Hamilton and Makari Design Maintain Their Lead at Southern Pines CDE

Photo: Nifty Hamilton and Makari Design (Picsofyou.com)

Raeford, N.C. – The USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship continued on Saturday with the marathon phase at the Southern Pines Combined Driving Event (CDE). The athlete-and-horse combinations headed out on the Carolina Horse Park’s grounds to tackle Barry Hunter’s marathon track. Jennifer “Nifty” Hamilton and Makari Design held onto their lead to stay atop the overall leaderboard heading into the final phase on Sunday.

USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Defending national champions Hamilton (Alva, Fla.) and Makari Design continued their quest for back-to-back titles by blazing around the marathon course. The duo won the marathon phase with a score of 81.92 penalties, having the fastest times in two of the seven obstacles. Hamilton and the 10-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Milton Hamilton head into the cones phase with an overall score of 130.01 penalties.

“[Makari Design] was perfect,” Hamilton said. “It was a wonderful course; Barry Hunter is a great course designer. The course drove very smooth, but there were two water hazards, so it was a tough course.”

Hamilton also had high praise for the combinations in the national championship. “It is a great field of competitors. Today was a good effort on everyone’s part. We all work together studying courses and sharing routes; it is a great group to be a part of.”

Jacob Arnold (Snow Camp, N.C.) and Uminco moved up from third place to second place overall on the strength of a strong marathon round. Arnold piloted Leslie Berndl’s 17-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood gelding to the fastest times in four obstacles and finished the phase with 82.53 penalties. The combination heads into Sunday on an overall score of 135.42 penalties.

Barbara Chapman (Metamora, Mich.) and Meara Beval climbed from fourth place on the leaderboard to third following Saturday’ phase. With her 14-year-old American Warmblood mare, Chapman finished the marathon course with 88.34 penalties. She and Meara Beval sit on an overall score of 142.30 penalties.

Find more information on the Southern Pines CDE.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Werth Reigns Supreme to Become a Four-Time Champion

Photo: Isabell Werth with Weihegold. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

America’s Laura Graves chases her right to the line

In a dramatic conclusion to an extraordinary battle between two mighty forces, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48) posted a back-to-back victory at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final 2018 in Paris, France.

America’s Laura Graves (30) and Verdades put all the pressure on the defending champion when pinning her into runner-up spot in the Grand Prix, so in this deciding Freestyle Werth had it all to do to put that behind her and come back out fighting. But with her trademark steely determination, the phenomenal athlete produced a pristine performance to see off the challenge and lift the coveted trophy for the fourth time in her incredible career.

It was right down to the wire, however, and she knew that the slightest error was out of the question when second-last to go. Graves had already posted a massive score of 89.082 which, the US rider admitted, surprised even her. “I knew anything was possible. I knew it would take a score like that to possibly get a win and it was a huge personal best for me!” Graves said.

However, Werth mustered all the skill and experience of a lifetime to squeeze her rival out of pole position with the winning mark of 90.657. She described the Grand Prix defeat as “motivating“, and simply used it to spur herself on to better things with the help of team coach and manager, Monica Theodorescu. “Like I said yesterday, I was not really disappointed or sad; I was just thinking about how I had to prepare for today and how I had to make it better and analyse what went wrong. So Monica and I, we decided to go in the big warm-up arena today, to bring her (Weihegold) forward and to make her free again, and that worked, and today she was the horse I wanted to show yesterday.”

“This is life; a lot of people think it’s easy; you win and you win again, but it’s not like that. You have to think about it all the time and keep listening to your horse. Yesterday was not our day, but today we could solve it. And this is what I really like to do, and that’s the reason why I love to compete!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

The result was another reminder of the continuing resurgence of the German Dressage powerhouse, with Werth’s compatriots Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (Unee BB) and Dorothee Schneider (Sammy Davis Jr) slotting into third and fifth places. Von Bredow-Werndl’s success was at the expense of Sweden’s Patrik Kittel who, as always, had the crowd right behind him when producing another one of his toe-tapping performances with Deja but who just missed a place on the podium when having to settle for fourth.

