Shannon Dueck and As You Wish (photo by Joana Jodko)
Wellington, FL (April 2019) – Every ending is a new beginning, as the saying goes, which is especially true in Wellington, Florida when the winter season ends with the Gold Coast Dressage Association (GCDA) Season Finale 1 and 2 shows. These shows not only spotlight some of the best dressage riders and horses in the world, it also signals that the robust summer dressage season is officially underway in South Florida. GCDA President and Finale Show Manager, Noreen O’Sullivan, states it best: “It’s the finale of the winter season, but really, it marks the beginning of our summer season,” she says, “So, as a close-out to the end of the season, we had three show rings over the weekend with a very wide representation of rides across all levels. We had some really nice up and coming young horses, and some new horses for people, and some very cool personal bests at the shows this year.” O’Sullivan goes on to explain that the finale actually counts as two one-day shows, with one being a young horse qualifying show for North American Youth Championships (NAYC) and also for Lamplight. The impressive display of equine athletes and their elite riders was one that could only be found in April in Wellington, Florida, which was reflected in the scores and many awards presented during the shows. Highlights of the finale included outstanding performances and special recognition for riders Bent Jensen, Kelly Lane, Cesar Parra, Heather Bender, Shannon Dueck, and Ali Potasky.
Olympian Bent Jensen was awarded the Diana Zakharova International Sportsmanship Award during the finale to recognize his competitive spirit, effort, and fine horsemanship that he brings to Wellington as an international rider. Jensen is originally from Denmark and has been in the US for 30 years. Starting out as a champion show jumper, Jensen made the switch to dressage, which lead to a trip to the Olympics in 1992. Today, Jensen trains out of Blue Marlin Farm in Little Ranches. His performance on his beloved mount, Chance, during the finale demonstrated his love and commitment to the sport of dressage. Diana Zakharova is also a well-known member of the Wellington dressage community who is originally from Russia. She created the award to celebrate her fellow international riders.
Also receiving special recognition was Kelly Lane for winning the USEF Third Level-Test 1 on her horse, Rockpool, with a score of 72.838%. This class was sponsored by equine health company, Omega Alpha, and Lane was presented with a lovely prize package which included an assortment of popular Omega Alpha all-natural health products.
Another celebrated Wellington dressage rider, Dr. Cesar Parra, scored a personal best in the FEI 7-year-old division with a 76.746% riding GK Sir Beckmann (Sir Donnerhall x Witchita). The ride was rewarded with the Semican Achievement Award.
Heather Bender also rode away with a personal best score in the FEI Grand Prix when she and the gorgeous Zairo Interago rocked a 72.500%, and Shannon Dueck was thrilled when her wishes came true with a high score of 81.200% in the FEI Young Horse on her 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding, As You Wish (a.k.a. Westley).
The most jaw-dropping score awarded during the finale went to Ali Potasky for her ride on Irintha in the FEI YH Test for 6-Year-Old. The pair landed a whopping 87.4% for their performance, and once again, proved the level of excellence that can be found in this world class competition hosted by the GCDA.
The Gold Coast Dressage Association is a USDF Group Member Organization that is committed to providing educational programs, clinics, shows, and seminars aimed at promoting and upgrading classical riding, and to offer a framework in which individuals can progress with the schooling of themselves and their horses. The 2019 GCDA show season originally kicked off with the Gold Coast Opener held on January 17-20 at The Global Dressage Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.
Coming up quickly is Gold Coast May Dressage, to be held on May 18-19 at the Palm Beach Equine Sports Complex. GCDA President Noreen O’Sullivan is excited to see what this show and the rest of the year holds for all members, and she thanks all of the valuable sponsors for their support. She also wishes members and all show competitors the very best for them and their wonderful dressage horses for the rest of 2019 and beyond. For more information about the GCDA and upcoming shows, visit www.gcdafl.org.