Tag Archives: Laura Graves

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

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

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

Laura Graves Sets New AGDF Record High Score with Astonishing Freestyle

Laura Graves and Verdades. Photo Credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL — March 2, 2018 — The USA’s number one dressage combination Laura Graves and Verdades proved their prowess beyond doubt with an astonishing performance in the Grand Prix Freestyle CDIW, presented by U.S. Trust & Bank of America Merrill Lynch. They scored 84.975% during “Friday Night Stars” under the floodlights in week eight’s headline class of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida. It is the highest score ever achieved at AGDF.

Second-placed Adrienne Lyle rode Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s Salvino to another record: the highest score in her long international career, 78.275%. She rode to music made for her former top ride, Wizard. Juan Matute Guimon put a couple of glitches aside to log 73.8%, good enough for third on his father’s Don Diego Ymas, by Don Frederico. The 20-year-old Spanish rider became a U.S. citizen two weeks ago; he’ll remain riding for Spain in 2018 before deciding whether to switch nationalities for competitive purposes.

Graves has now performed an extraordinary ‘triple double’ on the 16-year-old son of Florett As, having won both the grand prix and freestyle classes in all three weeks they have competed at AGDF this season. It came close to Graves’ best ever score of 85.307%, achieved to stand reserve champion at the FEI World Cup Final in April 2017 in Omaha, Nebraska.

“It was fun to come out every ride and have some new things to talk about with my coach Debbie McDonald,” said Graves, who is ranked number four in the world. “I had some brilliant lightbulb moments for myself with my own riding tonight, which is super exciting. We don’t go in there just to tack on miles; there’s always a purpose, and tonight was no different.”

Graves is “groom-less” for the week, so her fellow team bronze medalist from the Rio Olympics, Kasey Perry-Glass, has been helping and was awarded the $500 grooms’ award from Adequan®.

Graves has fully embraced the FEI’s new degree of difficulty calculating system, and her test leveraged the degree of difficulty score to the max. It included four double pirouettes linked together by huge tempi changes straight down the center line. If it weren’t for a spook near the judge at C just after one of the pirouettes, the score would have been even higher.

“I’m still learning to ride this horse when he’s as hot as he is,” said Graves. “He’s super duper hot in this atmosphere and it’s a bigger atmosphere than some of the indoor shows. And when we do three shows here under the lights, the structure and repetitiveness really gets him fired up. It gives me a lot to work with, but I always embrace difficult experiences because it puts me a little ahead of the game for next time, hopefully.”

Lyle was returning to the AGDF’s “Friday Night Stars” for the first time in four years — the last time she rode Wizard on the circuit.

“I was dying to get back out there,” she said. “It was Salvino’s first time under the lights doing a freestyle, so that’s a big unknown, but I was completely thrilled with how he handled everything — he was probably even more relaxed and easy going than in the [grand prix] test. I wanted to give him a good experience, give him confidence, and make it something he’d enjoy in the future. I think we accomplished that.”

Matute Guimon’s bold riding — he began with an extended canter down the center line straight out of the first halt — was richly rewarded, despite a few sticky moments in the piaffe.

“I was surprised and happy with the score and placing; it was quite an electric test,” he admitted. “But it felt fresh and active with a lot of expression, and it was a goal to add more impulsion and competitive attitude. We were really trying to go for it.”

On the question of which flag to ride under, he added: “It’s a huge, emotional decision that will determine the future of my career. It’s very difficult because I love Spain and am very attached to it, but at the same time I did grow up here and have actually lived in the U.S more than half my life and have been given so many opportunities here.”

Judge at C Anne Gribbons praised the standard of riding, and the winner in particular: “I was very proud of the two American horses and I think they were outstanding,” she said. “In Verdades’ first two movements he was tense, but then he was ‘on’. I think this was probably Laura’s best freestyle overall; in the piaffe the horse got it together, he sat down and really did a good job. And Salvino is amazing for being so green. He’s very calm and happy in his skin. This is very promising for the team to have these horses.”

The class was the final FEI World Cup qualifier in North America, and confirms qualification for both Graves and Shelly Francis. The Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz has secured the spot for non-league riders.

Graves and Verdades can next be seen in public during week 12 of the AGDF, when they will give a demo of their spectacularly technical freestyle. Lyle and Salvino are working on a new arrangement with Terry Gallo, who is also responsible for Graves’ music. If it is ready, Lyle will debut the new routine in competition in week 12.

The iconic Palm Beach Dressage Derby exhibition class, presented by Yeguada de Ymas, culminated during the break in the freestyle. Germany’s Christoph Koschel, the defending champion, retained his title. The senior team championships medalist has achieved the remarkable feat of not only successfully defending his Palm Beach Dressage Derby trophy, to his list of Derby wins that include the Hamburg and Munich classes, too.