Graves threw down something of a challenge at the press conference. “I never practice my Freestyle as much as my other tests, so I think now I have a bit of homework to do and I think there are many more points to be earned in the future,” she said, so she is clearly marking Werth’s card for the next time they meet.

However, the lady taking centre stage was one of the great role models in the sport whose accomplishments are so many they may never be matched. Werth is taking great satisfaction from her fourth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title, not just because it’s another success but because of the way she achieved it.

“To have experience is an advantage if you use it in the right way, and I think we did that from yesterday to today,” she said. “After a lot of years in the sport you know how many things can happen, how things can change very quickly. It gives you the confidence to go in the ring and to try your best – you know what your horse can do and you know what you can do. This was just a great day today!” said the happy German star.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Hamilton and Makari Design Lead after Day One at Southern Pines CDE

Photo: Nifty Hamilton and Makari Design (Picsofyou.com)

Raeford, N.C. – The USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship at the Southern Pines Combined Driving Event (CDE) began Friday with the dressage phase. Thirteen athlete-and-horse combinations headed down centerline to perform their tests, but Jennifer “Nifty” Hamilton and Makari Design stood out to the Ground Jury. The defending national champions lead the field heading into Saturday’s marathon phase.

USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Hamilton (Alva, Fla.) and Makari Design had a lovely test to impress the judges with well-executed movements and a nice flow. Their steady performances this year have set them up for success at the Carolina Horse Park. Hamilton piloted the 10-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Milton Hamilton to a score of 48.09 penalties to take the early lead in the national championship.

“I thought [my test] was very good. [Makari Design] was strong and rhythmic today,” Hamilton said. “I am really happy with the way he is progressing; I wanted to bring him along slowly. He is just 10, so I think in another two years, he is going to be terrific.”

Gary Yeager (Ocala, Fla.) and Spring Brooks Galipso are in second place in the national championship after scoring 50.84 penalties in the dressage phase. Even though the duo only began competing at the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) level last fall, they have been consistent performers. Yeager and Sigrid Edwards’s seven-year-old American Dutch Harness gelding had a solid test in a strong field of competitors to position themselves well for the next phase.

Jacob Arnold (Snow Camp, N.C.) and Uminco round out the top three after receiving a score of 52.89 penalties. Arnold is coming off a win at Live Oak International with Leslie Berndl’s 17-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood gelding and aims to continue their momentum at the national championship.

The exciting marathon phase is up next for the competitors.

“The marathon course looks great,” Hamilton explained. “It is gated really smooth, and I found really good routes. Today, [Makari Design] was really in my hand, so I hope to pick up speed and do it again tomorrow.”

Find more information on the Southern Pines CDE.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Beezie and Breitling Are Unbeatable Again in Paris

Photo: Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

America’s Beezie Madden (54) almost made it look easy as she moved one step closer to clinching the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA) with her second victory of the week with Breitling LS.

Last to go in a thrilling nine-horse jump-off, she cruised home to overtake The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (37) and his lovely stallion Emerald, while Henrik von Eckermann (37) clinched third with the mare Toveks Mary Lou. And that result has promoted the Swede to second in the overall rankings ahead of Sunday’s two-round finale in which Madden will kick off with a one-fence advantage. The American star, and series champion in 2013, was thrilled with Breitling.

“He has a super temperament – actually he’s so nice that a lot of people don’t seem to realise he’s a stallion! He’s careful and clever, and every time I call on him he does everything I want – I couldn’t ask for any more!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

Her compatriot, Devin Ryan, held onto the third spot he established with Eddie Blue in the speed competition despite being one of six to collect a single time penalty over the 14-fence first-round track. Course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela, set a fast enough time limit of 75 seconds, but it was the first two elements of the triple combination at fence nine that put paid to Marcus Ehning’s chances of becoming the first-ever four-time FEI World Cup™ champion. And it wasn’t Germany’s day as his compatriot Daniel Deusser, lying second overnight, saw his hopes of a second title crushed when his 2014 winning ride, Cornet d’Amour, appeared to mis-read the first element of the double at fence five.

