Wellington, FL – March 1, 2020 – Competition on Sunday wrapped up week eight at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). It included freestyle classes and the conclusion of the eighth annual Florida International Youth Dressage Championships (FIYDC), in which Spain’s Natalia Bacariza Danguillecourt stood youth champion for the third year running.
AGDF 2020 runs for 12 weeks, through March 29 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.
The 2020 FIYDC featured competition for riders in the Under 25, Young Rider, Junior Rider, Children and Pony divisions, offering them a chance to compete on the big stage in the Global International Arena at AGDF and showcase their talent at one of the world’s largest and most high-profile dressage competitions.
The series was supported by Sarah Davis Kessler, Terri Kane, USEF Dressage Owners Task Force, Hampton Green Farm, and Dressage4kids.
As well as standing supreme champion, Spain’s Natalia Bacariza Danguillecourt, from Madrid, led the young rider division, which had 12 entries. The 18-year-old rode Romantico Ymas, Yeguada De Ymas’ 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Bellissimo M in the freestyle. The pair earned high scores throughout the week, culminating in a winning 77.9% win in Sunday’s musical class.
Overall second-placed Camille Carier Bergeron (CAN) tussled with Bacariza all week, coming second to her twice — including with 77.15% in the freestyle. Bergeron led the individual test on Sound Of Silence 4, a 12-year-old gelding by San Amour, relegating Bacariza to second.
Riders competed in three tests through the Championships, including a team test that counted for 40%, an individual test for 40%, and a freestyle test for 20%. Competitors came from far and wide, representing the USA, Canada, Colombia, Germany, and Spain.
Bacariza, who is 18 and has been riding Romantico Ymas internationally for a year, said: “Today in the freestyle we had no mistakes. So I was super, super happy with our score. I could not believe it when I saw it on the scoreboard.
“It was quite an intense week and it was very tight with Camille. Then today we did really well. Last year here was our first time competing. We did the juniors. Then this year, we just moved up to Young Riders. He’s a little bit green in some areas, so we’re still working on things,” added Bacariza, who spends winters in Wellington and summers in Europe.
Thirteen combinations contested the under-25 division. The USA’s Ben Ebeling won the FEI Intermediate II with 69.706% to second-placed Hope Cooper finishing on 69.706%. He also won the grand prix with 69.188%, relegating Cooper to second (67.521%) once again. And in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, Cooper led on 71.65% until the very last competitor. Ebeling swooped in and won the class with 74.05% riding Illuster Van De Kampert, Nuvolari Holdings LLC’s 12-year old gelding by Spielberg — the same sire as Steffen Peters’ Suppenkasper.
“I’m feeling excited and I’m really happy with my horse,” said the 20-year-old. “At the Young Rider level, my horse was sometimes a little bit lazy. When I was bringing him up to the under-25 level, I was a little bit worried that he would just kind of peter out. But actually he gets super hot in the passage and in the piaffe. He kind of carries that throughout the test. It’s now becoming much more controlled and calm. This week I was able – I think for the first time in a show – to harness that energy and use it to my advantage.
“I really have to thank my parents, my sponsors of course, and everybody, especially my groom Luis, who is a great guy. All those people are really, really beneficial for me and my team.”
The youth champion from the North American championships, Annelise Klepper, topped the division of seven Junior riders to be crowned champion of her section. The 15-year-old rode the 13-year-old Happy Texas Moonlight, by Happy Diamond, to a 71.414% win in the team test, led the individual test with 71.814% and then made it three for three by acing the freestyle with 74.15%.
“It’s really exciting. I’ve had my junior horse for about a year and a half now. Last season in Wellington was our first season competing in the juniors. It’s really exciting to be able to come back because I did the Florida International Youth Championships with my pony two years ago when I was doing the FEI ponies. It’s really cool to come back in a new division and see it in a new light.
