Wellington, FL – March 25, 2014 – Italian dressage rider Silvia Rizzo and Sal scored their highest score to date on March 20 in the Grand Prix Freestyle with a 70.375 percent at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) 11 National show. On top of that, they placed first in the Grand Prix at the show with a 68.50 percent.
Rizzo and Sal are a new pairing and are just getting to know each other. Rizzo purchased Sal, a 15-year-old bay Lusitano stallion (Mississipe-Maia, Golegã), in January 2014.
“I’m very pleased because I was looking to have him really relaxed,” Rizzo said of her freestyle. “I changed the beginning of my kür and he was much more mellow.”
Betti believes the pair’s steady improvement throughout the AGDF series can be attributed to practice and time.
“We changed some things within the design of the test,” he added. “Sometimes you need to change something. She also built on the experience of the previous competitions.”
Rizzo said she was happy with the piaffe and passage in the freestyle and rode some steps one-handed. They received an 8 and a 7.5 respectively in those movements. She noted that in the pirouettes Sal did not lose the rhythm and remained in place.
“I also received a high score for the choreography,” she said. “The judge wrote it was ‘very entertaining.'”
Rizzo said that that she and Sal are forming a great partnership.
“He was really playing with me,” she said. “He was enjoying the kür. Today my first goal was for him to have fun with me and… we did it!”
Silvia and Sal will compete in the AGDF 12 CDI3* March 27-30. In early April, they will schedule when to leave for Europe. And they will head back to Germany to Rizzo and Betti’s facility, Hof Marabunta, to resume a full competition schedule in Europe.
Wellington, FL – March 18, 2014 – Italian Grand Prix dressage star Silvia Rizzo decided to cowgirl up and try a new discipline while in Florida: reined cow horse.
Rizzo and her partner, Michele Betti, the former chef d’equipe of the Italian eventing team, traded breeches and helmets for jeans and cowboy hats as they enjoyed the first-class Show by Appointment (SBA) Reined Cow Horse Experience.
The day began when the two were picked up in a stretch limo and whisked away to Bynum Farms in Indiantown, FL, owned by SBA co-founder Blair Bynum. The facility plays host to SBA’s popular winter series of reined cow horse shows and is the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway. There, they were assigned highly trained horses. Many of the horses available for guests for the Reined Cow Horse Experience boast multiple championship titles.
Rizzo and Betti mounted up and Rick and Trevor Steed of Steed Training coached them on the basics of holding the reins (much less contact than dressage!) and steering. Then, it was time to practice those new cowgirl/cowboy skills by closely following a mechanical cow pulled by a four-wheeler. Instructors kept them on their toes with shouts of “Nose to tail! Nose to tail!”
“It was fun to try something new,” Rizzo said. “I can ride dressage every day but I can’t learn how to be a cowgirl every day! Besides, I am in America and I needed to try Western riding to get the whole American experience.”
Next, it was time for them to learn the reining patterns that are an essential component of reined cow horse competition. They rode into the arena one at a time to learn each step of a pattern from SBA co-founder Rick Steed. Steed coached them on riding circles and flying changes and executing high-speed spins and sliding stops. Rizzo’s dressage training made her geometric shapes for the reining pattern picture perfect.
“Pretty riding, pretty riding,” Steed said as Rizzo practiced her pattern.
Rizzo coasted into sliding stops and Betti, who was proud of his new gold-tipped cowboy boots and cowboy hat, showed the staff that he is a true horseman with slick stops and smooth lead changes.
After lunch, the pair got back in the saddle again to work on moving some cows. Once they learned the new skill, it was time to put their knowledge into practice and move them dogies. Instructors told the riders to hold on and watch the cows as the horses knew their stuff – even if the riders didn’t.
“The horses were very good,” Betti said. “They knew what to do when the cow stopped and turned.”
As the riders moved the cow up and down the fence, SBA staff and other cowpokes for a day whooped, hollered and practiced their “Yee haws.”
“It was so much fun being a cowgirl,” Rizzo said. “I am so happy I got to be a part of the American cowboy experience.”
