Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K. Photos copyright Sportfot.
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro Wow the Crowd with a Thrilling Performance; Kelley Farmer and Kodachrome Top $50,000 Duchossois Cup
September 24, 2016 – New York, NY – Saturday night at the 2016 Rolex Central Park Horse Show (RCPHS) featured a fantastic display of world-class dressage with a win for Ireland’s Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K in the $75,000 U.S. Open FEI Dressage Freestyle CDI 4*, presented by Axel Johnson, as well as a special freestyle demonstration from three-time Olympic gold medalists Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro.
Seven entries performed their grand prix freestyles set to music in the impressive atmosphere under the lights of Wollman Rink in New York City on Saturday evening for the $75,000 U.S. Open FEI Dressage Freestyle CDI 4*, presented by Axel Johnson. It was a packed house to watch the beauty and grace of dressage at its very finest in an incredibly unique setting.
With a high score of 77.051%, the win went to Ireland’s Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K, who were also the winners of the U.S. Open Dressage Grand Prix CDI 4*, presented by Axel Johnson, on Friday.
Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE) and Lovsta Stuteri’s Paridon Magi took the second place finish for the second day in a row, as well as the second year in a row, earning a score of 76.650% for their Saturday night freestyle performance. Third place honors were awarded to Denmark’s Mikala Gundersen aboard Janne Rumbough’s My Lady with a score of 72.400%.
Freestyle winners Vancouver K and Judy Reynolds represented Ireland in this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and then had a short break before making the journey to New York City for the opportunity to compete at this one-of-a-kind event. The 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding sired by Jazz, and owned by the rider’s parents Joe and Kathleen Reynolds, performed consistently to win back-to-back classes this week.
“It is kind of surreal really,” Reynolds remarked on the achievement. “I was probably a little bit more nervous tonight because I wanted to win again. I knew we had the capability of doing it, so I wanted to produce the performance of the night and I put more pressure on myself. I think it is fantastic. I certainly didn’t think this was going to happen when I came over here. For Ireland it is quite historic. I don’t think anybody has ever won two classes in one weekend at a CDI, so it’s nice to have done that.”
Reynolds got her start riding in Ireland and moved to Germany after college to continue training at a higher level.
“You essentially never stop learning; every day you still learn something new with these horses,” Reynolds detailed. “I am a believer that you need to compete against people who are better than you to be better, so when I was finished with college I made the decision to move to Germany. I had been quite successful in Ireland, and went to Germany and started at the bottom again, and I had to work my way back up. You were just against the best of the best, and it forced you to be better, so I kept going and it has gotten us where we are.”
To prepare for Saturday night’s freestyle, Reynolds actually watched video of her performance at the Olympic Games with Vancouver K.
“I watched back the freestyle from Rio so I could get a feel for the most recent version that we have ridden,” she noted. “I noticed that I could improve on a couple of timings. Tonight he wasn’t being quite forward enough for me, so I had to make up some time in a couple of corners to stay on music, but I didn’t really change anything as such.”
The pair’s next stop is the Dressage at Devon CDI-W in Pennsylvania since they are already in the U.S.
“We keep going next week at Devon. We are here, so we are going to make the most of it,” Reynolds detailed. “To be honest, I felt a touch rusty this week, so I think next week will be better. I will be looking forward to that and then we will continue our World Cup campaign. Then, depending on how it goes, we might be back in America for the Finals.”
Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven had a great night with Paridon Magi and also spoke of her freestyle performance on Saturday.
“I was actually very proud of him today. I thought he was really working with me and right on the aids,” Vilhelmson-Silfven remarked. “I was spot on the music where I wanted to be, so I had a great feeling and a great ride. I have been riding him in competition for a year, and I get to know him more and more. I am learning how to warm him up and how to make myself ready with him. Today was the first time I felt like I had a really good feeling.”
Third place finisher Mikala Gundersen had a fun first experience competing in Central Park with her mount My Lady this week and was happy with her result on Saturday night as well.
“I was just so excited to be here,” Gundersen stated. “I really enjoyed the whole thing, and the venue, and I am so excited to be in this horse show. My goal was to go in there and have fun. My Lady was a little rusty – we haven’t shown for a while. She was a little sucked back, but other than that I am proud of her for going in there and doing so well.”
Judge Katrina Wuest shared her comments on the event and great competition as well. She expressed, “I would like to mention the show itself, and the fact that these top riders come here shows that this event is worth coming to. New York I think for all of us is a magic city and this was a magic night. I think this is very important. We want to sell our sport and we have to sell our sport to help it grow and make it more and more popular. It is a sport that is difficult to understand, and we only can sell it with these magic moments. The rides here and the public showed that this was top sport.”
