Wellington, FL – March 30, 2016 – The U.S. team began their bid for gold at the Stillpoint Farm Nations Cup CDIO3* with a strong showing on the opening day of competition. Laura Graves and Verdades showed the way with a standout performance, taking top honors in the Grand Prix. The seasoned pair drew on their longstanding partnership to earn a personal best 76.86 percent.
U.S. athletes, all competing in the large tour at this Nations Cup, also took second place (Kasey Perry-Glass on Goerklintgaards Dublet, scoring a 73 percent), fourth place (Shelly Francis on Doktor, scoring a 71.74 percent, and sixth place (Tuny Page on Woodstock, scoring a 69.762 percent) in the Grand Prix.
Canada’s team, headlined by Belinda Trussell and Anton, currently lies in second place, with a total of 212.6 points to the United States’ 226.1 points. Spain is in third with 203.763 points, just edging out Denmark with 202.95 points.
A last minute change in venues from the Stadium to the Van Kampen covered arena left Graves nervous for her test and eager to see how the gelding felt in this environment. At the beginning of the season, the pair competed in the covered arena and had a disconnected test with Verdades feeling tense.
“Last show in the indoor felt very discombobulated,” Graves said. “He was four different horses, one of those circus horses where you have four different legs. Today he really trusted me.”
She added, “Coming back in the covered arena, in a team situation, where you know your teammates are counting on you to anchor, I hope what happened last time was an anomaly. We really wanted to conquer that today, and we did! He was great I thought he gave me that same feeling that he actually gave me in the indoor before, I was just able to ride it better.”
The canter tour, especially the half-pass zigzag, was a highlight for Graves. Verdades broke to a couple steps of trot from the walk after Graves asked a little bit more from the gelding, hoping he would fill the contact more. The rider took the blame for Verdades’ misstep in the walk work.
“Now, when things are perfect, I think, ‘What if I did this?’” Graves said. “I keep asking myself, ‘How honest is he?’ The walk work is so sensitive in the ring, and so expensive. That’s something I want to practice once this show is over and before we go to Europe. We need to study a little bit more.”
Graves enjoys Team USA’s camaraderie and support, not only from her teammates, but from fellow Americans.
“Always the opportunity to compete on a team is a real honor,” Graves said. “It’s different, because no matter what you have to show up for everybody else. As much as we sometimes want to be down on ourselves or pick on our flaws, you have got to stay positive and be there for one another.”
Graves hopes to build on her positive Grand Prix results in Friday’s Grand Prix Special and support the U.S. team in their quest for the top of the podium.
“I look to prove our training to myself in the ring,” Graves said. “It’s not so much what he proves to me, but it’s how well have I trained this horse. If he feels tomorrow like he felt today, I will be able to ride a decent Special, I hope. All you can do is ride your very best, and some days you come out on top and some days you get taken by surprise.”
In the small tour division, Juan Matute Jr. of Spain topped the Prix St. Georges class with a 71.868 percent on Yeguada de Ymas’ Dhannie Ymas. The 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Don Crusador has been competing in the Young Rider division with Matute throughout the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
“I am proud,” Matute said. “We still made some mistakes that I’d like to improve upon for tomorrow’s test. I had a big whoops in the first pirouette because we had a bit of a miscommunication. Overall, I think I had a great feeling in our test. He does not like the covered as much as outside, but overall I was happy.”
Matute has represented Spain in three Nations Cups and won the 2014 individual silver medal on Don Diego Ymas, his current Grand Prix mount.
“I’ve been working on getting toward the softer aids and a lighter contact to make everything look easier,” Matute said. “Little by little I think I’ve improved that throughout the season.”
Results: Stillpoint Farm Nations Cup CDIO3*
1. United States 226.100
2. Canada 212.600
3. Spain 203.763
4. Denmark 202.95
5. Costa Rica 194.949
6. Australia 185.840
CDIO3* Prix St. Georges
Judges: E: Hess/H: Tubman/C: Lang/M: Clarke/B:Fore
1. Juan Matute Jr./ESP/Dhannie Ymas/71.868
2. Raul Corchuelo/COL/Beckham/69.395
3. Katharina Stumpf/AUT/For My Love/67.500
4. Juan Antonio Jimenez Cobo/ ESP/Elevado/67.000
5. Christer Egerstrom/CRC/Amorino/66.526
6. Rikke Poulsen/DEN/Pikk Elena HU/66.184
7. Alfonso Ramirez/ESP/Legacys Cosmico/64.895
8. Anne Marie Egerstrom/CRC/Amorino/64.789
CDIO3* Grand Prix
Judges: E: Torrente/H: Lang/C: Clarke/M: Fore/B: Hess
1. Laura Graves/USA/Verdades/76.860
2. Kasey Perry-Glass/USA/Goerklintgaards Dublet/73.000
3. Mikala Gundersen/DEN/My Lady/72.240
4. Shelly Francis/USA/Doktor/71.740
5. Belinda Trussell/CAN/Anton/70.920
6. Tuny Page/USA/Woodstock/69.762
7. Karen Pavicic/CAN/Don Daiquiri/68.820
8. Megan Lane/CAN/Caravella/68.360