Tag Archives: Laura Graves

Graves Earns World Cup Silver for Third Time in Gothenburg

Laura Graves and Verdades (Shannon Brinkman Photo)

Gothenburg, Sweden – In the dramatic conclusion of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final, Laura Graves and her loyal mount Verdades piaffed their way to silver in front of an enthusiastic Swedish crowd of more than 11,500. Showing the strength of the American dressage program, all three U.S. combinations broke the top seven with scores over 80%.

“I was thrilled. [Verdades] was so rideable, and I was just really thrilled with his focus and his energy today,” said Graves. “Like Isabel [Werth] said, the crowd was amazing. They all have this ticker of a live score, and as riders you are going ‘yeah, this feels pretty good.’ You kind of hope that the judges are agreeing with [the crowd]. You hear the crowd clapping along and you think ‘okay, well at least everyone is enjoying it as much as I am,’ and that’s really special.”

With a final score of 87.179%, Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and her and Curt Maes’s 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding gave now three-time World Cup champion Isabel Werth (Germany) and Weihegold OLD a run for their money. With 10 combinations scoring over 80%, it was a tight race to the finish and Graves rode 14th in the order.

© 2019 US Equestrian Federation

Graves Takes Second in FEI Dressage World Cup Final Grand Prix

Laura Graves and Verdades (Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo)

Gothenburg, Sweden – In an exciting day of competition, U.S. dressage and jumping combinations found their rhythm at the FEI World Cup™ Finals. Laura Graves and Verdades earned second in the FEI Dressage World Cup Final Grand Prix, while Beezie Madden and Breitling LS advanced to fourth after the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final II.

With poise and grace, the U.S. dressage combinations trotted down centerline on Friday ready to represent American dressage. Their hard work and dedication paid off, resulting in all three combinations placing in the top eight in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final Grand Prix. Laura Graves and Verdades led the way for the U.S., placing second on 80.109% closely behind Germany’s Isabel Werth.

Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and her own and Curt Maes’s 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding found their rhythm in the large Scandinavium Arena in front of a knowledgeable Swedish audience.

“I thought [feeling super]. He was super rideable today,” said Graves. “I think tomorrow will be an interesting competition for everyone, and, hopefully, my horse gives me the same great feeling that he did today… I feel really, really confident in how we have prepared him for this competition.”

Madden Moves Up, Tied for Fourth after Round II of Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final

With ground to cover, the U.S. combinations headed into Friday evening’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final II looking to improve their positions in the second round of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final. Round II saw a shift in the leaderboard, and Madden and Breitling LS jumped a commanding and nearly flawless round to place fifth in the class and fourth overall.

After jumping a clear round on a time of 76.41 seconds, Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and Abigail Wexner’s 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion headed into the jump-off with seven other top combinations. Their jump-off time of 34.75 seconds was the fastest of the round but a rail at the final jump cost them the double-clear. Sitting on just three penalties, and tied for fourth with Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels and Olivier Philippaerts, as well as Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs, Madden and Breitling LS sit less than one rail from the current leader headed into Sunday’s final.

By US Equestrian Communications Department

Werth Wins Grand Prix, but Runner-Up Graves Looks a Powerful Threat

Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

The legend that is Germany’s Isabell Werth (49) steered her wonderful 13-year-old mare, Weihegold OLD, to victory in the Grand Prix as the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2019 got underway at the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg (SWE).

But the World No. 1 rider, and the most decorated athlete in the history of equestrian sport, is taking nothing for granted as she chases down her third consecutive, and fifth overall, World Cup title.

“I can feel the breeze on the back of my neck!” she admitted, after the World No. 2 combination of America’s Laura Graves (31) and Verdades slotted into second place on a day when US riders were highly impressive.

Indeed, the deciding Freestyle competition looks set to be another thriller, and the sold-out stadium will be throbbing with excitement. Third-placed Dane, Daniel Bachmann Andersen, said it suited his stallion Blue Hors Zack when the crowd clapped enthusiastically as they came into the ring. But Judy Reynolds’ Vancouver K didn’t feel the same way, spinning around with fright and boiling over at times when they were first to go. The Irishwoman, whose Freestyle programme is a big crowd favourite, just shrugged it off after finishing 14th of 18 starters. That blip is already confined to history as far as she is concerned.