International Equestrian Group and RCPHS founder Mark Bellissimo added his remarks on the evening, stating, “I want to thank the riders and the competitors who came here this year. The riders were fantastic tonight and it was very competitive, so I have to thank them for taking time out of their busy schedules. It was an enchanted evening. To see the crowd stick around and the cheers for every ride I think was fantastic. We are committed to making dressage special in this country, and I want to thank Antonia Johnson. She has been the big sponsor of this event. Without her this event doesn’t happen, so we thank her for that commitment to the sport, along with Fritz and Claudine Kundrun.”
Following freestyle competition, three-time Olympic champions Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro did a momentous freestyle exhibition to the thrill of fans. Dujardin then let spectators come down to the arena to meet her world-famous mount in person. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many dressage enthusiasts and a memorable and incomparable moment at the RCPHS.
Valegro will have his official retirement from a record-breaking career in a ceremony at the Olympia Horse Show in London, England, in December, and finished out his competition career on a high note at the Olympic Games in Rio.
Valegro will still make public appearances, and after the very first of those non-competition performances on Saturday, Dujardin commented, “I think it is nice for me to be able to come into an arena now and not worry if I make a mistake. I can just go in there and enjoy it even more than when I was competing. Valegro is such a special horse and the consistency he has had is incredible. Now I don’t have to worry about that, and I can just have fun. It is nice for him to come and do these things as well. He loves meeting the crowd, and he loves the people. He was bombarded with people tonight, and he loves it. They were patting him, and hugging him, and kissing him, so what a nice end for him.”
Detailing her choice to retire Valegro this year, Dujardin remarked, “He is only 14 and he could do a couple more years, but to me I don’t feel that I have any reason to keep going with him. He has won absolutely everything. He holds every world record. He has been a horse of a lifetime for me. I would love everybody to remember him as the best horse he is, and after Rio I could not have asked for a better ride. It was just one of the most emotional and magical rides of my life, and I would hate for him to finish his career down. He owes me nothing, so why not finish at his best? It is not the end of Valegro. He is not going to compete, but he is still going to be around and people will see him, and I think that is very nice for him.”
After a fantastic experience for both horse and rider in New York City, Dujardin and Valegro will now return home to England. The Rolex Central Park Horse Show thanks them and all of the horses and riders that helped make this year’s dressage edition so special.
Kelley Farmer and Kodachrome Win $50,000 Duchossois Cup, Presented by The Gochman Family
While dressage took center stage on Saturday evening at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, hunter competition was the highlight throughout the day, featuring classes for pony, junior/amateur, and professional hunter riders in Wollman Rink. Jumping courses set by Kentucky-based designer Bobby Murphy, the three classes featured beautiful, hand painted fences and specially added decor for the unique afternoon of competition.
The $50,000 Duchossois Cup, presented by The Gochman Family, was the highlight event of the day session with a win for top hunter rider Kelley Farmer aboard Nine Moore’s Kodachrome. Fifteen entries jumped in round one, and the top ten then returned for a second hunter round to determine overall scores.
For Farmer and the eight-year-old Warmblood gelding Kodachrome, the judges awarded 88 points in each round for the winning 176-point total. Liza Boyd and Stella Styslinger’s O’Ryan finished second with scores of 87 and 88 for a total of 175. John Bragg guided Ann Thornton’s Early August to third place honors with a score of 173, earning 86 and 87 in their respective rounds.
Representing class sponsor The Gochman Family, Becky Gochman spoke about the second annual U.S. Open Hunter competition in Central Park and the great classes on Saturday.
“You never know when you start a new idea how it is going to end up and I think our second year was even more successful,” Gochman stated. “I think in the hunters, it is really important to be somewhat innovative, and I think this setting allows us to do that. I think this year’s addition of Caroline Passarelli, a 15-year-old announcer along with the usual announcer was a wonderful addition and something different. The great group of younger riders, amateurs, and young professionals, along with our great top professionals, gives validation to this horse show, and I hope it continues for many years because horses do belong in the city. They have a long history (here), and when we see a lot of people looking in and enjoying the horses as they are being led down to the ring, that is very meaningful, and that is what it should be all about.”
Gochman continued, “We wanted the riders starting at a young age to be able to do this too. Not everybody that came this year was qualified for the other national shows, so I think it is very cool that people came from all over the country and got to experience something like this. I was very proud of that fact. For me, this is about the innovation, and to have the music, and the artistic jumps, and Bobby Murphy course designing – New York City is about innovative things and art, and the hunters are an artistic form, so I think it really goes together.”
Farmer also competed in Central Park in the inaugural year of hunter competition in 2015 and was proud to come back and get the win this year. She was aboard a great horse that has earned many top results throughout the season.
