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World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 Test Events Conclude

Chester Weber and team during the Cones phase. ©Sue Stickle Photography & ©TIEC.

TRYON, NC, USA – April 23, 2018 – Chester Weber (USA) maintained his hold on the lead through the Cones phase of FEI CAI 2* Four-in-Hand competition as part of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) Dressage, Driving, and Para-Dressage Test Events at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), guiding his team to victory after blazing cleanly through the Richard Nicoll (USA)-designed course. The all-American podium remained unchanged from day two: Weber landed on 159.38 points after three days, while Misdee Wrigley-Miller (USA) maintained second place after driving Bravour, Beau, Bolino D, and Calipso to a score of 173.34 on a clean run, and James Fairclough (USA) finished in third with Bento V, Citens, Dapper and Zenden on a final penalty score of 180.21.

Weber spoke highly of his day-three team, consisting of Amadeus, Asjemenou, Gouveneur, and Ultra, and explained that he added Gouvenuer into the team after testing potential WEG contender, Reno, in his place for the Marathon phase. “I drove the Dressage team again, which was my plan from the beginning and they were really nice,” he said. “I have a sort of inexperienced seven-year-old in the group [Gouvenuer], and I wanted to know what I had in him for a Cones leader and he actually did really well. I was really pleased with him.”

As he predicted, the Cones course had the essence of designer Nicoll and suited Weber’s driving style, but remained a true precision test for competing combinations.

“I thought the course was really nice. Richard [Nicoll] always tries to have a little bit of flow to the course, which was good and I thought it was fair in that way. We measure the course typically with a GPS watch, and there’s some margin of error there. When I measured it was 840 meters and they were saying it was more like a 750 – it was pretty obvious to me we were going to have to go really, really fast. I worked on trying to figure out how to get the time as good as I could, but it was still a big challenge.”

Speaking to the emotional connection he feels to Team USA and what representing the States in the fall would mean, Weber reflected on the shared history of his and teammate Fairclough’s careers, and said, “It means a lot to me to represent the United States. Ever since I was a young guy starting Driving, I always wanted to have a blazer with a [USA] patch on it and drive on the U.S. team. I think for all of the U.S. Four in-Hand team medals, Jimmy and I have been part of those teams. I think we hope to come here in the fall and try and secure a team medal for the U.S. It would mean a lot to me.”

Wrigley-Miller maintained her podium spot with a speedy round through the Cones phase and complimented the noticeable improvement in harmony for her team. “The team is really starting to gel and come together to work as a team and that was really what I noticed. They were all balanced together. I could really drive more forward, they felt great in my hands, and the obstacles drove so well,” she emphasized. “I just feel like we’ve been a work in progress and we made huge strides yesterday. I was really pleased with our Marathon, but I went back and watched the videos and thought, ‘I can go faster!’ So, I think the horses and I have good timing going forward.”

Wrigley-Miller was eager to contest the Marathon course and had good things to report: “From what I’ve heard, there will not be a lot of change in the obstacles – I think they’re beautifully built, and Richard [Nicoll] does such a great job of flagging them. He asks the right questions of horses and drivers. I think it’s going to be really great.”

While she made adjustments to the team between Dressage and Marathon, her horses remained as consistent as their results, and she used the same pairings for the final two days of competition.

“It was a good course,” she said of the final phase. “It was what I’ve come to expect from Richard – that you drive the lines. It’s Dressage training in Cones. The horses have to be supple and flexible and move forward with nice curves – it was a nice course. It had its little pieces that made us drivers think!”

For Fairclough, this week’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 Test Event was his first chance to drive obstacles and Cones since Live Oak International a month ago, and described how the weather at home had really thrown a kink in his ability to train, but had not dampened his competitiveness at TIEC.

“I didn’t spend the winter in Florida, so I went down for Live Oak International three weeks before, and Dressage was okay this week. I was pleased with the horses. It’s a long way to September before the FEI World Equestrian Games. For the Marathon yesterday, I hadn’t driven a hazard since I was at Live Oak because I went back home and had 13 days out of 27 with snow, so I wasn’t able to train that or Cones. Marathon was very nice. The horses were plenty fit, and I was happy with that. Cones today surprised me – I thought I’d be able to keep the pace up a little bit more, but I lost a lot of time at 10, 11, and 12. The footing has a [different feel] than grass, so it was difficult to make that time,” he added.

Like Weber and Wrigley-Miller, Fairclough is pleased with his experience at the venue, he said. “I think the facility is fantastic. It’s a work in progress, but it’s really nice when you get to do a Marathon on a golf course. I guess we got to use some of the hazards that will be used [in September], and the course was technical – tight if you wanted that option in a couple of them. I think the terrain may surprise some Europeans, but the valley where the obstacles are is very nice.”