“It was challenging and a lot of fun,” he said of his ride in the final on Fausto, a 10-year-old bay gelding by Fidertanz normally ridden by Karen Pavicic. Both Koschel and Canada’s Brittany Fraser made it through to the final in the afternoon’s head-to-head knockout-style contest, beating Juan Matute Guimon and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (USA) in the process. In all rounds, riders have just five minutes to familiarize themselves with an unknown horse before they perform a prix st georges test.

“This is what horse sport is about,” added Koschel, whose 66.588% edged out Fraser’s 65.206%. “It’s a very short period of time to build a partnership, but it’s great for the audience to watch. We need more classes like this to help make the sport exciting and accessible. I really liked the horse even though he was spooky to start with. And if I rode him again, I’d definitely choose smaller spurs as he was more sensitive than I was expecting!”

In the Intermediate I CDI3* class, presented by ProElite®, the top two from the prix st georges contest were reversed, with victory on this occasion going to the USA’s Jan Ebeling on Sergio Leone with 68.529%. Canada’s Tom Dvorak was just 0.19% behind on Cyrus.

Ebeling has been competing Sergio Leone less than a year, and they have a dozen FEI small tour results to their name. He is owned by Ann Romney, who also owned Ebeling’s Olympic ride Rafalca. This was the 10-year-old Sir Donnerhall x Stedinger son’s second international win.

In the FEI Prix St Georges CDI1*, only one combination breached the 70% tidemark: Spain’s Pablo Gomez Molina rode the Yeguada de Ymas’ 10-year-old mare Finest Ymas, a Westfalian by For Compliment, to 70.245%. This was their first ever CDI class. Another European rider, Germany’s Michael Klimke, filled second with 68.824% on Harmony Sporthorses’ Harmony’s Diabolo, who is just eight years old. The son of Kristina Sprehe’s Olympic stallion Desperados was performing only his third FEI test. The top American, Tina Konyot, finished third on Diamantino II, who is also by Desperados. They scored 68.382%.

Gomez Molina, 24, said: “I’m so proud to hear the national anthem and so happy with ‘Fifi’. It was our first CDI and what better way to start than with a win?”

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Palm Beach Derby Week Kicks Off with Another Win for Unstoppable Laura Graves at AGDF

Laura Graves and Verdades. Photo Credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL — March 1, 2018 — It was the last three riders in the Grand Prix CDIW, presented by U.S. Trust & Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who filled the top three spots, making it an all-female, all-American podium in the highlight class of the opening day of action of during week eight of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

Laura Graves and the 16-year-old gelding Verdades emerged victorious with over 78%, despite a blip in the one-time changes that was rewarded with fours and fives from the five-strong panel of judges. The pair is ranked fourth in the world and, in 2016, were instrumental players in bringing home the team bronze medal from the Rio Olympics.

Adrienne Lyle finished second with a convincing, mistake-free ride on Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s Sandro Hit stallion Salvino for 74.457%, with Chase Hickok and Sagacious HF filling third with 69.5%.

“Nothing went wrong that I can’t take the blame for,” said Graves, 30, who was riding in sweltering Florida temperatures and claimed her fifth consecutive victory. “I was super, super happy with how he went in this heat; we had a hot show at the five-star show also and it’s nice to know — looking ahead to the World Games in Tryon — that our horses are fit in this weather. And he [Verdades] is super fit. He came out sweaty and breathing, but not even a hint of feeling like he was out of steam.”

On the contrary, ‘Diddy’ finished the test’s final center line with his customary power and enthusiasm, snorting and powering into the final halt.

“Kasey Perry [who was also on the team at the Rio Olympics] is helping me this week as I’m groom-less, and her husband Dana actually calls him ‘Diddy Dino’,” added Graves, who is seeking FEI World Cup final qualification through these performances.

“With a horse with as much experience as he has — now in his fourth year of grand prix — we’re looking at our path to Tryon a little differently than perhaps some of the others are,” said Graves. “I don’t want to have to show him a lot, so I’m going to try to be where I have the toughest competition, and that looks like the World Cup Final and probably Aachen, where we get to go head-to-head with some of the other top five in the world. We want to know where we stand going into North Carolina.”

Graves credited the horse’s workmanlike attitude with his ongoing ability to perform at the top.