To learn more about the SBA Reined Cow Horse Experience, contact Rick Steed at 772-263-6830 or email@example.com. Packages can be customized to fit the background, availability and budget of participants. Multi-day packages are also offered, and SBA can take the show on the road and bring the cow horses to a facility near you.
Wellington, FL – February 22, 2014 – Silvia Rizzo of Italy and her new horse Sal, a 15-year-old Lusitano stallion (Mississipe – Maia, Golegã), are beginning to forge a solid connection in the dressage arena after just 10 weeks together.
Although they are just learning to trust each other, the two have consistently boosted their scores during the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. The pair earned a 63.080 in Friday’s Grand Prix CDI3*.
“I have to learn Sal’s rhythm in the flying changes,” Rizzo said. “I also have to work on keeping the same bend and rhythm in the pirouettes.”
Rizzo’s trainer and partner, Michele Betti, the former chef d’equipe of the Italian Eventing Team, is happy with the confidence with which Rizzo and Sal have been riding.
“I am very impressed with how they are starting to know each other and how I can ask her to improve some exercises and she does it trusting the horse and without any kind of doubt,” he said. “I am really happy about this new combination and I agree totally with the judges when they wrote on their score sheet, ‘Willing horse with great future.'”
Rizzo has been working diligently to put Betti’s advice into practice.
“These days we work a lot on keeping the right energy for the piaffe,” she said. “Michele wants him more seated and at the same time powerful from behind. Another important thing which Michele asked me to do is have more cadence in the right half pass at the trot while keeping a good bend.”
“What was amazing for me is the feeling that Sal gives me at each show,” she continued. “Sal is working with me. It’s like he trusts me now and he is allowing me to ride him and guide him. From the entrance he is there with me! I had a much better feeling with the rhythm of the trot half passes [on Friday], but I had a ‘blonde moment’ entering into the extended trot. But he helped me out!”
Rizzo thought the piaffe had good balance and rhythm and the judges thought so too, as they received a 7.5 for the piaffe.
“What I really liked was that the judge at C was always saying, ‘Thank you’ to each rider at the end of their tests,” she said. “That made me feel really pleased and grateful.”
Rizzo and Betti hope to continue their upward direction with Sal as the competition continues this season in Florida.
“We are coming together and I am so happy,” Rizzo said.
Silvia Rizzo and her Lusitano stallion Sal half-pass in the Grand Prix. Photo by Susan J. Stickle.
Wellington, FL – February 6, 2014 – Italy’s Silvia Rizzo and her new horse, Sal, are steadily solidifying their budding partnership while continuing to compete in Florida this winter show season.
The pair, who have been working together for only four weeks, scored a 69.100 percent to win Sunday’s Grand Prix Open at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 4 National show, an improvement over the previous week’s Grand Prix score. Sal is a 15-year-old bay Lusitano stallion (Mississipe-Maia, Golegã) Rizzo imported from Portugal.
Rizzo said she is pleased with the results and with how quickly they have improved, adding that her partner and trainer, Michele Betti, the former chef d’equipe of the Italian eventing team, has been helping her prepare technically and mentally for the show.
“I slept a little bit in the first competition,” she said. “I just wanted to do a clean test. This time, I entered and said, ‘OK. Now I ask.’ He was absolutely with me all the time.”
Betti was also pleased with the results.
“As a trainer, with a horse like Sal, my job is much easier because he understands really quickly and Silvia is much more relaxed on the horse,” he said. “I am happy with the way Silvia rode the competition because this was the first time she really rode it movement by movement. She really focused on showing the judges the correct exercise while also showing power.”
They also worked on the rhythm and cadence in the canter.
“We worked a lot on the piaffe too because one thing I have to learn is to stay in the piaffe without worrying about having to go out of it,” Rizzo said. “He is able to do it and I am learning to trust him to do it.”
“I want to practice, practice and practice,” she added. “I practice every day, but it’s good that at the end of the week, I can compete in a test so I can understand better where I am. We still have to improve a lot, but I’m really happy. It’s good that I have this chance.”
The next competition for Rizzo and Sal is the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 5 CDI3*, where they will ride the Grand Prix on Thursday, Feb. 6, and the Grand Prix Freestyle on Friday, Feb. 7. They also plan to show in the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 6 National show Feb. 15-16.