Fairclough also hopes to return in the fall and emphasized the honor of representing Team USA. He said, “It’s wonderful to represent team USA and to have the Games here. The few times that we [Weber and I] have had the national anthem played for us, there’s nothing better. But, to be an ambassador for our country is really an honor. It’s a real thrill no matter what, when you do it.”

Perry-Glass Victorious in FEI CDI 3* Grand Prix Special

The FEI Grand Prix podium remained unchanged from Friday’s lineup, as the FEI CDI 3* Grand Prix Special presented by Adequan®, saw Kasey Perry-Glass (USA) dance with partner Goerklintgaards Dublet to an impressive score of 75.830%, taking the victory ahead of Adrienne Lyle (USA) and Horizon who finished in second on a score of 71.660%. Belinda Trussell (CAN) rode her own Tattoo 15 to third place honors with a score of 69.319%.

Perry-Glass and the 2003 Danish Warmblood gelding (Diamond Hit x Ferro) owned by Diane Perry put in a more relaxed effort without losing the energy of Friday’s winning ride. “My test, I felt, was a lot more thought out. After the Grand Prix, I was just really challenging myself to go in there and focus on what we do in the warm-up and get it in the show ring. That was my highlight. He’s so talented as it is, that he does everything really well, but I think the passage tour was really good, as well as his changes.”

Regarding “Dublet’s” reaction to the arena after a weekend of acclimation, she continued, “He’s still a spring chicken in there – he didn’t lose any motivation or any kind of spark. He was actually more relaxed, but with energy. That’s what all of his pre-show training was for, getting his mind really good, the aqua-tread, and all the work we do outside the arena. I feel like it’s really translated to his stamina and how he holds his energy.”

The pair is just coming back into competition after an eight-month break, and while the late start to competition schedule had Perry-Glass feeling uncertain before, she said the payoff was worth it, for both her horse and herself.

“With any athlete, I think you kind of need time to wind down to re-adjust and get your head right. I think for the last three years we’ve just been going and it was a well-needed break for us, for me too, and it just helps him come back stronger. Yeah, we’re starting our shows a little bit later than everyone else, but I think that he’s showing that he can be right up there with the others and I’m happy we did it. At some points we were questioning whether it was the right thing to do, to wait so long, but for us it really worked.”

Lyle and Elizabeth Juliano’s 2003 Oldenburg mare (Hot Line x Don Schufro) proved their consistency with another second-place finish and for Lyle, Horizon’s consistency is especially encouraging to see. She elaborated, “I was thrilled with her and how reliable she’s getting. To have a clean test in the third Special she’s ever done in her life – one of them being a national show and with her first CDI not even two months ago, for her to come into a new venue and prove that she can put in clean and consistent performances in this environment is a big deal for her. I’m very proud of her.”

Lyle also had Harmony’s Duval, another young horse, break into Grand Prix competition, and noted that she’s thrilled to see a long-term relationship with “Duval” truly succeed. “I’m really happy with him. I’ve had him since before he was saddle broke and we’ve done everything from Training level on up with him, so it was a really fun weekend all around to have such great rides on Horizon and then be able to finally get Duval into the Grand Prix ring after years and years of work,” she said.

Trussell and her own “Tattoo,” a 2003 Westfalen gelding (Tuareg x Ramiro’s Son), also remained consistent to place third on a score of 69.319% despite a bobble in one of the gelding’s usual highlight movements, she explained.

“I think the biggest change I see for him [since Florida] is that he’s getting a lot stronger in his passage work; he’s such an exuberant mover and to be able to access that and put it in the right direction [is improving]. I think that this show I had the best passage work that I’ve had yet in the ring itself. His highlight is his changes and today we had a mistake in the twos, which is not good, because I need those points, but those are also becoming more reliable and consistent, so that feels great.”

As an experienced competitor at FEI World Equestrian Games™, including appearances in Jerez, Spain, Lexington, KY, and most recently in Normandy, France, Trussell described her excitement for the Games to return to North America. “This venue was just fabulous to come here for the Test Event and to experience it and be a part of this. It was such a great stepping stone for us in preparation for WEG,” she said. “It’s so nice, as a North American athlete, to have this event in North America because we almost always have to go to Europe. It’s not so far, the horses don’t have to get on an airplane, for family it’s easier to come, and to have this quality of venue in North America is huge. I am so grateful for this facility, grateful for the United States to put this together and it’s wonderful,” she concluded.