“He’s so ambitious you think that it would be in his nature to try to predict the movements now he knows the test so well, but he’s so respectful when you’re riding that he waits — he waits all the time,” added Graves, who owns the horse with her partner Curt Maes. “And if he waits too long and you have to make a little correction, he feels guilty for a week. He’s very smart like that. He doesn’t want to rush and I get the feeling that he really likes it. He lets me ride every step still; it’s rather amazing.”

In the Grand Prix CDI3*, presented by Peacock Ridge, the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz replicated her wins last month on the 13-year-old Belgian warmblood Foco Loco W.

In a class of 20, Losos de Muñiz scored 71.13% to take the blue ribbon, leading an all-female podium. Canada’s Belinda Trussell — last to go on her own Tattoo 15 — filled second place with 70.022%, with the USA’s Katherine Bateson Chandler finishing third on Jane Forbes-Clark’s Alcazar (69.283%).

This was Losos de Muñiz and Foco Loco W’s best grand prix score to date, and follows hot on the heels of their double win in week five of the 2018 AGDF.

Canada’s Tom Dvorak, rode Carla Bahr’s nine-year-old gelding Cyrus to victory in the Prix St Georges CDI3*, presented by ProElite®, edging out the USA’s Jan Ebeling on Sergio Leone. Dvorak was recording the son of Contucci’s first win of the season, having been in touching distance already three times during the 2018 AGDF.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Laura Graves Posts Highest Ever AGDF Score in Week Three

Photo Credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL – January 26, 2018 – Laura Graves and Verdades comfortably captured the FEI World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle presented by US P.R.E. Association with a mesmerizing performance on her own and Curt Maes’ 2016 Rio Olympic team bronze medalist, Verdades. The pair’s emphatic 84.675% is the best score ever given at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF).

Ranked fourth in the world, Graves and Verdades’ floorplan exudes complexity, and includes passage half-pass, two-time changes on a curve melting into one-times and ultra-steep trot half-passes.

“He is such a hot horse that I rode him three times today,” said Graves, 30, who trains with Debbie MacDonald. “We brought him out at lunch time and with the wind he was a little crazy and we were a little concerned as we know what he can be like. But I am excited about this score – and the score from the grand prix [79.63%].”

Graves crafted the test, which carries a high degree of difficulty, for the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy when she was unexpectedly selected.

“I was thrown into the fish tank that year, so I studied all the other riders’ floorplans. And the music comes from Rudy, a football movie about an underdog kid,” said Graves, who admitted that she had actually arrived at the show without her music and had to have a new copy burned.

Although this was their third highest score ever, Graves will be altering the floorplan ahead of the CDI5* AGDF show (February 8-11).

“He’s such a clever horse that he guesses what’s going to happen, which is why we’re going to change it,” she explained.

The podium order was unchanged from the previous day’s grand prix: Sweden’s seven-time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén filled second on Lövsta Stuteri’s 15-year-old gelding Paridon Magi (by Don Primero) with 79.05%, while home rider Shelly Francis partnered Patricia Stempel’s ever-improving 14-year-old Danilo, by De Niro, to third place with 76.15%.

Vilhelmson Silfvén had to ride in one of the rain squalls that passed over.

“Magi felt extremely electric, and it’s hard to ride outside when there’s a lot of wind – the rain is okay – but generally the test felt really good. He’s a fun horse to ride in the freestyle because you can do difficult things on him,” she said.

Francis said: “I’m so happy with my horse; he’s getting much more honest in there. He’s hot, but he’s now using the hot to come to work with me. We had a little mistake in the one tempis, but he came right back to me.”

All three riders are aiming to qualify for the FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Paris in April and, ultimately, the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon in September.

American judge Janet Foy, who was presiding from C, said: “Two of us judges here are also judging at the World Cup final – plus we’ve done other qualifiers in Europe – and these top three rides were wonderful and would fit right in in Paris.”

During the freestyle break, Danish Olympic rider Andreas Helgstrand – who has recently set up a sales barn in Wellington – gave a masterclass for spectators featuring PRE horses. American under-25 rider Kerrigan Gluch and Danish team member Mikala Münter were the test riders, with Münter riding 73-year-old Janne Rumbough’s grey international grand prix horse Junior ahead of his imminent retirement.

Heather Blitz (USA) bolstered Praestemarkens Quatero’s 2018 resumé further by landing the day’s Prix St Georges CDI3* class, presented by Triple Crown Nutrition, adding to their two small tour wins in week one of the 2018 AGDF. In this class, Blitz was the only rider to crack 70%, scoring 70.324% on her own nine-year-old Danish warmblood by Quaterback. The combination boasts six wins from their seven CDI small tour starts.