It was America’s Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet who headed the leaderboard with a score of 77.267 at the halfway stage after a performance that oozed partnership between horse and rider. And when Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg and Damsey posted 76.957 as the second-half action began, the US rider was still out in front. But then Werth set off with Weihegold and the big scores just kept coming in, the precision and quality of the mare’s work seeing them post 81.755 to soar out in front.

Bachmann Andersen’s Blue Hors Zack did a lovely test. “He’s just getting better and better!” said the Danish star who temporarily slotted into second when putting 78.152 on the board, but Werth’s lead looked very vulnerable when Graves followed him into the ring, fourth-last to go. Some big early scores suggested the American just might oust the defending double-champion, but there was a little mistake in extended trot and the final scoreline of 80.109 left Werth in pole position.

The German superstar and multiple champion knows the story is far from over, however, and Graves reminded her of that at the post-competition press conference. You could tell that the American meant it when she said, “I’m incredibly hungry to be at the top of the podium and I’ll do my very best tomorrow. I know there is a real chance; I believe in this horse – he’s 17 but in the best shape ever!”

But Werth has been to battle, and won, so many times before, and as she said, “Gothenburg holds great memories for me.” It was here that she posted her very first FEI Dressage World Cup Final win with Fabienne in 1992. Can she do it again 27 years later? As she said, “Tomorrow is a whole new game – we will have to wait and see.”

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Can Graves Go One Better in Gothenburg?

German superstar, Isabell Werth, returns to defend her title at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019 Final in Gothenburg (SWE) next week. She’ll have to fend off many powerful opponents, including America’s Laura Graves. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Demand for tickets for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ and Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals has been so incredibly high that the show organisers are providing a big-screen experience for those who can’t access a seat in the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg (SWE) on the deciding days. “The tickets have long been sold out and we have been working for a long time to come up with a solution that makes it possible for more people to take part in this year’s horse party!” said Gothenburg Horse Show Project Manager, Patrik Fredriksson. So, in co-operation with EuroHorse, all visitors can watch Saturday and Sunday’s thrilling Final action live on-screen in the adjoining Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre which hosts a hugely popular equestrian fair.

The excitement is already palpable with just days to go before the doors are opened to many of the best horse-and-rider combinations in the world next Wednesday, 3 April. For Germany’s Isabell Werth, it’s a matter of taking on all challengers in her bid to add a fifth Dressage title to the extraordinary list of achievements that has confirmed her status as the most successful equestrian athlete of all time.

Stalking her every inch of the way will be America’s Laura Graves who, partnering the now 17-year-old Verdades, has come dangerously close to ousting the German star over the last few seasons. They were runners-up at the Finals in 2017 and 2018, and, at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, USA last September where they helped clinch team silver, only Werth and Bella Rose stood between them and individual gold.

Graves has to be hungry to go that one step further which would see her become only the third American FEI Dressage World Cup™ title-holder in the 34 editions of the series.

It was in Gothenburg in 2003 that Debbie McDonald claimed the USA’s first victory partnering Brentina, and Steffen Peters steered Ravel into pole position in Las Vegas six years later.

Look at the line-up though and there are many other hopes and dreams to be realised. Could Patrik Kittel and Delauney OLD become only the second-ever Swedish champions? It’s 21 years since Louise Nathorst and LRF Walk on Top triumphed on home soil in Gothenburg, pipping the legendary duo of The Netherlands Anky Van Grunsven and Bonfire, while Isabell Werth and Anthony FRH finished third.

Can Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen produce the same level of expertise that saw him win the final leg of the Western European League at ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) two weeks ago with the one-eyed stallion Blue Hors Zack? What an amazing story that would be: only one other Dane has ever done it and that was Anne-Grethe Jensen with Marzog who pinned Great Britain’s Christopher Bartle, now one of the world’s most celebrated coaches, into second place with Wily Trout, while Switzerland’s Christine Stuckelberger finished third with Rubelit von Unkelruf. That was at the inaugural FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final staged in ’s-Hertogenbosch in 1986 – all of 33 years ago but, like all great sporting moments, embedded into the memory of those who witnessed it.