Frenchman, Kevin Staut, led the way against the clock with Silver Deux de Virton HDC, and his clear set the early target at 36.87 seconds. He stayed out in front when America’s Jamie Barge and Luebbo were also foot-perfect but fractionally slower, but Smolders reset the parameters with a blistering round from the feisty stallion Emerald who broke the beam in 33.44 seconds. Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts didn’t threaten that with Legend of Love who crossed the line clear in 35.19, but von Eckermann came close when stopping the clock on 33.92 and then only Madden was left to challenge Smolders for the win.

A tight turn to the fourth fence on the jump-off track, a double of verticals, was essential, and although defending champions, America’s McLain Ward and HH Azur, posted the quickest time of 32.74 seconds, they hit the first element here. Madden’s Breitling, however, was flawless once again, putting on another jumping exhibition to clinch pole position as they breezed through the timers in 33.22. “Left turns to a vertical used to be our nemesis, but he’s figured out his front end now,” the double Olympic gold medallist pointed out.

When asked if she was feeling confident with a one-fence lead going into Sunday’s title-decider, she said, “It’s nice to have a rail in hand, but we are really only halfway through the competition. We have two more rounds and maybe a jump-off on Sunday… it can all change a lot yet.”

Smolders admitted he might have made an error of judgement in competing his other ride, Zinius, in the opening speed leg. “It’s always easy to say that afterwards, but Zinius had a very good indoor season and he’s naturally fast in speed classes so I made that decision, but it didn’t work out. I don’t like to lose, but I don’t mind being beaten by Beezie who won in style – and this was a great class tonight,” he said.

Madden’s closest rival on Sunday, however, will be von Eckermann. “I didn’t ride so great to the double of verticals (in the jump-off), I was a bit over-careful but my horse jumped both rounds fantastic,” he said, and you can tell he’s pretty confident that there’s plenty more left in Mary Lou’s tank for Sunday’s challenge.

But mistakes will be very costly indeed on the final afternoon, as Philippaerts, Ward, and Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow are in joint-fourth place carrying just six faults apiece, and Smolders and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez are only a single fault further behind.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Laura Graves and Verdades Win FEI Grand Prix at FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Graves and Francis advance to FEI Grand Prix Freestyle

Paris, France – In their triumphant return to the FEI World Cup Dressage Final, Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and Verdades claimed victory in the FEI Grand Prix to open the competition. On a grand prix personal best score of 81.413 percent, the powerful combination rode the centerline with poise and grace, showing the world that they arrived to compete. Germany’s Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD placed second with a score of 78.261 percent, while Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER) and Unee BB came in third on a 75.668 percent.

“I am very happy with the performance,” said Graves. “It was our first time in this stadium with fans and it is going to be very exciting tomorrow. Everything is special. This is our third World Cup now, and I am hoping maybe third time is the charm for us. Today is actually Friday the 13th, isn’t it? That’s supposed to be bad luck, but not for us. So, a lot of special things. This is a big year for us. It is our first World Cup Final in Europe and a personal best today, so I am very excited going into tomorrow, and the rest of this year.”

Coming straight from competing in Florida, Graves and Verdades, the 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes, were undefeated at the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, scoring over 80 percent in all the freestyle tests in which they entered. At the 2017 CHIO Aachen, Graves and Verdades bested Werth for the first time in the FEI Grand Prix Special with an 81.824 percent, making Friday’s FEI Grand Prix at the Finals their second win over the talented German athlete.

“I always say it is a little scary with such a fierce competitor, because I know [Isabell] is going to ride even harder tomorrow,” continued Graves. “But that’s why I’m here. I like to put myself in a situation to also be challenged. I think it makes me a better competitor, a better rider, and we will certainly continue to put ourselves against the toughest competition.”