Silvia Rizzo and Sal in their first competition together.
Wellington, FL – January 22, 2014 – Silvia Rizzo, the Italian dressage rider based in Germany, is back in South Florida for the second year of showing in the sun, this time with a brand new horse to ride.
Sal, a 15-year-old Lusitano stallion whom Rizzo calls “Salame,” will be Rizzo’s partner in Grand Prix competition at Wellington’s top shows this season. Sal is an Alter Real bred and revised Pure Sangue Lusitano (PSL) (Mississippe x Maia X Agareno II). Just like Donnerbube 2, Rizzo’s ride during the 2013 winter season, Salame loves bananas.
“I have another gorilla,” she laughed.
Rizzo has been working with Sal for only three weeks, and part of that time was spent in transit as the pair traveled from Hof Marabunta, Rizzo’s farm in Germany, to their winter base in Wellington. Rizzo competed with Sal for the first time on Jan. 18 at the Gold Coast Opener national show, and she had plenty to smile her megawatt smile about after their first venture down centerline together.
Although she was happy with her ride, Rizzo said she drove her partner and trainer, Michele Betti, crazy with her “blonde moments” at her first competition with Sal.
“Michele had to be my psychologist,” she said of the former Italian Olympic eventing team coach. “I was killing him with my stupid questions. But he was so good and calmed me down.”
“Even after he was my head doctor, my brain was full of questions when we went in the ring,” she continued. “After the first extended trot, the answer came to me: Sal is a wonderful horse! He’s very sensitive and listens to me. He is absolutely focused on me.”
The warm-up for their test was the first time Rizzo had ridden Sal with other horses, and she was happy with the way he handled it.
“He has a really good brain,” she said. “It was windy. The warm-up was completely full of horses, of every level, of every color, of every size… and the other horses were around him, and he didn’t care at all. There was one horse that was rearing up next to him in the warm-up! And he didn’t mind – I could focus on my own work. I was so happy with him.”
Rizzo was also pleased with their score of 64.75 percent and is excited to keep improving as she and Sal get to know each other.
“What more could I ask in our first test together in our brand new partnership?” she asked. “I am so proud of him.”
Rizzo and Salame will surely attract a fan club during their time in Florida, just like she and Donnerbube 2 did last year. Rizzo said that the charter member of the Silvia and Salame fan club is her dachshund, Ziggy.
“Ziggy comes to every training session and every practice,” she said. “I think he knows the freestyle music better than I do!”
While Rizzo and Salame are new dance partners, they are both seasoned competitors on the world stage. Sal has earned top placings in CDIs in some of Europe’s best venues, while Rizzo has ridden in major competitions around the globe, including invitational events such as the World Dressage Masters CDI5* Palm Beach and the Chi Al Shaqab festival’s CDI4* in Doha, Qatar.
Rizzo and Sal will be back in action Jan. 23-24 at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 3 CDI-W, where they will compete in the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle. They will debut their freestyle pattern set to energetic popular tunes, and afterward, Ziggy is sure to offer his unbiased opinion.
Sue Weakley and Mary Adelaide Brakenridge for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
Silvia Rizzo and Donnerbube 2 in Jablines, France, in October 2013. Photo by Eric Blanco.
Wellington, FL – December 13, 2013 – Italian Grand Prix rider Silvia Rizzo and her partner, the former Italian Olympic eventing coach Michele Betti, are packing everything from bridles and bathing suits to saddles and shorts to spend the 2014 show season in Wellington, FL.
The two fell in love with the weather, the level of competition and the friendly atmosphere in South Florida after Rizzo rode in the 2013 World Dressage Masters Palm Beach CDI5* last January. The pair lives in Germany at their training center, Hof Marabunta, and they are eager to trade snow for sand.
Rizzo plans to enter shows at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival with one of her horses but will leave her World Dressage Masters mount, Donnerbube 2, who is affectionately known as Bubi, at home in Germany. Bubi captured the hearts of fans last season with his tall, dark and handsome good looks and his penchant for bananas, while Rizzo’s fashion flair caused quite a stir.