Two judges had the second-placed Norwegian combination of Alexandra Gamlemshaug Andresen and her own nine-year-old Empire B (by Sting x OO Seven) as the winners. This promising duo were stepping out into senior international ranks for the first time, having been on the youth circuit, culminating in the European Championships for young riders in August in Roosendaal, France. Andresen, who is just 21, scored 69.676%.

British rider Susan Pape’s Prix St Georges CDI1* winner Harmony’s Eclectisch has an equally sparse competition history, but roared to victory with a final total of 69.529%, including a high score from the M judge, Janet Foy, who awarded 74.265%.

The nine-year-old black licensed stallion by Zenon x Olivi was acquired in November by American dressage sponsor Leslie Malone of Harmony Sport Horses, having previously been owned by Andreas Helgstrand, among others.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Laura Graves and Verdades Stamp Their Authority on Week Three of AGDF

Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades. Photo Credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL – January 25, 2018 – Laura Graves and Verdades ensured an electric start to week three of the 12-week 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). The American duo won the FEI World Cup Grand Prix, presented by US P.R.E. Association, in emphatic style, scoring 79.63% at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

The score would have been over 80% – achieved twice by them in this test at the 2017 AGDF – but for a leap into canter from passage just before the final halt. Graves’ riding received nines from all five judges, and the 16-year-old gelding by Florett As was bursting with energy.

“This is my first show out this season,” said Graves, 30. “I was super pleased with my horse, so for the first time back in almost six months to pick up where we left off and I think maybe improving some things, is just fantastic.

“I normally wait until the last show of the season to try something new, but this year I decided to try it at the first show. ‘Diddy’ gets so hot on the final center line so I tried bringing him back a little more but he got even hotter, and when I touched him with my leg he over-reacted,” she explained.

Graves and Verdades – who was awarded the title of 2017 Adequan®/USDF Grand Prix Horse of the Year – are fourth on the world rankings and she is gunning for the FEI World Cup Dressage Final in April and the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon in September. She also praised the scale of the AGDF.

“It’s amazing to see two full grands prix going here today, and really impressive to see so many Americans scoring well. Everyone has our eyes on Tryon and another team medal.”

Graves’ coach Debbie MacDonald had another reason to be cheerful when another of her students, Adrienne Lyle, captured the FEI CDI3* Grand Prix, presented by Horseware Ireland, on the same day.

Not only did the 11-year-old Salvino post a new international grand prix high score of 74.543% at just his fourth CDI under the USA’s Lyle, but in the meantime the rider also logged a new career best CDI grand prix score. She was awarded a nine for the final halt and for her riding from judge Janet Foy of the USA.

The charming Sandro Hit x Donnerhall stallion – now owned solely by Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano – was found in Spain, and his only FEI records before teaming up with Lyle were in young horse classes.

“We hadn’t been in the ring since Aachen [in July],” said Lyle. “We’ve been home in Idaho and then training down here. We debated a little about doing a national show as I felt it had been a long time out of the ring, but so far he’s been really good – he’s solid in his mind that way. He got a little hot going around the ring, but in a good way.

“I was really pleased with his energy and his effort and we’re getting to a place now where he can maintain the whole package reliably,” she continued. “He’s the best horse I’ve ever sat on quality-wise. He’s got an incredible ability to collect but can also relax; he’s got all the parts you need. If he understands what you want, he does it for you every single time.”

Foy, who was presiding from C, said: “The greenness lost Salvino a few marks, but it was a really, really fun test to watch and Adrienne rode it beautifully; you don’t see the aids. And there are lots of areas where the 7.5s could be nines in the future.”

Lyle and Salvino will participate in the CDI5* show (February 8-11), and the pair is crafting a new freestyle routine, with the year’s major competition aim being the WEG on home soil.

The 3* produced two WEG qualifying scores, for Israel’s Sahar Daniel Hirosh on Whitman – who scored 66.522% – and Japan’s Rio Olympics duo of Kiichi Harada and Egistar, who chalked up 66.261% on the pair’s first visit to the AGDF. The Philippines’ Ellesse Tzinberg also achieved a qualifying score on Triviant 2 in the FEI World Cup class, of exactly 66%.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Laura Graves and Verdades Move to Number Two in FEI World Dressage Rankings

Lexington, Ky. – Laura Graves and Verdades have advanced to the number two spot in the FEI World Dressage Rankings after a successful showing at the 2017 World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen in July. This equals the highest ranking ever by a U.S. dressage combination. Germany’s Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD remain world-ranked number one. Great Britain’s Carl Hester and Nip Tuck are ranked third.