The 17 riders receiving scores above 60 percent in the Grand Prix will move forward to compete in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, which will determine the champion of the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final.

Fellow American Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding, finished the Grand Prix with a score of 68.236 percent. They will be the first combination down the centerline in the Freestyle.

Complete results.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

A Magical Round with Breitling Gives America’s Madden Early Lead

Photo: Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

She’s done it before, coming out on top five years ago, and America’s Beezie Madden, one of just four lady riders in the field of 37 starters, threw down the gauntlet to all the rest when galloping to victory in the opening speed competition at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2018 in Paris (FRA).

The double Olympic gold medallist gave her 12-year-old stallion, Breitling LS, a spectacular ride, full of confidence, precision and determination to finish almost a second clear of runner-up Daniel Deusser (36) from Germany who also knows what it’s like to hold this coveted World Cup trophy in his hands. The big surprise of the evening was the third-place finish for Madden’s compatriot, the relatively unknown Devin Ryan (36) who goes into the second test just three points off the lead after results were calculated into points.

But none of those at the head of the leaderboard have any room for complacency, because stalking them is three-time title-holder Marcus Ehning from Germany who finished fourth with Cornado NRW, while one of the most talked-about partnerships ahead of these Finals, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Toveks Mary Lou, are close behind in fifth. It’s going to be a sizzler all the way to the finale when the new champion will be crowned.

Madden was happy with her result having mastered the balance between speed and risk over the clever 13-fence course set by Spain’s Santiago Varela better than all the rest.

“It’s quite tense on the first day… it’s a little bit of a juggling act, so when it all works out well it’s a big relief!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

Fellow-American and defending champion McLain Ward fell victim to a tight turn to the penultimate double where HH Azur hit the first element, which added four seconds to their time and has left them in tenth place overall. That’s a long way behind, but as Madden pointed out, “At these Finals it’s just one day at a time!”

The omens are looking good for her, however. She recalled that when she steered Simon to victory, in a thrilling showdown against Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat in Gothenburg in 2013, she also won on the first day. And Breitling is really on top of his game right now.  “He’s only competed three weeks this year. He won the World Cup qualifier at Thermal, we did a 4-Star Grand Prix and Nations Cup (in Wellington) and he was clear in the Nations Cup and won the Grand Prix and then did another 4-Star Grand Prix (in Wellington) and won that as well,” she pointed out. She’s delighted with this horse which, like her previous winner Simon, she got from Dutch Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam and which she has now been riding for five years.

Deusser has every reason to be pleased too, because it is the horse that carried him to glory in Lyon (FRA) in 2014 that has put him right in the frame. The 15-year-old Cornet d’Amour has had a long injury-break but was clearly back in the zone, and although Deusser has the possibility of an alternative ride for the next two competitions, he said that he will probably bring the grey back out over the next two days because he’s feeling really great.

At just nine years of age, Devin Ryan’s Eddie Blue is the youngest horse at this Final. “It’s been a dream of mine to represent the States at some level and so here we are and it’s great that there are two of us up here tonight!” he said when joining the considerably more experienced Madden on the press conference platform.

The second test may bring some significant changes, however, and with Belgium’s Pieter Devos (Espoir), Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Mar), Colombia’s Carlos Lopez (Admara) and Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow (Zacramento) also squeezed inside that top 10, and double-champion Steve Guerdat just a single point behind Ward in eleventh place, then the leaders have very little breathing room. And as Deusser said, “We had a very very good course because nobody went really really fast – I think all the horses are jumping good still and have enough power for tomorrow.” Power is what the second competition will be all about.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Beezie Madden and Breitling LS Win Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final I

Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Paris, France – With the poise, grace, and horsemanship that fans adore her for, Elizabeth ‘Beezie’ Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) guided Breitling LS to a win in the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final I (Jumping Speed Class), the first round of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final. The four-time Olympian was the first U.S. athlete of the evening to ride clear over Santiago Varela Ullastres’s course, stopping the clock at 61.89 seconds. Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour finished in second with 62.61 seconds, and Final newcomer and fellow American, Devin Ryan (Long Valley, N.J.), placed third at 62.84 seconds.