And then of course there’s Ireland’s Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K, a horse purchased for the price of a second-hand car who has broken Irish records like it’s going out of style in recent years and who, at 17 years of age, is better and fresher than ever. This pair has a big fanbase – Reynolds has achieved every little girl’s dream in finding a horse to take her to the top of the sport, and the diminutive and super-talented rider has been consistently threatening for a podium placing at majors over the last few seasons. Gothenburg holds good memories for them because they finished eighth at their first FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final there in 2016 before moving right up to fourth in Omaha (USA) the following year. They’ve been achieving personal-best scores in quick succession over the last few months and their “Riverdance” themed floorplan and music will get the toes tapping and the hands clapping for sure – the Gothenburg crowd are guaranteed to fall in love with them. Could they completely break the mould and become the very first Irish winners? What a story that would be.

Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest city, located on the west coast of the country with a stunning archipelago just around the corner. It’s a great city to visit and it’s already starting to fill up with fans wanting to get a glimpse of their favourite equestrian stars and waiting for the action to kick off with warm-up classes and national events on 3 April. The first competition in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final, the Grand Prix, will take place at 13.00 on Thursday 4 April and the deciding Freestyle will hold centre stage on Saturday 6 at 16.00. It’s going to be a week of spectacular sport, and for Dressage fans the biggest question is: can anyone beat Isabell? We’ll have to wait and see.

Check out all the details here.

Gothenburg Horse Show website here.

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 Secure Third World Cup Qualifying Score

Laura Graves and Verdades © SusanStickle.com.

Wellington, FL – March 1, 2019 – The “Friday Night Stars” FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W presented by Havensafe Farm ended a day of top dressage competition with a sweep of the top three places by U.S. women at week 8 of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), which continues through Sunday, March 3.

Friday night also showcased the final round of the Palm Beach Derby presented by Havensafe Farm, and a nations parade for the riders in the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships.

Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades rode to a score of 84.535% to secure their third qualifying score for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final and to win the freestyle. “I don’t count anything until it’s for certain,” said Graves. “Once I went down centerline, I thought, ‘OK, hopefully this is my ticket to Sweden.’”

Christoph Koschel Captures Win in Palm Beach Derby

Christoph Koschel (GER) defended his title and for the third time won the Palm Beach Derby presented by Havensafe Farm, picking up an $3,000 check as his portion of the $8,000 prize money on offer. Koschel rode Action Ace, a 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding by Ijsselmeer owned by Janice Murdoch, and the new pair earned a score of 72.316% in the final round of the Derby.

“It’s great to win the third time in a row,” said Koschel of his success. “It’s really challenging. I think that is what we all enjoy as professional riders, to get a horse that we don’t know and find in four to five minutes the right buttons. To get to know the horse a little bit and then try to ride a test.”

Karen Lipp (USA) also rode Action Ace in the final round and took second place with a score of 68.713%. Adrienne Lyle (USA) and Karen Pavicic (CRO) tied for third place after being “knocked out” by Koschel and Lipp in the initial round of competition. Lyle and Flash Dancer IM 1175, a 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Londonderry owned by Patricia Koschel, earned a score of 67.999%. Pavicic and Leuchtfeuer DE, a 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood stallion by Dion Romantica owned by Dressage Grand Ducal, earned a score of 67.705%.

For more information and a full list of results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Laura Graves and Verdades Start Off AGDF Week 8 with Win in FEI Grand Prix CDI-W

Laura Graves and Verdades. ©SusanStickle.com.

Wellington, FL – February 28, 2019 – Week 8 of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), The Palm Beach Derby, kicked off with top CDI-W and CDI3* dressage competition. Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades returned to AGDF and won the FEI Grand Prix CDI-W presented by Havensafe Farm. The pair earned a score of 80.239% to qualify for the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W presented by Havensafe Farm tomorrow night, where they plan to secure their last qualifying score for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Finals in April.

“I thought he was relaxed, but I also at the same time maybe warmed him up too much,” said Graves of her 17-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding by Florett AS. “We have this technique we’ve been using where we give him a very short warm-up and just send him in. Sometimes the longer you warm him up he gets tired, and then he gets hotter in his mind, but tired in his body.

“He was very, very clean today. I thought he was very very honest,” continued Graves, who last competed with Verdades at AGDF 3. “I was super happy with my zig-zag. I just remember looking up at one point and how much ground we had covered sideways, and I thought ‘Uh oh, can I do that the other way?’ I pushed, and sure enough he went that far. The canter tour felt really secure, and I’m happy with his relaxation.”