The atmosphere was exuberant at the in-gate, especially for the large support wearing red, white and blue – the American entourage was in full force and both Lyle and Perry-Glass expressed gratitude for the strength of the USA contingent.

“We have an incredible support staff from all of USEF,” said Lyle. “They’re absolutely amazing and take care of any question you may have. You can call them in the middle of the night and they’re here to help you! It really helps to have such great backing, then beyond that, we have an incredible camaraderie between us as teammates,” she continued. “Laura [Graves] is here watching and cheering on, and we’re all really good friends. We say that all the time, but it’s not just for show – we all are really good friends. It’s really exciting to see everyone be so successful. It only elevates your own riding and your own training when you can be around people like that, and I feel very blessed that we are that way.”

Perry-Glass agreed. “You look down the ranking list, and even people that are not on the ranking list or that are on the B squad, it’s amazing to see that you’re so close to them.” She also noted the importance of this strong team unit as a team sport.

“There’s only one class that’s individual. Growing up in team sports, you have to have that camaraderie and be to be a team player. I think it elevates everyone’s sportsmanship and I think it makes you perform better. Plus, you can lean on them when you have questions or concerns or ideas, and especially in stressful situations.”

FEI CPEDI 3* Freestyles Wrap Up Weekend

In the CPEDI 3* Grade I Freestyle Test, Roxanne Trunnell (USA) and Kate Shoemaker’s Dolton stayed perfect to finish first with a 73.278%, while Laurietta Oakleaf (USA) rode her own Niekele Fan Busenitz to second receiving a score of 69.311%, and Winona Hartvikson (CAN) and Ultimo, a 2001 gelding (Invasor III x Teodoro) owned by herself and Jane Macdonald, earned third place honors with a 68.556%.

Trunnell, who represented the United States at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games™, as well as at the 2016 Paralympic Games, piloted a newer mount, and the pair was awarded overall champions of the show after three successful rides for the USA.

The Grade II Freestyle saw Jason Surnoski (CAN) and Phoenix score a 66.878% overtake fellow Canadian Sharon Buffitt and her own Elektra II, who scored 66.233%.

“I was very pleased with Phoenix,” commented Surnoski. “He did everything I asked for and I was just enjoying it. We’ve been working on trying to get him more up in his frame because he tends to kind of come down on me, so all week we’ve been trying to do that. I found that in this test in particular he kept it. I just enjoyed the ride.”

Surnoski began competing in the FEI CPEDIs two years ago, but has only had this particular ride for six months. “He’s a funny character, He loves attention and he loves his treats – the more treats he gets, the more he begs – and he just enjoys his job. It’s my first CPEDI with him and he’s nineteen, so he passed everything I could ask of him. Now it’s onward and upward.”

“It’s been a very difficult transition because he has a lot of movement when he’s going properly, and I’ve ridden many horses that don’t have that particular movement. This guy has a lot when he’s going well. So, even today I had a little bit of difficulty controlling it with my body, but I think I did a good job considering I bumped up my percentage each test,” added Surnoski.

Having declared for WEG, Surnoski will travel to Ottawa next month to contest another FEI CPEDI competition. With a strong desire to make the team at the forefront of his mind, he concluded, “I love that WEG will be here because it’s close to home. I’m from Toronto, so it’s like a fourteen-hour drive, depending on traffic, so it’s doable, and I’m hoping I can qualify and be here for it!”

The Grade III Freestyle saw a change in top placing, as Lauren Barwick (CAN) and her own Engelbrecht, a 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Vivaldi x Rimini 41) rode to blue and a score of 72.233%. The Grade IV Freestyle once again awarded Angela Peavy (USA) the victory, earning a score of 72.892% aboard Rebecca Reno’s 2008 Oldenburg mare (Doruto x Don Larino) Royal Dark Chocolate. Grade V Freestyle rider Katie Jackson (USA) rode her new 2003 Oldenburg gelding (De Niro x Welt Hit II) mount Diesel to a score of 70.608%, achieving their third first place honor.

For more information, visit www.Tryon2018.com and www.fei.org/tryon-2018.

More Millar Magic Helps Clinch Second Canadian Success

Photo: Jonathon Millar with Daveau. (FEI/Anwar Esquivel)

Team Mexico rallies brilliantly, but Team USA takes runner-up spot

In a case of “like father, like son,” Jonathon Millar (43) helped seal victory for Team Canada with a foot-perfect performance at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Mexico in Coapexpan. His legendary father, Ian (71), produced a pivotal double-clear to put their country at the top of the leaderboard at the opening leg of the 2018 North/Central America and Caribbean League qualifying series two months ago, so Jonathon was following suit. And adding even more of a family flavour to the excitement, Jonathon’s wife, Kelly Soleau-Millar, made her Nations Cup debut on the American side that lined up second ahead of Mexico in third.

