It turned out to be a landmark week for Canadian dressage riders at the CDIO3* Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), held Feb. 19-23 in Wellington, FL, USA.
This was the seventh of 12 consecutive weeks of the AGDF series, which draws some of the best dressage riders and horses from around the world. Week seven was especially prestigious. Not only was the competition host to the Stillpoint Farm CDIO Nations Cup and the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships, it was also the only CDIO-level competition held in the Western Hemisphere.
Canada 1 Takes Team Silver Medal
Canada Team 1 put in impressive performances during the Nations Cup competition, taking the Team Silver Medal with a total score of 414.448%. The team was made up of Megan Lane of Loretto, ON, Brittany Fraser of New Glasgow, NS, Belinda Trussell of Stouffville, ON, and Chris Von Martels of Ridgetown, ON.
The Nations Cup competition was based on the Pan American Games format, meaning that both small tour (Prix St. Georges and Intermediate I) and big tour (Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special) scores contributed to the overall team result.
The team competition took place over two days, with the CDIO3* FEI Grand Prix and the CDIO3* FEI Prix St. Georges scores from opening day on Feb. 19 being combined with the CDIO3* FEI Intermediate I and CDIO3* FEI Grand Prix Special scores on Feb. 20 for one total team score.
Von Martels and his 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Zilverstar, kicked things off for Canada Team 1 on day one, earning seventh place in the CDIO3* FEI Prix St. Georges with a score of 67.053%. Later in the day, Trussell made a significant contribution, placing fourth in CDIO3* FEI Grand Prix with her score of 68.760% aboard Robyn Eames’ 14-year-old German-bred gelding, Anton.
This put Canada Team 1 in fourth place after day one with a total score of 204.339. However, they quickly shot up to their final second place finish after putting in solid performances on day two.
Trussell was the highest-placed Canadian of the day, riding Anton to a score of 70.412% in the CDIO3* FEI Grand Prix Special for a third place finish. In the CDIO3* FEI Intermediate I, Brittany Fraser was the top Canadian team member. Riding her nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, All In, she finished third with a score of 69.526%. Von Martels and Zilverstar took fourth after scoring 68.711%, while Lane and San D’Or, a seven-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Deer Ridge Equestrian, took sixth with 68.421%.
The Canada Team 2, consisting of Tom Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON, Jill Irving of Moncton, NB, Maya Markowski of St. Clements, ON, and Evi Strasser of Ste-Adele, QC finished in fifth place with a final combined score of 400.632%. A total of nine teams from seven countries took part in the Nations Cup.
The Individual component of the Nations Cup happened on Feb. 21 in the form of a combined CDIO3* FEI Intermediate I/Grand Prix Freestyle. Trussell and Anton finished fifth after scoring 72.500%. Fraser and All In also placed in the top 10, taking seventh with 71.225%.
The Canadian teams were supported by Chef d’Equipe Liz Steacie, Team Manager Christine Peters, Technical Advisor Dr. Volker Moritz, and Special Advisor Desi Dillingham.
“(Canada has) a great group of people around us, and it’s true, Canadians are really supportive of each other,” explained Trussell. “It’s been a great experience and we all just stand by each other. I just want to thank everybody, the sponsors and the organizers, for putting this wonderful show on.”
Canadians Dominate CDI3* Competition
In addition to the Nations Cup competition, AGDF week seven also hosted CDI3* competition.
Canadians dominated the Grand Prix division, with Karen Pavicic of Vancouver, BC leading the results after back-to-back wins aboard Don Daiquiri, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding she co-owns with Jayne Essig.
Pavicic’s success began on Feb. 21 when she topped the leaderboard in the FEI Grand Prix with a score of 69.440%.
“I was really happy with my horse today,” said Pavicic of her win. “He was a little bit tired when I brought him out, but overall, super rideable and relaxed. My goal was to be mistake-free, and I accomplished that for the most part. I’m really happy about that.”