“I was asked for my autograph while at the mall in Wellington,” she laughed.
Rizzo and Betti also plan to give lessons and clinics while in Florida. Rizzo began her international Grand Prix career in 2009 and was short-listed for the World Equestrian Games in 2010 and the European Championships in 2011. She has achieved outstanding results in CDI competition in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S.
Betti currently gives dressage, jumping and eventing lessons in Germany. He was the chef d’equipe and team trainer for the Italian eventing team at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the 2006 Olympic Games in Aachen and the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong. He was awarded the title of “Master of Excellence” for his achievements.
“I am looking forward to the training and competition first,” Rizzo said. “And I am also looking forward to visiting a bit more of Florida.”
In between the competitions, she has a full dance card of fun planned for the season.
“I will visit the part of Disney World that I hadn’t time to visit last year,” she said. “I want to kiss Mickey Mouse again!” She also hopes to visit the beach and of course, the fashionista intends to hit the shops. A photo shoot in Palm Beach with one of her sponsors, the Italian equestrian sportswear line Accademia Italiana, is already in the works.
She brings a full cadre of sponsors with her, including her U.S. sponsors MDC stirrups, Wellington Dressage Boots for her horses’ boots, and Bondbers.com, which provides her saddle pads, SSG gloves, Cur-ost natural supplements and Triple Crown Feed.
“For the second year, Craig Bernstein will provide Triple Crown Feed during my stay in Florida,” she said. “I found the feed perfect for my horses last year, so I am very pleased that he renewed our sponsorship.”
Her European sponsors include saddle and tack purveyors Selleria Pariani and she wouldn’t be a fashion trendsetter without her sportswear and jewelry sponsors.
“Accademia Italiana provides me wonderful and trendy clothes,” she said. “Kep Italia provides for my safety with their helmets but, of course, they will keep me trendy too. Also, Stivaleria Secchiari provides all my training and competition riding boots. I just got a new pair which they created especially for my trip for Florida!”
In addition, My Secret Sparkle keeps her blingy and flashy with their bracelets. They will even keep her dachshund, ZigZag, fashion forward for his trip across the ocean.
“The only sponsor that I must leave at home is Motorrad Center Wessmann because my wonderful quad has to stay at Hof Marabunta!” she lamented.
“Above all, the equestrian part is the most important reason for my trip,” she added. “And you will discover more about my competition schedule in January!”
Rizzo and Betti are looking forward to helping U.S. riders with lessons, training and clinics and will be happy to travel around the South Florida area to give individualized instruction. Contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. To learn more about Rizzo and Betti, go to www.hofmarabunta.com.
Sue Weakley for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
Robert Dover on FBW Kennedy. Photos by Susan J. Stickle.
Wellington, FL – July 19, 2013 – If you haven’t been to PSdressage.com lately, you may have missed columns with dressage greats like Robert Dover and Tuny Page. You may have overlooked the news that Canadian David Marcus recently debuted his new mount, Don Altena, in Ontario, Canada. Did you see the story about the first medals awarded in dressage at the 2013 Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC)? Do you know about the latest styles in tailcoats and boots?
On PSdressage.com, you can read about Arlene “Tuny” Page, who shared insight into her life while she competes in Europe in the column “Tune In to Tuny Page.”
“Every time I have come to Europe to show, I rediscover that to be competitive here you have to ride closer to ‘the edge’ of brilliant,'” Page said. “In the long run this, of course, strengthens the horses, adds elasticity and certainly makes your presentation in the arena more impressive.”
She was recently named to USA’s 2013 Nations Cup team to compete in Hickstead, Great Britain, at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup at the Longines Royal International Horse Show July 30 – Aug.4.
You don’t want to miss learning about the U.S. Team’s Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover and his busy life in in the column “New Dressage Chef d’Equipe and Technical Advisor Robert Dover is the Man with the Plan.”
Dover, a six-time Olympic athlete, has organized a unified roadmap for all levels of U.S. dressage competitors, from pony riders to high-performance riders.