“I want to say thank you to Becky and David Gochman and all the other sponsors that put this on,” Farmer remarked. “This is amazing to be in the middle of Central Park in this venue. It is pretty unbelievable. What a beautiful class.
“As far as my horse goes, I have to thank his mom (Nina Moore), and I have to thank the horse,” Farmer continued. “He is a lovely animal and he has done nothing but try to be amazing since I have gotten him. I am very lucky to be able to have a horse like that to ride and an owner like this who likes to come see this and wants to support it. For them to put on this event is amazing, so I am very lucky.”
Speaking further about Kodachrome, Farmer stated, “I think that horse speaks for himself when he goes in the ring. He tries to go his best every time. He is such a good jumper. I don’t ever have to worry. All I have to think about in the ring is being smooth. He is so rideable; there are not a lot of concerns except staying out of his way and letting him do the job.”
Owner Nina Moore also remarked on the event and watching her horse win in one of the world’s most famous venues.
“As an owner, a lot of times you go with a trainer and have to have a little bit of faith,” Moore noted. “This particular horse has done everything I was told he could do. I know the trainers always want them to be that, but how many times does lightning strike? He has just been everything.
“To be lucky enough to get invited to something like this and have sponsors like the Gochmans who do this – you go to horse show after horse show, but you don’t see these fences, and the support that they are giving this industry is incredible. To bring it out to the public like this and to see your own horse under such circumstances with skyscrapers in the back and such beautiful fences, it is kind of a fairytale. It is a very neat thing to have happen.”
Second place finisher Liza Boyd spoke about her mount O’Ryan and her experience competing in Central Park as well. Boyd also praised the addition of young announcer Caroline Passarelli this year.
“I think that the addition of Caroline was amazing, that was really spectacular,” Boyd stated. “Thank you to the Gochman Family, and everybody involved. Bruce Duchossois was a part of this too, and we love him and miss him, and I think he would have loved it.
“As a rider, I felt like I rode better this year because I knew the ring and I had a better feel for it,” Boyd noted. “I just knew to change my ride a little bit, and it paid off. The horses amaze me that these hunters come in here with this atmosphere and go as well as they do. I think these hunters are just getting better and better because of classes like this. The Bellissimos having all of these big hunter events is just great for the hunter industry and only helps us riders, so thank you all. My favorite part is the walk from the schooling area to the ring. It is very surreal when you are just bonding with your horse walking through Central Park. It is something I have never experienced. You feel very special as riders, and the hunter riders appreciate this very much.”
Speaking of her mount, Boyd detailed, “I love O’Ryan. He is a good guy. He is a 14-year-old that is very seasoned. He went with his owner in the junior/amateur class earlier and was third, and then he came back and tried his heart out for me. The horse is a real trier and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
John Bragg came all the way from California to compete in Central Park and made his trip worthwhile with a third place finish aboard Early August. Explaining his decision to make the journey, Bragg stated, “They called me and asked if I was interested in coming, and I was already coming for the indoor circuit and other horse shows back East, so I thought it would be a nice way to start. My clients were thrilled to come here, and we really love New York. The next four weeks we have horse shows on the East Coast, so it was unbelievable to be invited to come and participate here.”
Bragg was aboard a young horse in eight-year-old Early August, a Belgian Warmblood gelding that he imported just over one year ago.
“He shows in the First Year Greens, so he is probably less experienced than a lot of the horses in the class, but he is pretty brave and willing. That is why I chose him,” Bragg detailed. “It’s a nice horse.”
Remarking on his preparation to compete in Central Park, Bragg noted, “I didn’t really know what to expect since I had not been here. We prepared like a normal horse show. Warming up this morning was pretty good, and then the light changed and I was a little worried, but I think it is really good experience for us and our horses to be put in different situations to learn and get better. There is a lot of pressure to jump those jumps at that height, and to do well with the different types of jumps that they use, so I think it is really great.”
While the competition welcomed young riders on ponies in the arena, young equestrian Caroline Passarelli also enjoyed the opportunity to commentate on the fantastic classes and hopes to do more in the commentating business and horse industry in the future.
“It was such an amazing experience to be in the presence of such greatness all the way from the ponies to the professionals,” Passarelli stated. “Every person you watched go in was another riding lesson. I don’t think it’s possible for me to be any more fortunate. It is a great experience, and I have learned so much just in today alone. Being able to watch these professionals go in and lay down trip after trip on such beautiful animals is really something I am so thankful for.”
Mindy Coretz and Zola Thompson Earn Hunter Classic Wins
The $2,500 Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic was held earlier in the afternoon on Saturday at the RCPHS and saw a win for Mindy Coretz, of Tulsa, OK, riding Eighteen Acres Farm’s Happy Hour to a high score of 80. Teddy Vlock and Century Performance Horses’ At Last placed second with a score of 78. Stella Styslinger guided her own O’Ryan to a third place finish with a 77-point total.
