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American Women Sweep Top Three at AGDF 9 FEI Grand Prix Freestyle

Laura Graves and Verdades. Photos copyright SusanJStickle.com.

Wellington, FL – March 6, 2015 — Three American women were victorious at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival’s (AGDF) Week 9 “Friday Night Stars” FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, presented by Everglades Dressage. Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades scored an incredible 78.875% to take the win, followed by Lisa Wilcox (USA) and Pikko del Cerro HU in second with a 76.325%, and Shelly Francis (USA) and Doktor in third receiving a 75.950%.

CLICK to watch the winning freestyle for Laura and Verdades!
Video courtesy of Campfield Videos.

The Stadium at AGDF housed another sell-out crowd under the lights with Carla Jablonski, a mezzosoprano from The Metropolitan Opera and a graduate of The Julliard School, performing the national anthem accompanied by a string quartet from the Frost School of Music. Competition at AGDF will continue throughout the weekend with a number of classes including the highly anticipated Derby class, which will begin at 11 am on Sunday.

Laura Graves and Verdades are in their first competition back from their outstanding finish at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) and are making a statement with their performances so far this weekend. Graves, who previously stated that yesterday’s Grand Prix was a difficult test for the two, said she felt much more comfortable with her ride in the Freestyle. “He was a little nervous going in, but every time we get into that box he does not ever fail to impress me and nine times out of ten will behave himself,” she said. “I’m glad to be here and it’s been a really long time, if ever, that I’ve led a victory lap and I’m honored to have had two American women behind me.”

Wilcox and Pikko del Cerro HU have been tested in the past year with their partnership and tonight was a breakthrough moment for the duo. “I am thrilled. For us, he was so fantastic before the year he had off and you never know what you’re going to have bringing them back, but I feel like he is better and stronger than ever,” she explained. “We’re gaining strength from show to show and we can be a little inconsistent still, but overall I am just so happy with where he is going and what he’s becoming.”

Francis and Doktor have been one of the most consistent pairs on the circuit this season, rarely ever out of the top five in any of their classes. The trust between the two is clear as Doktor continues to improve with Francis’ guidance and builds upon his scores each week. “We had a few little bobbles and he was a little bit tenser in the warm-up than usual, but I have been so proud of him that we continue to put in consistent performances. He’s so workman-like throughout each and every test,” said Francis.

Bethany Peslar and Endel Ots of Everglades Dressage, sponsors of the Large Tour classes for Week 9, continue to find ways to grow the sport, especially through their sponsorship of AGDF. “We’re really committed to giving back to the sport and sponsoring an event like this is very exciting for us. We are looking forward to the rest of circuit and to next year,” said Ots.

Allyn Mann of Adequan®, title sponsor for the entire season of AGDF, was on hand to share his thoughts of the night. He expressed, “We have an unbelievable group of women here with us tonight, and I am so proud to see all of them find this success. I’m honored to be sitting here with them and that I am able to see their incredible talent and their wonderful horses. This group of people is really great, and I am lucky to be a part of this opportunity.”

Linda Zang, Judge at C tonight, was impressed with the quality of the tests and the progress the United States is making to strengthen the sport of dressage. “The judges really worked tonight. The riders are progressing and this program continues to make moves towards the top of the dressage world,” she stated. “As a judge, and I speak for the entire panel, we had to work hard. It wasn’t just sitting and giving scores. All of the riders are getting so keen on their points and we’re looking at consistent (scores of) 7, 8, and 9.”

Several awards were given throughout the night, highlighting the hard work of competitors from all divisions of the show, both National and International. The “Best Horse Owner for Overall Highest Percentage”, presented by Jill Irving, was given to Carla Bahr (also the breeder) and Cyrus for their scores at AGDF 5. Cyrus, a 2009 gelding (Contuci x Corthena, Cor Noir), and rider Tom Dvorak (CAN) had a high score of 78.182% in Level Three. Anne Sparks, owner of Gallant Reflections HU, was given the award for her horse’s performances at AGDF 7.

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz and Rassing's Lonoir
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Olivia LaGoy-Weltz and Rassing’s Lonoir

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz received the “Winner of the Prix St. Georges Owner Award” also presented by Jill Irving. LaGoy-Weltz also took home the “Carol Lavell Award” presented by Carol Lavell and Dressage Foundation. Laura Graves was presented the “Best Horse Owner Award for the Grand Prix Freestyle” presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, as well as the “Adequan® High Score Award” for the Grand Prix Freestyle.

A special presentation was made to present Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center with a check for $5,000, donated by Wellington Equestrian Realty on behalf of Janne Rumbough, who won the Best Owner Award for the Grand Prix Freestyle at AGDF 7 as owner of My Lady, ridden by Mikala Gundersen.

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (USA) and Rassing’s Lonoir had a spectacular showing in the tremendously large FEI Prix St. Georges class of Week 9 presented by Peacock Ridge. The class, which boasted more than 50 entries, was competitive till the very end with five pairs scoring above a 71.000%. The duo scored an impressive 74.158% to take home the win.

LaGoy-Weltz and Rassing’s Lonoir have had a very strong season so far at AGDF and continue to improve upon their scores from earlier in the season. “Everything came together in this class. It was one of the first rides where I could really trust him. He occasionally can throw in some hot behavior, which is good; it just takes a while to get that under control and harness it together in the right way,” she remarked. “He was so on last night. His confidence has really grown, and it’s clear that he’s starting to feel more comfortable with himself.”

LaGoy-Weltz has been working on controlling the tremendous power of “Lono”, and they nailed it in their test, which speaks volumes to the amount of work LaGoy-Weltz has dedicated to ensuring he is brought up correctly. She explained, “We finally were able to put that power where we wanted it and he wasn’t trying to take over, but we kept it throughout the test, which has been our main goal.”

Competition will continue at AGDF 9 Palm Beach Dressage Derby tomorrow with both the FEI Intermediaire 1 CDI-W, presented by Peacock Ridge, and the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI-W, presented by Everglades Dressage, followed by highlight Derby class on Sunday morning and the FEI CDI-W Intermediaire 1 Freestyle. For more information on AGDF, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

About the Adequan Global Dressage Festival:

The Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) is one of the world’s largest international and national dressage circuits featuring 7 FEI Dressage events, including a 5* and the only FEI Nations’ Cup Series CDIO in the Western Hemisphere. The AGDF offers more than $650,000 in prize money for the seven international competitions, making it one of the richest circuits in the world. The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center facility includes the Van Kampen covered arena (made possible by Kimberly and Frederic Boyer and family) and four outdoor arenas with world-class footing, 200 permanent stalls, and a VIP seating area.

Please visit
or call 561-793-5867 for more information.

Adequan Global Dressage Festival is located at
13500 South Shore Blvd, Wellington, Florida 33414

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations

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