“I thought [Breitling LS] was fantastic today,” said Madden. “You know, I think this [class] is one of the hardest parts of the world cup. The courses get harder, but today is strategy and trying to execute it perfectly is difficult, and it went according to plan. He was fantastic; he was right there for me every time I called on him.”

Madden and the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Abigail Wexner come fresh off wins during the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival, including winning the $205,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Grand Prix CSI4* and the $205,000 CSIO4* Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix.

“He has gotten quite fast and he’s won quite a few classes in the last year,” continues Madden. “Some horses you might not take such a risk today because you need the horse to be rideable and careful for the rest of the competition, but those are his strong points: he’s rideable and he’s careful. So I thought it was okay today to take a shot.”

Madden won the Final in Göteborg in 2013 aboard Simon. When asked if she remembered what position she was in after the first class in 2013, she stated that she won that first class as well.

Ryan and Eddie Blue, the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC, made a splash in their FEI World Cup Jumping Final debut with a clear round, heading into the second class in the third position.

“I know I have a really good horse,” stated Ryan. “He has been competing very well in the States. It has always been a dream of mine to represent the United States, so here we are. I am very happy to be here, and it’s great that there are two of us up here tonight.”

View full results.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

I Just Know Can Spring Grand National Surprise

Photo: “Aintree Grandstand” by Paul (CC BY-SA 2.0).

The world’s most famous horse race, the Grand National, is coming up this weekend, and the race looks to be as competitive as ever. This is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and many people look forward to the race, ensuring they have a prime viewing spot to watch the action unfold whether they are at the track, out with friends or at home. Those who watch horse racing on a daily basis will be looking forward to the Grand National, as will those who tune into racing once each year to have a punt on the horses.

The latest Grand National 2018 odds show that the race is going to be extremely competitive, as it always is, and the favorite for the race is still not known. We usually see a late market move on the day, which can determine who will be sent off the favorite, and we look like having that again this year. Right now, the race for favoritism looks to be between three Irish horses, Total Recall (10/1), Tiger Roll (11/1) and Anibale Fly (10/1), and the English challenger Blaklion (12/1).

Further down the betting list, you will find a very interesting contender in I Just Know (22/1) for the Sue Smith yard. He won’t be one of the most popular Grand National betting tips that you see but he looks to have a great chance of running a big race at big odds. He won the North Yorkshire National in January, showing his liking for a grueling test of stamina like the one that will take place on Saturday. He had a nice prep run for this race over hurdles, and that should have put him spot on for the feature race on Saturday.

The latest weather forecast shows that Saturday should be a dry day at Aintree, something which should leave the ground on the soft side. That will suit I Just Know and this can help him run a very big race and certainly outrun his odds. The Grand National is often full of unlucky horses but I Just Know likes to make the running so he should be at the front and away from any potential trouble that will happen in behind him.

Sue Smith knows what it takes to win a Grand National and she has had a similar success in the past with outsider Auroras Encore winning the 2013 race. She will be hungry for another victory in the race and will be doing all she can to ensure that preparations go as smoothly as possible for I Just Know.

40 runners will go to the post on Saturday for the biggest horse race of the year and excitement surrounding the event is really building. The race looks to be as competitive as ever and many horses will go into the race with a chance of winning. At big odds, I Just Know from the Sue Smith yard can run a huge race and upset some of the bigger names by taking the 2018 Grand National.

Savonna Adell Joins Forces with JustWorld International as Newest Ambassador

Savonna Adell and Sportin Around. Photo by: SportFot.

Wellington, Fla. – April 12, 2018 – Up-and-coming junior rider Savonna Adell is passionate about equestrian sport, and now she is excited to be giving back to the sport and the community by joining JustWorld International as their newest ambassador. JustWorld International is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by funding local partners around the world helping children thrive. JustWorld’s involvement in the equestrian community provides unique resources for fundraising and a unique network for raising awareness.