Read about Canadian Olympic athlete David Marcus who debuted his new ride, Don Althena, at the CornerStone Summer Festival held July 12 to 14 at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, Ontario. Catch up on the latest news at the Kentucky NAJYRC. Learn about the latest in dressage fashion from resident fashionista and Grand Prix rider Silvia Rizzo from Italy. It’s all on Psdressage.com – and more.
PSdressage.com, launched by Phelps Media Group International of Wellington, FL, is the Internet’s newest and freshest dressage and equestrian news website.
PSdressage.com is the go-to spot for free, up-to-the-minute coverage of what’s happening in the dressage world as well as the gateway to creative reporting and thought-provoking commentary.
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Visit PSdressage.com today to see what’s happening in dressage. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and turn to Twitter @PSDressage for live updates.
Sue Weakley for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
Silvia Rizzo and Donnerbube 2 half-pass at the Chi Al Shaqab festival’s CDI4* in Doha, Qatar. Photos by Stefano Grasso.
Wellington, FL, April 12, 2013 – Dressage superstar Donnerbube 2’s FEI passport was so stuffed with stamps that his rider, Silvia Rizzo, had to procure a new passport for the globe-trotting horse.
Rizzo and her Oldenburg stallion, nicknamed “Bubi,” have been delighting dressage audiences around the world. Most recently, in late March, the duo returned from a successful outing at the Chi Al Shaqab festival’s CDI4* in Doha, Qatar. The invitation-only event featured accomplished dressage riders from around the world and took place alongside top-class endurance and show jumping competitions.
“To be invited to Doha for their first CDI4* was a huge honor for me!” Rizzo said. “It was a totally new experience. We went to a country that I didn’t know, that has huge development and is very focused on bringing dressage there.”
Rizzo appreciated the show organizers’ generosity: travel expenses for horses and riders were covered as part of the invitation. She enjoyed her stay in a five-star hotel and spent time visiting the city and local attractions.
“The city in the night is completely transformed, with a million lights that you can see from far away,” she explained. “So Bubi during his ‘evening walk’ was astonished by all these incredible lights!”
Rizzo described the facility in Doha as “totally new and really modern, with perfect facilities and organization.”
The Doha CDI came not long after the pair completed a one-month tour in South Florida in February. While in Florida, Rizzo, who rides for Italy but lives in Germany, visited Walt Disney World and had her photo taken with Mickey Mouse, but there just wasn’t room in the car for the horse. Instead, Bubi and Rizzo competed in a busy schedule of shows, including the prestigious World Dressage Masters Palm Beach CDI5*.
Before Christmas, the two competed in a World Cup qualifier in Stockholm, Sweden, and in November they went down centerline in a CDI4* in Wien Stadthalle, Austria. Earlier that month, they competed in Lyon, France and in September they traveled to Vienna, Austria, and Wroclaw, Poland. In July, they piaffed in Falsterbo, Sweden, at the CDI5* World Dressage Masters and in February and March they braved the cold in Wroclaw, Poland. And that was just 2012 and the first few months of 2013.
“Bubi and I competed really all over the world,” Rizzo shared. “Italy, Poland, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Portugal, USA, Qatar, Czech Republic, Slovenia, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and Holland. Three continents!”
Rizzo and her horse are currently 18th on the Western European League World Cup Ranking and second reserve in line to participate in the 2013 Reem Acra World Cup Dressage Finals to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the end of April. The combination’s outstanding results in 2012 and 2013 enabled a giant leap on the 2013 WBFSH Dressage Horse Ranking. Donnerbube is now ranked 49th overall and contributes to the Oldenburg breed’s fifth place on the ranking list.
Rizzo said she is thrilled to be traveling the world with Bubi. “I am already a very active person and, of course, he is very active too,” she said. “I don’t really know if I infected him or he infected me with the travel bug, but we love travel! We love visiting new places and having new adventures. Everything you do with Bubi is a real adventure!”
“I am so lucky to have a travel companion like Bubi, who allowed me to attend the biggest shows all over the world,” she added. “I have so much pleasure riding among the top riders of the world. Thank you, Bubi.”
Wellington, FL – February 15, 2013 – As Italian dressage star Silvia Rizzo wraps up her impressive South Florida debut, the combination of high-level competitive opportunities and a friendly, supportive atmosphere at shows has her already looking forward to next year.