It seems Millar has team spirit coursing through his veins due to the influence of his dad.

“I was brought up on Nations Cups and Championships being such a big part of his success, and it has rubbed off on me, knowing that being there for the team is more important than winning the Grand Prix – so when it all comes together like it did today then it’s a really great thing!” — Jonathon Millar (Team Canada)

The Canadian foursome that also included Laura Jane Tidball (40), Jenn Serek (35) and Keean White (35) already led the way after the first round of the three-nation contest, but their eight-fault total only gave them a single-fault advantage over the USA carrying nine, while Mexico’s 21-fault first-round effort put paid to their chances. However, in a brilliant second-round rally, Patricio Pasquel (Babel), Luis Alejandro Plascencia (Davinci) and Jose Antonio Chedraui Eguia (Ninloubet) did themselves proud with faultless runs to ensure they added nothing more to the host nation tally.

When impressive American pathfinder Alex Granato produced his second clear of the competition with the bouncy bay gelding Carlchen W, that kept the pressure on the Canadian leaders. But single errors from both Soleau-Millar (Cacharel) and Ali Wolff (Casall), and two mistakes from Jennifer Gates (Pumped Up Kicks), moved the US on to a final total of 17 faults. And this meant that although Tidball (Concetto Son) and Serek (Wicked) each left a single fence on the floor second time out, anchorman White (For Freedom Z) could stay in the clubhouse because even without his help Team Canada would finish with just 16 on the final scoreboard.

Millar was delighted with his 10-year-old gelding Daveau. “He didn’t do the Nations Cup in Ocala because it came too early in the season, but it’s been a really fun process working with him so far and now he’s coming into his own. He gives a thousand percent in the ring, he’s a real fighter and a dream to ride – I couldn’t be more proud of him!” he said. And he was proud and happy for his American wife too. “This was her first Nations Cup, and it was exciting and rewarding that we could do this together today, even on two different teams!”

His Chef d’Equipe, Mark Laskin, is already looking forward to the third and final leg of the North/Central America and Caribbean League, which will take place on home turf in Langley next month, and he was very pleased with the team effort. “We had a great group; they all contributed to our score and to our victory,” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Dressage, Para-Dressage and Driving Test Events Boast Positive Response on First Day

Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet. Photo Credit ©Sue Stickle Photography & ©TIEC.

TRYON, NC, USA – April 20, 2018 – The FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) Test Events for Dressage, Driving, and Para-Dressage disciplines began at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), and commenced with a victory for Kasey Perry-Glass (USA) aboard Diane Perry’s 2003 Danish Warmblood gelding (Diamond Hit x Ferro), Goerklintgaards Dublet, who bested the FEI CDI 3* competition presented by Adequan®. Perry-Glass and “Dublet” earned a score of 73.935% from the judging panel, as they head into Sunday’s FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3* in top form. Adrienne Lyle (USA) and Elizabeth Juliano’s 2003 Oldenburg mare Horizon (Hot Line x Don Schufro), captured second place with a score of 71.957%, while third place honors were awarded to Belinda Trussell (CAN) and her own 2003 Westfalen gelding, Tattoo 15 (Tuareg x Ramiro’s Son), receiving a 70.043%.

Perry-Glass is a first-time competitor at the venue, which will host FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 competition from September 11-23, 2018, and said she was thrilled when she first drove on property. “It’s amazing. I think this place is world-class and will be especially when it’s all done for the FEI World Equestrian Games™. I love it here. They’ve done a great job with all the stabling, the arena, and the atmosphere, so I’m excited for them to have the WEG here.”

Although the Tryon Stadium will host Para-Dressage CPEDI and the Dressage phase of the Eventing CCI come September and not Dressage competition, Perry-Glass complimented the overall venue atmosphere. “To ride in that arena [Tryon Stadium] is very inviting, and especially when it’s going to be full. It’s going to be really nice.” Dressage will be hosted in the main stadium at the venue, which will seat 20,000 spectators and will be assembled this summer, positioned adjacently to the existing Tryon Stadium.

In their second outing after an eight-month break from competition, Perry-Glass was pleased with her 2016 Olympic Bronze Medal mount. She elaborated, “He already feels better than he has ever felt. It’s just really fine-tuning the small things and getting his nerves out of the arena and focusing on me a little bit more, and the connection. Other than that he’s just a spectacular horse, so I feel very lucky to be on him. We’re hopefully shooting for a spot on the European selection squad, and then we’ll go from there and see what shows we can do in Europe.”

