squeak out every point we can out of the final.”
Adrienne Lyle – Second Place
On Her Ride Tonight:
“This is Salvino’s first time under the lights doing a freestyle and that’s always a big unknown with a horse so I was completely thrilled with how he handled everything. He felt more relaxed and easy going than even in the test earlier this week. It’s been four years since I’ve been out there under the lights and I’ve been dying to get back out there and it was really fun. He just seemed to love it, and I’m so excited. I wanted to give him a good experience, give him confidence in there and make it something he wants to enjoy to do in the future and I think we accomplished that.”
On Her Freestyle:
“The music and choreography I did tonight was actually Wizard’s old music, which I haven’t ridden since 2014. We are in the process of creating a new freestyle with Terri Gallow for Salvino that will be more difficult, this was a fairly simple floor plan but it got the job done to get him in the ring and get a qualifying score. It gave him a good experience so I hope maybe by the Nations Cup, if not then by Tryon [CDI3*] to have his new freestyle – hopefully, he’ll have his own freestyle shortly.”
Juan Matute Guimon – Third Place
On His Ride Tonight:
“I think it was quite an electric test that we had – he was feeling very, very fresh and active and I think we had a lot of expression throughout the test. We had this one big miscommunication that cost us unfortunately many points. Overall in the test there was a goal to try to go through the test, not just clean but with a bit of more expression and impulsion with a competitive attitude – we were really trying to go for a good ride tonight. I was actually quite surprised and happy of course with the score and the placing.”
On His Freestyle:
“The choreography is designed between my father and I and then the music is put together by my mom. My mom and I choose the songs and she pretty much puts it all together. It is a homemade project.”
Anne Gribbons – President of the Ground Jury
On the top two places:
“I was very proud of the two American horses and I thought you were outstanding. I’ve watched Laura ride at all the shows I’ve been at, which are a lot of them and I think this one was your best freestyle overall. The first two movements were a little tense. But then he just let go and he was on. In the piaffe, he actually sat and did a very good job. Adrienne, your horse is amazing especially for being so green. He’s very calm and happy in the skin. I think this is very promising for the team with these horses.
Results: CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle
Rider / Country / Horse / Total Score
1. Laura Graves / USA / Verdades / 84.975
2. Adrienne Lyle / USA / Salvino / 78.275
3. Juan Matute Guimon / ESP / Don Diego Ymas / 73.800
4. Ashley Holzer / USA / Radondo / 73.250
5. Chase Hickok / USA / Sagacious HF / 72.360
6. Yvonne Losos de Muniz / DOM / Aquamarijn / 71.145
7. Sahar Daniel Hirosh / ISR / Whitman / 67.375
8. Ariana Chia / CAN / Teo / 66.385
9. Bianca Tota / USA / Cadento V / 66.050
10. Ellesse Tzinberg / PHI / Triviant 2 / 65.950