The proximity to the beach doesn’t hurt either, and Rizzo has been taking in the Florida attractions between shows and training sessions on the striking Oldenburg stallion Donnerbube 2. The balance of hard work and a little relaxation seems to be working, as Rizzo and “Bubi” have put in some of their best performances to date.
“I’ve broken three of my personal records here: Grand Prix score in a 5*, Grand Prix Special score in a 5*, and Kür score in a World Cup event,” Rizzo said.
“Bubi loves it here,” she added, explaining that he enjoys the quiet atmosphere where he is stalled at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in Palm Beach County. Along with Rizzo, Bubi has become a fan favorite and regularly poses for photos with his admirers.
Rizzo has put together a series of steadily improving performances in Grand Prix competition. Most recently, she and Bubi took seventh in the Grand Prix on a sweltering hot day at the Wellington Classic Dressage Spring Challenge CDI3* (Feb. 8-10), and then put all the pieces together for a standout third-place effort in the Grand Prix Freestyle. Other season highlights include top scores and a fifth place finish in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the World Dressage Masters CDI5* Palm Beach, along with seventh place finishes at the Wellington Dressage CDI-W and Gold Coast Opener CDI-W.
Rizzo’s success in Florida has helped her move up the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Standings. Her 23 points place her 15th in the competitive Western European League.
“I want to thank everybody for the hospitality and for the friendship here,” Rizzo said. “I want to thank the organizer and everybody that supported me, as well as the Americans, who were so friendly to me. I really enjoyed meeting new riders and establishing new connections.”
Michele Betti, Rizzo’s partner and the former chef d’equipe for the Italian eventing team, noted that the number and proximity of competitions in South Florida make it an appealing destination for European competitors, who often have to travel long distances between competitions.
“When you are here, all the competitions are close together, so you don’t have to travel a lot,” he said. “In Europe, we have a lot of competitions, but for example, when we have to go to Spain, we have to drive nearly 2,000 kilometers. The weather is another thing, honestly. I spoke with some people in Germany this morning and it was minus six (degrees Celsius). So it’s difficult.”
“It’s important to know other people, to open a little bit the mind, and try to understand,” Betti continued. “For example, here we can meet some people from Venezuela or Canada. We don’t have that opportunity when we are in Europe – they don’t come there.”
Rizzo and Betti credit the ample opportunities to compete as key to Rizzo’s improvement. “I think it’s a big help to compete one week after the other,” Betti explained. “You are all the time more focused. And if you learn that something is not so good, you have the opportunity to practice immediately, and you see how it’s working the week after. Every time you have to find something new to improve.”
“If you have one competition after two months, it’s much more difficult,” he pointed out. “You lose time, in one sense. You arrive in the next competition, you have forgotten which is your problem of the competition before.”
Spectators charmed by Rizzo’s bubbly personality, as well as those who haven’t yet seen the fashionable blonde in action, will be happy to hear that she plans to set up shop in South Florida for several months next year. She will bring several horses from Hof Marabunta, her base in Germany, to train and compete. Rizzo and Betti, an accomplished eventing and show jumping trainer, both look forward to taking on American students, who will benefit from the pair’s expertise and international experience.
Wellington, FL – February 6, 2013 – Silvia Rizzo’s trademark platinum blonde hair and blue sunglasses are a familiar sight on the winter dressage circuit in South Florida this season. Add Rizzo’s special brand of bling to the flashy bay-black Oldenburg stallion she’s brought to Wellington, Donnerbube 2, and you’ll understand why the pair has amassed a fan club.
Her bubbly personality paired with her style in the show ring while riding the licensed breeding stallion she affectionately calls “Bubi” has created a loyal following in South Florida.
Their fans followed Rizzo and her horse when the pair started the season with strong performances. They started with an 11th place in the Grand Prix and climbed up to a seventh place in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the Gold Coast Opener CDI-W Jan. 18-20. At the World Dressage Masters CDI5* Palm Beach the following weekend, she scored a 65.255% in the Grand Prix and earned fifth place in the Grand Prix Special with a 64.917% against a top-notch field of riders from Europe, Canada and the United States.