When reflecting on her test, Perry-Glass joked that “everything’s positive because he’s amazing,” but that some elements of their ride in particular pleased her. She commented, “His pirouettes have gotten really solid. I love those and they’re fun to ride. His changes are always really nice to ride. His piaffe passage is also great, and it’s really correct and good.”

“What I would like to nitpick on myself is just being able to ride each corner and focus on each corner. It’s so meticulous, but it’s so important, and that’s where his points are going to start coming up because he can do every movement. He’s trained and knows what he’s doing. It’s just preparing him for it and I think that’s where I have to get on myself for that.”

With experience representing the United States internationally, Perry-Glass emphasized the importance of hosting the FEI World Equestrian Games™ on home turf.

“It’s always a benefit to be on your home turf. I did the FEI World Cup™ Final in Omaha, NE, and just having that support from your own country and the majority of the crowd being American is important, especially for our really amazing squad that we have coming up. I think it’s going to be pretty spectacular.”

Para-Dressage Athletes Dominate on Day One of FEI CPEDI 3* Competition

The Para-Dressage Test Event showcased athletes from Canada and the United States in the main Tryon Stadium for the first time this season to familiarize with the ring that many will be competing in this September at the WEG. Victory in the Grade I Individual Test went to Roxanne Trunnell (USA) and Kate Shoemaker’s 2012 Hanoverian gelding Dolton (Danone I x Londonderry), receiving a score of 73.155%. The Grade II Individual Test was championed by Sharon Buffitt (CAN) aboard her own Elektra II, a 2005 Oldenburg mare (Radjah Z x Rastar), after riding to a score of 66.716%. Rebecca Hart (USA) rode Rowan O’Riley’s 2010 Oldenburg gelding (Fidertanz 2 x Don Romantic), Fortune, to the blue in the Grade III Individual Test, receiving a 70.147%.

Grade IV saw Kate Shoemaker (USA) secure first place in the Individual Test on her own 2009 Hanoverian stallion Solitaer, riding to a score of 71.341%.

“I really liked how consistent he was throughout the test,” commented Shoemaker. “It was an error-free test – there was never a moment that I thought, ‘Oh gosh, that wasn’t okay,’ so it’s really good to have that kind of consistency throughout the test. He stayed with me the whole time and it produced a really good result in the end.”

Shoemaker is looking to earn her spot on the U.S. Para-Dressage Team with the stallion (Sandro Hit x De Niro), and said, “I think everybody’s goal right now is to try and make the team, so we’re just going to keep pushing towards that and hope that we continue to have a good show this weekend and show the selectors that we’ve earned our spot to be there.”

“Having the home field advantage is huge for us – the fact that we get to get our horses in the venue and they get to see this, I think is a significant advantage, so we’re just really excited to be here,” she concluded.

Grade V competitor Katie Jackson (USA) has only been with current mount Diesel, a 2003 Oldenburg gelding (De Niro x Welt Hit II), for eight weeks, but has her eyes set on WEG as well. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind,” she explained. “We’ve been together with the focus of coming here for the Test Event for only a month and I’ve been riding him for about eight weeks, but Diesel is just a really incredible horse. I think the perfect analogy is from my coach, who said, ‘He fits you like a glove,’ and he really does. From the first day I rode him I asked, ‘Are you sure you’re not hiding another amputee somewhere?’ He understood my aids from the very beginning. He didn’t get nervous, he just said, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’ He’s such a hard worker and what a good boy.”

Jackson is a Clear Cell Sarcoma survivor and has been competing in the Para-Dressage discipline since 2015. Now ranked as number three on the FEI World Individual Grade V Rankings List, the Texas native has been focused on getting her new partner ready for competition.

“Until now, the focus really was getting him here and getting to bring him to his first CPEDI, so a big accomplishment for him today – but from here we’re going to go to Catherine Haddad Staller’s barn in New Jersey to continue training and potentially go to the CPEDI in Ottawa. Of course the goals for all of us right now are WEG and getting back in this arena in September.”

Jackson, who has competed at TIEC before, spoke highly of the facility, stating, “I love this venue. I think I said this last time when I was here, but it has that international feel. It is a really incredible atmosphere with excitement, but not distraction, and I really think that was it. He came in and schooled really well and was able to focus. It’s a really horse-friendly, rider-friendly venue, from the stabling to the warm-up and the arena.”