“I am very excited to join the team of ambassadors at JustWorld International,” expressed Adell. “I understand the importance of giving back to the community and I am happy to be helping other children around the world. I am looking forward to volunteering at events and representing JustWorld at horse shows around the country.”

As an ambassador, Adell will act as a spokesperson for JustWorld in her local community, among friends, and at horse shows. She has also pledged to make an annual donation to benefit JustWorld, in addition to volunteering time to JustWorld events. JustWorld ambassadors can also choose to host fundraising efforts such as bake sales and Horseless Horse Shows. All proceeds from an ambassador’s event will go directly to a JustWorld project.

JustWorld International was founded in 2003 by equestrian, Jessica Newman. “I started to realize that there was a lot more out there and that I was living in a very privileged circle,” said Newman. “I’d done everything I wanted in the sport as a competitor and it was time to dedicate my life to doing something for others.”

For the past fifteen years, hundreds of Rider Ambassadors and supporters, including juniors, amateurs, and professionals from around the world, have changed thousands of children’s lives by helping with fundraising efforts and spreading awareness.

Adell is a 12-year-old junior athlete who is quickly climbing the ranks in equestrian sport, having recently been named Reserve Circuit Champion in the Large Children’s Pony Hunter division with Spellbound, after winning the championship honors during World Champion Hunter Rider week at the Winter Equestrian Festival. A Bloomfield Hills, Michigan native, Adell shows under the tutelage of trainers Gary and Kelsey Duffy of Little Brook Farms, based in Wellington, Florida.

www.justworldinternational.org

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Graves and Francis Primed to Compete for US in 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Paris, France – Two strong dressage combinations will represent the U.S. in the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France, April 13 and 14. Coming off high scores at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), both Laura Graves and Shelly Francis, and their horses, are prepared and ready to compete.

Meet the Athletes

Olympic bronze medalist Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) will look to defend her FEI World Cup Dressage Final second-place finish in 2017. She and Verdades, a 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes, were undefeated in their showing at the 2018 AGDF. The combination topped the leaderboard in the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week three, the Grand Prix CDI5* and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI5* during week five, and the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week eight. Earning one of their highest scores ever, an 84.975 percent in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle, Graves and Verdades are hoping to squeeze every point they can out of their tests in Paris.

“Omaha was an especially important event for us,” said Graves. “It is always terrific to ride in your home country, but this is my third World Cup [Final], and we’re here in Paris and honestly, just as excited. Hopefully, we are better than last year; hopefully we are better than we were yesterday. That is always our goal. It is also the first time [Isabell Werth] and I will be head-to-head since Aachen last year, where we were able to come out on top in the grand prix special. A lot of top competitors are here from other countries. We are certainly going to give it our best shot.”

Graves and Verdades were a valuable combination in The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team’s silver-medal finish and gold-medal finish in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ Germany, at CHIO Aachen, and the FEI Dressage Nations Cup The Netherlands, respectively, in 2017.

Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) will show at her first FEI World Cup Dressage Final with Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding. The combination placed second in the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week one of the 2018 AGDF. Francis and Danilo placed second in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle during week three of the 2018 AGDF with a 77.72 percent, earning Danilo’s highest freestyle score ever. The combination then posted a personal best score for their grand prix special test of 73.979 percent when they won the Grand Prix Special CDI4* during week 10 of the 2018 AGDF, then placed second in the Grand Prix CDI4*.

Although a new face to the Final, Francis is a veteran and skilled competitor, selected as the traveling reserve with Doktor for the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, as well as with Pikant in 1996 for the Atlanta Olympic Games and in 1998 for the WEG in Rome.

Competition Information

Competition for the Final begins Friday with the FEI Grand Prix at 9:30 a.m. EST. Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Freestyle begins at 8:00 a.m. EST, with its results determining the FEI World Cup Dressage Champion. Watch the live stream on FEI TV.

View more information about the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

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