Graves noted of her goal for Friday night, “[It] is our last qualifier for World Cup, so just want to check that off of the list and know that we have a ticket to Sweden.”

Graves’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 teammates, Kasey Perry-Glass and Adrienne Lyle, finished in second and third place, respectively. The three riders shared their laps of honor by trotting down the centerline side by side. “We’ve been waiting for this,” Graves shared. “We’ve been planning [that] for weeks and weeks and weeks. The three of us are such good friends that we’ve been hoping for a sweep like that. It was fun to be able to laugh with each other and go down centerline, to have such amazing teammates.”

Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet, a 16-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding by Diamond Hit x La Costa and owned by Diane Perry, placed second with a score of 78.630%. In third place was Lyle riding Salvino, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Sandro Hit x Dynastie and owned by Betsy Juliano LLC. They received a score of 74.543%.

For more information and a full list of results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Laura Graves and Verdades Capture Another Win in “Friday Night Stars” Grand Prix Freestyle

Laura Graves and Verdades. © SusanStickle.com.

Wellington, FL – January 25, 2019 – U.S. dressage stars and currently ranked number two in the world, Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades performed a beautiful test and earned a score of 84.935% to win the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, presented by the U.S. P.R.E. Association on Friday, January 25, at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL.

“This freestyle was nice. This was the second time I’ve ridden to this music. I’m definitely feeling a little more comfortable with it,” commented Graves, who has captured medals at the Olympic Games and World Equestrian Games with Verdades, her 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Florett AS. “I’m glad to add another good score to qualifying [for the World Cup Finals]. In a normal year we’d be qualified by now, but we have one more show to do so we’ll be back at the end of February, I believe, to hopefully qualify.”

Kasey Perry-Glass (USA) and Goerklintgaards Dublet, a 16-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding by Diamond Hit owned by Diane Perry, came in second with a score of 82.425%.

“The weather was great for Dublet. He loves the cold weather,” said Perry-Glass of her 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon (WEG) team silver medal-winning partner. “It really gets him a little bit more amped. I’m just very proud of him for this show, to come out and score a personal best in [yesterday’s] grand prix out of WEG. Unfortunately, I had a little bit of a spook coming in [the freestyle], so that kind of put me a little behind my music. I felt a little rushed throughout my choreography, but he nailed everything.”

Shelly Francis and Danilo (USA), a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding by De Niro x Annabella owned by Patricia Stempel, earned a score of 80.535% and came in third place in the freestyle.

“I just feel like my horse is really kind of liking this freestyle,” commented Francis about Danilo. “He kind of gets a little pumped up tonight with the cooler weather. It was good. He felt really fun and awesome though; he was just trying to do everything. The piaffe and passage and pirouettes are always getting better, and he’s always been pretty good about the changes. He’s kind of coming into himself.”

Judge at C, Michael Osinski, pointed out – and it was confirmed – that for the first time in a dressage competition in the U.S., the top three earned above 80%. Osinski commented, “It just was an honor to watch all three of you, such elegant, harmonious, beautiful riders. It was just great, and I wish them all the best.”

AGDF Director of Sport Thomas Baur also pointed out that Adrienne Lyle (USA) and Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven (SWE) placed fourth and fifth with top scores above and near 79%.

“I think that we did not have many qualifiers in the Western European league this year or last year, that were that strong,” he noted. “I think we have come a long way here, and it’s pretty amazing.”

For more information and to see a full list of results, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

USET Foundation Celebrates 2019 Award Winners at Gold Medal Club Reception

The United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation is pleased to recognize the generous support of their Gold Medal Club (GMC) members. The GMC is the lifeblood of the USET Foundation, accounting for nearly 80 percent of individual contributions each year and is comprised of members who contribute a minimum of $1,000 or more annually. On Friday, Jan. 18, the USET Foundation hosted the Gold Medal Club Reception at the International Polo Club in Wellington, Florida, where GMC members who have made the USET Foundation a priority in their charitable giving for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years were recognized.