“There is a huge value to be here,” she explained. “That was one of the reasons we wanted to be able to come this week because the more times down the centerline in an international environment the better, and to be here especially – it gives the horses just a little bit more confidence in what’s going on when they come in September. It’s neat to be able to do this.”

Expressing an exorbitant amount of gratitude for her team and those who have helped make her journey possible, Jackson concluded, “I want to thank Diesel’s previous owner, Rowan O’Riley, for this opportunity and what she’s done for all of us as Para-Equestrians and for the sport as a supporter and for her generosity in making this ownership of Diesel possible. It’s just incredible, and to Catherine Haddad-Staller, my new coach – just for embracing Para-Dressage, stepping in and taking the reins. It’s been a blast. I’m grateful to both of them and to the team that’s formed around me.”

Wrigley-Miller Claims Leader Position in CAI 2* Driving Competition

Following the conclusion of the Dressage phase of FEI CAI 2* competition as part of the venue’s inaugural Driving event, Misdee Wrigley-Miller (USA) holds the lead heading into the Marathon on a score of 39.99. Chester Weber (USA) sits in second with 41.12 points, and third place is controlled by Allison Stroud (USA) after receiving a score of 49.97.

Wrigley-Miller considers herself a newcomer to the sport despite having competed at WEG in 2014, as she more recently added Driving to her lifelong experience in traditional saddle seat competition. She trains with Boyd Exell (AUS), the highest-ranked driver in the FEI World Cup™ Driving Standings, at his home base in Holland throughout the year and has gained valuable experience since 2014.

Coming to TIEC following a strong finish at the Live Oak International CAI 2*, she reflected on adjustments made to her team, composed of horses Bravour 54, Beau, Bolino D, and Calipso 85: “I’ve been playing with my leaders a little bit – I changed one of my leaders and that worked out really well for me. The horse that I drove in the lead at Live Oak wasn’t a confirmed leader and it just showed. With his inexperience, he didn’t really understand his job. I swapped him out with a horse that knew his job and he saved me a few times today,” she explained.

For the first Driving competition ever held at the venue, Wrigley-Miller said she was very impressed with the facility and looks forward to testing the Marathon track. “It’s looking like it’s going to be amazing. Number one, the barn facilities are the best I’ve ever seen at a show facility – the safety of the barns – it’s all top, top class,” she commented. “There’s no question that the venue is just absolutely gorgeous. We were going along by the creek today and it’s going to be very soothing tomorrow to hear the creek – it’ll be like a zen fountain!”

Wrigley-Miller has a busy schedule ahead of her this summer, as she plans to balance both her passion for Driving, as well as her love for competing Saddlebreds. She explained, “I’m headed to Europe from here and the horses will travel over to our base in Holland with Boyd Exell in his yard, and we’ll do Windsor to start. We’re not sure what’s after that because I’m the crazy woman that does two disciplines and my Saddlebred trainer has actually requested that I come back to the United States and do some Saddlebred shows. I’m just going to have to take a deep breath, but it might work out really well. I’ll come back to the States for a couple of weeks and do some shows and then we’ll ship everyone over here and wait for the decision of the selectors.”

Wrigley-Miller credits the expert advice of her mentor, Exell, for her increasing confidence in her abilities as a driver. She explained, “He has made me such a better horse person, overall, because he is a brilliant horseman. There is a reason he gets the results he gets. It’s because he studies horses. He knows horses. He’s the most horse-friendly trainer I’ve ever seen in my life and you never say ‘it was the horse’s fault’ – it’s never the horse’s fault. You gave the horse bad information. That’s the kind of horseman he is. His technical knowledge is so amazing that it’s no wonder he’s developed a great system on carriages.”

“He’s an engineer by training, so he’s just made such a difference. When I first started training with him I told him it was like learning how to drink water from the fire hose. Every day, even five minutes before I went in the arena today, he gave me another tool for my toolbox,” she concluded.

For more information, visit www.Tryon2018.com and www.fei.org/tryon-2018.

Spectacular Line-Up of Displays Announced for 75th Royal Windsor Horse Show

CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show is delighted to announce a spectacular line-up of displays at the 75th annual Show, taking place from 9-13 May 2018.

The Show has an exciting programme for its visitors throughout the week. Returning to Windsor, having previously performed at Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration in 2016, will be the Equestrian Federation of Azerbaijan, with their new performance ‘Land of Fire – Azerbaijan’.