“My horse is an 18hh Oldenburg and he’s just so sweet,” she continued. “He’s my heart horse. I went to Germany looking for something maybe like 16hh, a nice schoolmaster to learn on. But I fell in love with him. I was really happy with our tests. He was super. It was kind of scary out in these big rings, but he was so good.”
Two USA combinations went head-to-head for the children’s division championship, with 13-year-old Maren Elise Fouche-Hanson edging out Justine Boyer. Fouche-Hanson scored 75.445% to win the team test and 72.875% to lead the individual test riding her own In My Feelings, a 25-year-old gelding of unknown breeding who continues to defy his age.
Fouche-Hanson, who was riding in her first ever CDI, was originally a mounted games rider and went to try In My Feelings planning on using him for games. However, she quickly discovered that he had previously been trained in dressage, and she ended up switching disciplines.
Fouche-Hanson, who is from Athens, Georgia, said: “When we got here to the CDI, it was a lot. I was very impressed with all the horses and thought, ‘Wow this is another level of dressage.’ Then for my dressage tests, they were amazing. I was very happy with him. He really pulled it together in the ring for our first time.
“My pony is 25, so we were just making sure he was comfortable and walking around a lot because he’s not used to being in a stall; he’s normally out. We might move up to ponies next year. We’ll just see how long he stays sound and keeps going. We have no idea right now. We have him for as long as we have him,” she added.
The lone pony rider, Scarlett Hansen, returned to defend her 2019 title and did so riding her own 15-year-old German gelding Reve De Glatigny. The pair scored 64.524% in the team test, 68.288% in the individual, and 66.86% in the freestyle. It was a bittersweet week for Hansen, as it marks the end of her competitive relationship with the home-bred son of Viersen K, as she is about to turn 16 and move out of ponies.
Hansen said: “We both learned together all the time, so it’s sad. We went through everything with him. I’ll really be starting over. Now I hope some other young riders can learn on him. He’s really a good horse, and now he’s really a school master. If he finds someone that he loves, then great, and after that he’s going to come back home and stay with me for the rest of his life.”
The winner’s sash in the FEI Intermediate I Freestyle CDI3*, presented by Harmony Sporthorses, went the way of Spain, with Pablo Gomez Molina laying down an unassailable 75.4%, having also won Friday’s non-freestyle class at the level.
The 25-year-old rode Furst Fiorano Ymas, a 13-year-old gelding by Furst Piccolo owned by his employer Yeguada De Ymas, where he has worked for seven years. Winner of Wednesday’s Prix St. Georges class, Cesar Parra, finished second on GK Don Cesar with 74.075%. The USA’s Lauren Sprieser and Guernsey Elvis (70.05%) filled third place.
The seven-time Swedish Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven showcased a new star this week. She brought out the 10-year-old stallion Van Vivaldi for the first time in an international setting. The pair won the FEI Intermediate II CDI3* on 75.765%, with a high score of over 77% from judge Peter Storr. Vilhelmson Silfven’s long-time sponsor Lövsta Stuteri acquired the horse five years ago.
In the Future Challenge classes, the USA’s Jodie Kelly-Baxley led the FEI Prix St. Georges, presented by Summit Farm. She rode Grayton Beach, by Negro, to 73.162%.
The top two places both win a place in the week-12 final at small tour, so second-placed Kelly Layne (AUS) also has a ticket after riding Rockpool into second with 70.148%.
In the big tour class presented by Lövsta, the FEI Intermediate II, Michelle Gibson (USA) clinched the one qualifying ticket on offer. She rode Barland I.M., by Briar, to 66.618%. Nancy Smith (USA) and the Damon Hill son Damon’s Design HW were right behind them on 66.102%.
Sunday marks the conclusion of week eight of the 12-week AGDF. International competition resumes in week 10 with the team CDIO show. National action continues next week (week nine). AGDF 2020 runs for 12 weeks, through March 29. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.
Photo credit: © SusanStickle.com.