USET Foundation Presents 2019 Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy to Rising Star Daisy Farish

The USET Foundation is pleased to honor the talented young show jumping athlete Daisy Farish of Versailles, Kentucky as the recipient of the 2019 Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy. This prestigious award is presented annually to a junior/young rider in one of the Olympic disciplines who demonstrates the team’s values of sportsmanship and horsemanship.

USET Foundation Awards 2019 Whitney Stone Cup to Dressage Icon Laura Graves

The USET Foundation is pleased to announce that dressage star Laura Graves is the recipient of the 2019 Whitney Stone Cup. The award is presented annually to an active competitor who displays consistent excellence in international competition as well as high standards of sportsmanlike conduct, while serving as an ambassador for the United States and equestrian sport.

S. Tucker S. Johnson Honored with R. Bruce Duchossois Distinguished Trustee Award

In 2015, the USET Foundation announced the creation of the R. Bruce Duchossois Distinguished Trustee Award in honor and recognition of the late Bruce Duchossois. On Friday, Jan. 18, S. Tucker S. Johnson was presented with the 2019 award during the USET Foundation’s Gold Medal Club Reception held at the International Polo Club in Wellington, Florida.

For more information on the USET Foundation, visit www.uset.org.

Verdades and Cobra Win at 2018 Horse of the Year Gala

West Palm Beach, Fla. – US Equestrian is pleased to share that Verdades, owned by Laura Graves and Curt Maes, has been voted the 2018 International Horse of the Year, and Cobra, owned by Marsha Hartford-Sapp, has been voted the 2018 National Horse of the Year.

Verdades (Florett AS x Liwilarda/Goya), a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, affectionately known as Diddy, began his journey to international success in 2014 after garnering attention from his reserve-champion finish at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp. Since his launch into the spotlight with his life-long rider and trainer Graves, Verdades’s achievements and continued success are profound. In 2018, Verdades again proved why he is one of the best horses to grace the international dressage ring as he won the Grand Prix at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals in Paris and helped the U.S. team earn a silver medal in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ Germany. He and Graves then rode for silver medal-winning The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) Tryon 2018.

Since being rounded up in the mountains of Nevada at the age of six, Cobra’s trainer and owner Marsha Hartford-Sapp has been devoted to the 14-year-old mustang gelding and proceeded training him with caution and respect for his instincts, creating a deep bond. Their mutual trust has seen them through competitions in both classical and Western dressage, where Cobra’s versatility and talent for each has been apparent. As one of the founding horses of USEF Western dressage competition, Cobra was one of the first recipients of the 2015 Horse of the Year awards in that discipline and has continued to collect numerous accolades ever since.

“It wasn’t even about that moment when the Olympic medal was placed around my neck. It was about the joy. Despite hardships, heartbreaks, and massive, massive life failures, always overwhelming joy… [and] the fact that this great horse brings so much joy to so many people.” – Laura Graves on her 2018 International Horse of the Year

“Several years ago, I stood in the middle of a round pen with a horse that was six years old, rounded up by a helicopter, and never touched by human hands.” – Marsha Hartford-Sapp

© 2019 US Equestrian Federation

Laura Graves and Verdades Wow Spectators with Freestyle Victory at “Friday Night Stars”

Laura Graves and Verdades. Photo © SusanStickle.com.

Wellington, FL – January 11, 2019 – The Adequan® Global Dressage Festival concluded its second day of competition on Friday, January 11, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL with the “Friday Night Stars” FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, presented by Wellington Agricultural Services. Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades wowed the crowd with their freestyle and won the class.

Graves and Verdades, her 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Florett AS, came out on top with an 83.220% in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, presented by Wellington Agricultural Services.

Graves said, “I wasn’t what sure which music I was going to do tonight. In the end, I’m very, very glad I chose to do my new music. I don’t know what else I would have been saving it for. I’m just glad that the timing worked out; I haven’t ridden to it yet. It’s supposed to be about the same as my last one, so I just crossed my fingers and hoped that it worked out and it did. I’m so lucky that Terri Gallo just takes whatever idea that I have.”

Speaking of her test, Graves explained, “[I had] a big mistake in my final pirouette. I came at him a bit strong in the spur. And then in the piaffe fan, which we haven’t touched since Aachen last year, I was a bit greedy and selfish in the warm-up. He let me know that he knows his job. He gives such a good feeling when he does go well that any little bump in my hand or my leg is shocking to me.”

For more information and a full list of results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.