The display celebrates the Karabakh horse, the native horse of southwestern Azerbaijan. Ten horse and rider combinations will be seen combining fast paced movements with tight turns and perfectly timed executions. They will be accompanied by the ‘Sarhadchi’ dance ensemble who will be performing traditional dances alongside two fire-jugglers performing a spectacular fire show. The performance, choreographed specifically for Royal Windsor Horse Show, demonstrates the strength and bravery of the Karabakh horse, and the courage and peacefulness of the Azerbaijan people.

Azar Hamzayev, Land of Fire – Azerbaijan Coach, said: “We are very excited to be returning to Royal Windsor Horse Show and to be showcasing a performance which captures our heritage, in front of the fantastic crowds. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate the Karabakh horse, and the traditional culture of Azerbaijan.”

The Household Cavalry Mounted Band will be adding to the line-up of equestrian displays. After being formed in 2014 by the union of The Band of The Life Guards and The Band of The Blues and Royals, the two mounted bands of the British army. The band today combines State Trumpeters, mounted, marching and concert bands as well as smaller ensembles. They will appear in their gold State Dress as they do whenever a senior member of the Royal Family is present. They will be performing alongside the Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry who appear every year at Royal Windsor.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “It is a landmark year for Royal Windsor Horse Show so we are delighted to have an exciting overseas display which is steeped in tradition alongside a wonderfully traditional British military band to join us in the 75th anniversary celebrations.”

Crowd favourites returning to the private grounds of Windsor Castle include The Land Rover Shetland Pony Grand National, where the mini jockeys and their Shetland Ponies fearlessly race head-to-head, as well as the DAKS Pony Club Mounted Games, which will see teams from the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales compete in a series of fast and furious races set to get the crowd cheering. Spectators can also expect to see The Musical Drive of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, the return of the Coaching Marathon, the Best Turned Out Trooper competition and the Skill at Arms amongst many other fascinating competitions and displays that can only be found at Royal Windsor.

To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show or to book tickets, visit www.rwhs.co.uk. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the box office on 0844 581 4960 from the UK and +44 (0)121 7966290 internationally. Windsor residents should call the Windsor Information Centre on 01753 743589.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk +44(0)7717 776928

The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event’s Transformative Power

The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, North America’s only CCI4* and the venue for the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship, takes place at the Kentucky Horse Park April 26-29 this year. Only a handful of riders each year get to take to the park’s manicured rings and rolling grass galloping lanes, and, when they do, many describe the experience as transformative — one that helped them and their horses learn, grow, and rise to a new challenge. The equestrians and their four-star horses occupy center stage at this important American event, but they’re not the only ones who make the competition tick: the numerous volunteers and officials behind the scenes also have an inspiring story to tell.

We asked a group of the Kentucky Three-Day Event’s veterans — not just riders, but also an owner, a licensed official, and a longtime volunteer whose team decorates the iconic Head of the Lake combination — to give us a glimpse behind the scenes with their first-person perspectives on the competition and on what this great sporting pageant means to them. Regardless of their roles, whether in the saddle or on the ground, all shared a common sentiment, the one that serves as the heartbeat of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event: it’s all about the horse. Read on for their perspectives on one of the country’s most famous competitions.

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From Equestrian Weekly
equestrianweekly@communications.usef.org

Madden Clinches Her Second Title in a Cliffhanger

Photo: FEI/Jim Hollander.

Fellow-American Ryan finishes a close second, Sweden’s von Eckermann takes third

America’s Beezie Madden (54) held on to win the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA), but she didn’t do it the easy way. In a cliffhanger of a second round she faulted for the first time over three tough days of jumping when last to go with the brilliant Breitling LS. And the crowd had to hold their breath until she crossed the line to a roar of approval, separated by just two penalty points from compatriot Devin Ryan (36) in second place.

The biggest surprise package of the week, the relatively unknown Ryan was relentlessly cool yet again as his apparently bomb-proof grey gelding son of the great stallion Zirocco Blue continued to make the super-tough courses designed by Spain’s Santiago Varela look fairly elementary.

The hard-luck story of the final afternoon was that of Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (37) who had to settle for third place for the second year in a row. In runner-up spot and carrying four faults as the afternoon began, he might have forced Madden into a jump-off but for a mistake with Tovek’s Mary Lou in the closing moments. He wasn’t forgiving himself for that. Madden knew she’d been in a fight.

“When I had that rail down, I was a little nervous, but I still felt my horse was jumping well and I knew I had to pull it together to finish on four (faults) and try to get it done!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

The rider who previously claimed the title in 2013 said it was “double-exciting” to post her second win, and particularly with this 12-year-old stallion. “We’ve really believed in him but he’s taken time to mature, so for him to come through today is fantastic! It’s taken a little while to replace Simon (her 2013 World Cup winning ride) and Cortes (team silver 2016 Olympic Games) but it’s happening!” she added.