Coretz trains at home with Libby Barrow at Farewell Farms and had the help of hunter trainer Hope Glynn in New York on Saturday. She is currently in her final semester of college at the University of Tulsa, studying Business Management.
Coretz had just finished showing for the summer and decided she could not make it to this year’s fall indoor competitions because it would cause her to miss too much school, but when a couple of other opportunities came up, including a chance to compete the RCPHS, they were too great to pass up.
“I got my horse home from Kentucky and was going to give him some time off, and about 24 hours later I saw something promoting the Chicago Hunter Derby, and I thought that if I could not do indoors I could find another fun little outing,” Coretz explained. “As it turned out, I made going to Chicago Hunter Derby happen and then tied it into coming here. I heard so many good things about this show last year, and my horse has really matured so much and done some amazing things for me, so I thought it was a good time to give it a try.”
Winning horse Happy Hour is a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (by Argentinus) that Coretz purchased last summer.
Coretz said of Happy Hour, “He is really special, and he has done some really cool things for me. I have had the opportunity to do some things this year that I never thought I would be able to do, and I jumped some classes that I never thought myself capable of jumping. It has been a really fun ride, and I definitely owe it all to him.”
Though Coretz has three exams and a paper due on Monday and will head straight home to study, the memory of winning a class in Central Park is something the rider will remember forever.
“There is nothing like it,” Coretz said of the experience. “Forget riding, before you ever even get on a horse, just being here, walking behind the green barricades and people taking pictures. When you are in the schooling ring, there are all these onlookers crowding around the barricades trying to get a glimpse of these horses and reaching across trying to say hi. The same thing walking to the ring; there are cameras and tourists, and it is really cool. There is nothing else I have ever seen that is anything like it. Then you finally walk down here into this ring, and you have the New York City skyline, and it is unbelievable. I was so adrenalized out there just because of the atmosphere.”
The $1,000 Pony Hunter Classic also gave some younger riders the experience of competing in Wollman Rink in front of the New York City skyline and saw a win for 12-year-old Zola Thompson of Birmingham, AL. Zola trains with Jack Towell and Liza Boyd at Finally Farm and guided Robin Greenwood’s Elegance to victory with the high score of 85. Baylee McKeever rode Lee McKeever’s Greystone’s Star Bright to second place with a score of 75. Lucy Thornhill and her own Sneaky Fox placed third with a score of 74.
“This is my first time at the Central Park Horse Show,” Thompson stated after her victory. “At first I was really nervous, but I talked to my sports psychologist, Margie, a few days before we came and she told me to keep calm and to take one thing at a time. I was scared because it was only one trip and I didn’t want to mess it up, but she told me that everyone else only gets one trip too and to not be nervous. I just kept calm and I have a breathing exercise that I do that keeps me calm before I go in.”
Thompson has ridden Elegance (aka Ellie) for almost one year and was very happy with the mare on Saturday.
“She has been really great. She is really calm and smooth,” Thompson described. “She is a really fun pony to ride and she has a really great jump, so I am thankful to be riding her.
“When I heard that I got an 85 I was really excited,” Thompson continued. “It was just so unreal. It was a really great experience to show here, and we hope to come back next year.”
The 2016 Rolex Central Park Horse Show (RCPHS) concludes on Sunday, September 25, with Family Day at Wollman Rink and Free General Admission. The day’s activities include pony rides, face painting, a Show Hunter presentation, and more! Gates are open 12:00-3:00 p.m.
The $216,000 FEI Grand Prix CSI 3*, presented by Rolex, and Friday night ceremonies will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, September 25, from 9-10:30 p.m. EST. For more information and full results, visit www.centralparkhorseshow.com.
About Rolex Central Park Horse Show
Launched in September 2014, Rolex Central Park Horse Show is the first-ever outdoor, multi-day equestrian sporting event in New York City, showcasing some of the best show jumpers and dressage riders in the world as they vie for top prizes against a backdrop of skyscrapers in one of the world’s most iconic venues. As the event founder, Mark Bellissimo is the CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions and International Equestrian Group LLC; Managing Partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEF), Tryon Equestrian Partners and Colorado Equestrian Partners; and Publisher of The Chronicle of The Horse magazine. The Rolex Central Park Horse Show will feature five days of multi-discipline equestrian sport and performances, ranging from Arabians and Dressage to Hunters and Show Jumping. The Rolex Central Park Horse Show will also host the second annual U.S. Open in the following categories: Jumpers; Dressage; Hunters; U25 Jumpers; and Arabians. For more information, visit www.centralparkhorseshow.com or Facebook at www.facebook.com/CPhorseshow and follow @cphorseshow on Twitter and Instagram.