She followed up the next day with an even score of 70% to win the FEI Grand Prix Special.
“It’s been a fantastic journey,” added Pavicic, speaking about her six-year partnership with Don Daiquiri. “I think that’s the really great thing about this sport. As the partnership grows and develops, your results I think speak for themselves.”
However, Pavicic wasn’t the only Canadian racking up results. Canadian riders held four of the top five spots in the FEI Grand Prix.
Dvorak finished second, scoring 68.620% aboard Viva’s Salieri W, owned by Christine and Augustin Walch. This result was extra sweet for Dvorak, since the 13-year-old Hanoverian stallion is still fairly inexperienced at the grand prix level after having to pause his career due to an injury.
Third place went to Jacqueline Brooks of Cedar Valley, ON and her 2012 Olympic partner, D Niro, a 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Brookhaven Dressage Inc. Jill Irving of Team Canada 2 was fifth aboard Degas 12, her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding.
In the FEI Grand Prix Special, Canadian dressage riders repeated their feat of commanding the top of the leaderboard.
In addition to Pavicic’s win, Jill Irving and Degas 12 placed third with a score of 68.667%. They were followed by Dvorak and Viva’s Salieri W in fourth with 67.992%, and Diane Creech of Caistor Centre, ON in fifth with a score of 67.118% aboard Louise and Doug Leatherdale’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Devon L.
Brooks and D Niro closed out the CDI3* portion of the competition on Feb. 23 with a second place finish in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, where she tried out a new freestyle routine and scored 71.275%.
“He’s just mature now. He knows his job now,” she commented about D Niro after their performance. “I finally feel like the fitness and the strength and understanding are all at the same level.”
Tanya Strasser-Shostak Brings Home Youth Championships Title
Yet another component of the stacked schedule at week seven of the AGDF was the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships, which featured FEI Pony, Junior, and Young Rider divisions.
2013 Junior Equestrian of the Year, Tanya Strasser-Shostak of Ste-Adele, QC rode the momentum of her incredibly successful season to add even more titles to her name: FEI Young Rider Champion and Overall Champion of the youth competition.
Partnered with her mother, Evi Strasser’s former grand prix mount-the 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Action Tyme-Tanya pulled off a hat trick, winning the Team, Individual and Freestyle classes, and earning a total, cumulative score of 136.403%.
“I’m very happy. Obviously, I had a really good weekend and my horse was always on the same page as me. He’s always trying, so it’s just great to have such a successful weekend,” commented Tanya about her results. “(Action Tyme has taught me) so much. I’m so lucky that one day he can let me do the grand prix stuff, the next day we can go back to Young Riders, and the next day we can go hacking. Nothing fazes him, so he has taught me everything.”
Fellow Canadian Young Rider and 2013 Individual Gold Medalist from the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC), Laurence Blais-Tetreault of Montreal, QC also earned top finishes. Paired with Michelangelo, a 16-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Mathilde Blais-Tetreault, she finished second in both the individual and freestyle classes, as well as third in the Team class.
Additionally, Naima Moreira-Laliberte, 2013 NAJYRC silver medalist took home an impressive result. Riding Diamond, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Fiducie Naga Trust, she earned second place in the Young Rider Team class.
Furthermore, Canada was well represented in the FEI Junior division. Alyssa Gaudet of Memramcook, NB rode her 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Palladio to a sixth place finish in the Team, followed by fourth place in the Individual.
The CDIO3* judging panel at the AGDF included Canada’s own Lorraine MacDonald, an FEI 4* judge from Terra Cotta, ON. Additional judges were Gabriel Martin Armando of Argentina (FEI 4*), Anne Gribbons of the USA (FEI 5*), Bo Jena of Sweden (FEI 4*), and Cesar Torrente of Colombia (FEI 3*).
Canadian dressage riders will continue to have a strong presence during the remaining five weeks of international competition at the 2014 AGDF series. For full information and additional results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.net.