Her two nearest rivals kept all the pressure in place when making no mistake in the first round, von Eckermann carrying his four points forward and Ryan still sitting on a total of six.  A little rattle at the oxer at fence three on the 13-obstacle course, and another at vertical no. 7 set American hearts beating a little faster, but Madden cleared the line with nothing to add, so the top end of the standings looked the same when the top 20 returned for round two over a new track.

And Ryan, who hails from Long Valley in New Jersey, did it again, steering Eddie Blue home with apparent ease once more. At just nine years old the horse was the youngest in the Final but you’d never have guessed. “His brain is unbelievable; he never knocked a pole as a five or six-year-old; he won the American Gold Cup as an eight-year-old and was second at Devon, one of our biggest shows in the US – he’s just a fantastic horse!” said the man who qualified from the US East Coast series.

Second-last into the ring von Eckermann knew he would pressure Madden with a clear, and he was beating himself up about having the second fence down this time out. “It was my mistake; my horse jumped fantastic as always, but we got too close and I interfered – I should have trusted her quality and it wouldn’t have happened,” said the clearly disappointed Swede.

You could hear a pin drop after Madden’s stallion hit the middle element of the triple combination at fence six. One more error would hand the title to fellow-American Ryan, but the lady who has two Olympic gold medals in her trophy cabinet along with a whole lot more valuable hardware didn’t crumble, bringing Breitling home with nothing further to add for a very popular victory.

Only five female athletes have taken the title in the 40-year history of the series that every rider wants to win, and they all have one thing in common. Like Madden, Melanie Smith (1983), Leslie Burr Lenehan (1986), and Katharine Burdsall (1987) all flew the American flag, while three-time winner Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum from Germany (2005, 2008, 2009) was born in Los Angeles, California. It seemed history was repeating itself, as Burdsall’s victory was also posted at exactly the same Paris venue when the Jumping Final was last staged in France 31 years ago.

The final standings showed three US riders in the top four places as 2017 winner, McLain Ward, slotted into fourth spot. The happiest of all was new double-champion Madden. “I love the World Cup Final – each year I make it a goal to get there, and to win, and I did it again!” said the lady who will be aiming join the elite club of three-time champions when the Final returns to Gothenburg in Sweden for the 23rd time next April.

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 Second Place at FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Paris, France – With the FEI World Cup Dressage Final title on the line, Laura Graves and Verdades defended their 2017 second-place finish with a personal record score Saturday evening in the Freestyle to Music in Paris. Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and the 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes finished on a score of 89.082 percent, just behind the reigning World Cup Final champion Isabell Werth (GER). Werth and Weihegold OLD scored a 90.657 percent, while Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Unee BB finished third on a score of 83.725 percent.

“I am very proud,” said Graves. “It feels like first place, and the horse won’t know the difference, that’s for sure. Now I have a little homework in my book bag and we will take that back and be prepared for the next time… I have to pay respect to my horse because without these top horses who want to do the job for us, who want to learn, who allow us to learn with them, none of this would be possible.”

The atmosphere was electric as first Graves, and then Werth, put on a show for the ecstatic French crowd. Chasing the title, both of these powerful, yet poised athletes, gave it their best and turned out performances aimed at contesting the FEI World Cup record of 94.300 percent set by Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro in 2014. In the end, it was Werth who came out on top, but Graves had much to be proud of. “Today, we are second,” she said. “But still a big personal best for us.”

The Olympic bronze medalist began developing this particular freestyle test back in December 2017 to her previous music. The program was designed to be very competitive, difficult, and technical. The test included four pirouettes – two full double pirouettes and two that were a pirouette and a half. The combination performed its first full left piaffe pirouette into the full right piaffe pirouette in Saturday’s Freestyle.

“He was super today,” continued Graves. “I was really pleased with the half-passes and keeping clean in all the changes. He really felt super rideable through the whole thing. We changed the music and I haven’t ridden to it since. We have added a second piaffe pirouette down the centerline. I was really proud of him doing the pirouette both ways and directly into the right pirouette. For me, that was really a highlight.”

Fellow American Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding, performed a freestyle to an acapella accompaniment, finishing 12th on a score of 74.189 percent. When asked about her first FEI World Cup Dressage experience, Francis replied, “It feels good. I feel like we redeemed ourselves a little bit from yesterday, so that is good. He really felt very good. He is really trying and likes his music, so it’s awesome.”

Complete Results

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