Previously, Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and the 2002 KWPN gelding, who defeated Werth and Weihegold OLD in the Grand Prix Special in CDIO5* Aachen, held the number four spot since August 2016 following the Rio Olympic Games where they won a team bronze medal and placed fourth in the Grand Prix Freestyle. Graves and Verdades first appeared on the world standings in February 2014, ranked 458th, after their first two international competitions at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival.

U.S. combinations Steffen Peters and Ravel were world number two in June and July 2009, and Debbie McDonald and Lisa Wilcox were frequently world number two from 2003 to 2005.

Complete world rankings

By US Equestrian Communications Department

US Dressage Team Wins Silver at FEI Nations Cup CDIO5* Aachen

Shannon Brinkman Photo (Left to right: Olivia LaGoy-Weltz, Kasey Perry-Glass, Laura Graves, and Adrienne Lyle)

Graves and Verdades Win Grand Prix Special

Aachen, Germany – The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team won the silver medal at the FEI Nations Cup at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen in Aachen, Germany on Saturday with a final score of 450.392. Rio Olympic team bronze medalist Laura Graves and Verdades were foot perfect as they bested the field of competitors, unseating Germany’s Isabell Werth in the Grand Prix Special to win with a final a score of 81.824%.

“These incredible young ladies are just super athletes along with super wonderful horses, some of which are brand new to arenas such as this,” said Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover. “I was over-wrought with emotion about them landing in second place halfway through this Nations Cup. On the one hand, a part of me expects that; I expect excellence. Still, it is an extra thrill to have this youthful look of new faces coming along with our seasoned veterans. I’m very happy and very excited about this group.”

Maintaining their silver status from Thursday’s Grand Prix, the U.S. had little to no room for error as they entered the arena. The 2016 Olympic duo of Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and Verdades, Graves’ and Curt Maes’ 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding, kept the momentum going fresh off their Grand Prix test, where they placed second with a 79.514%. They were determined to keep the team on the podium by producing a showstopping performance in the Grand Prix Special.

“Today was just our day. My horse gave me a great birthday present,” said Graves. “It was actually the first time this year that we have shown in the [Grand Prix] Special. I could not be more pleased with him. Aachen brings out the top riders, and that’s what keeps me motivated.”

Graves is the fifth U.S. dressage rider to win at Aachen, behind Patricia Galvin and Jessica Ransehousen (1960), Robert Dover (1987 CHIO Freestyle) and Steffen Peters (2009).

“A win in Aachen is tantamount to a win at the Olympics,” said Dover. “She was against the very best rider from the Olympic Games, the very best rider from the World Cup and when you beat that rider and horse, it’s just everything. When you go into the stadium and have our national anthem played and our flag go up, it is something she will never forget in her life. Nothing can make me more proud or happier for her.”

London Olympic veteran Adrienne Lyle (Ketchum, Idaho) aboard Salvino, the 2007 Hanoverian stallion owned by Salvino Partners, LLC, entered the ring confident and composed, demonstrating brilliant movements to finish on a final score of 71.814% and 73.608% in the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special, respectively.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Dover. “She rode magnificently both days. Today, the marks reflected a super talented horse and a fantastic rider piloting this young horse.”

Relatively new to international competitions, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (Haymarket, Va.) and Lonoir, LaGoy-Weltz and Mary Anne McPhail’s 2004 Danish Warmblood gelding, competed with poise riding two technically outstanding tests, finishing the Grand Prix with a 71.514% and 72.118% in the Grand Prix Special.

“Olivia is another incredibly gifted rider. She is as tough about wanting perfect and being determined,” said Dover. “Right before she went in I said rack up as many points as you possibly can in the first half of the test because his greenness is in the second half and that’s exactly what she did. That’s what you want in a team rider; it shows another great talent for the future.”

Graves’ Rio Olympic teammate, Kasey Perry-Glass (Wellington, Fla.), and Goerklintgaards Dublet, Diane Perry’s 2003 Warmblood gelding, had an unexpected miscommunication in their first pirouette during Thursday’s Grand Prix, resulting in a score of 68.929% which was the drop score for the team. However, the pair’s performance on Saturday set the tone for the U.S. with a score of 71.608%.

“We wanted Kasey to keep showing the continued evolution of how this horse is coming on,” said Dover. “It [Grand Prix Special] was so amazing and so lovely. The 74-75% is right there. I’m thrilled with her.”

Germany took home top honors with a final collective team score of 471.046, and placed three of their riders in the top ten in the Grand Prix Special. Sweden, who was in fourth after the Grand Prix, surpassed Denmark to round out the top three with a final score of 437.635.

Graves and Verdades placed third with a score of 82.550% in the Grand Prix Freestyle Sunday morning.

From Classic Communications/US Equestrian Communications Department