By Alice Collins for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Wellington, FL – January 14, 2022 – The first “Friday Night Stars” evening freestyle of the 2022 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, Florida, did not disappoint. The highlight class of week one, the FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Lövsta Stuteri, produced top-drawer dressage, personal bests galore, and a winning score of over 81%. AGDF, which hosts seven weeks of CDI competition, runs through April 3.
The 34-year-old German rider Frederic Wandres pulled off another powerful, supple, and enchanting performance for 81.065% aboard Elena Knyaginicheva and Sergey Knyaginichev’s 12-year-old Bordeaux gelding Bluetooth OLD, who only started international grand prix in the spring of 2021.
As in the previous day’s World Cup™ Grand Prix, Anna Buffini (USA) rode her own FRH Davinia La Douce, by Don Frederico, into second place, and Ashley Holzer (USA) finished third on Dr. Diane Fellows’s Hochadel mare Havanna 145 (77.25%).
“I felt super tonight,” said Wandres, who also topped the Grand Prix and whose freestyle was made by Michael Erdmann. “My best score was 79% in Aachen in the four-star CDI, but today 81% is really something fantastic and incredible.
“Bluetooth is still a little bit green here and there, but he has still not had 10 international grands prix on his board, so he’s a young one. I’m super happy that he’s in that atmosphere and really delivering that kind of super results.”
Buffini, who is only in her second year of grand prix, logged a personal best of 78.485%, with one judge awarding over 80%. Buffini sings her own lyrics on her freestyle music.
“I really came into this season with not a lot of expectations, and I still haven’t had the mare long,” she said. “We upped our degree of difficulty to 10 a few weeks ago because we knew we needed to be harder, and to come out here and do what she did was incredible.”
Marie Medosi and Taylor Kade, who made Steffen Peters’ music for “Rave Horse” that went viral during the Tokyo Olympics, did Buffini’s music, and she created the choreography with her trainer Guenter Seidel.
The 27-year-old praised FRH Davinia La Douce, saying: “She’s so expressive when she clocks out her passage, and she goes in those extended canters. She’s not a huge mare, she’s not the biggest-moving mare, and she gives absolutely everything she can every single time.”
Ashley Holzer, 58, controlled Havanna 145’s energy admirably to finish third.
“She’s very lit up by the atmosphere, but I think it speaks volumes to the fact that she went in the ring and tried her heart out,” said Holzer, who competed for Canada at four Olympics before switching her nationality.
“The only mistake she made was completely my mistake, trying a little too much. She’s just showing me this year how much she’s trying, and to feel your horse try that hard — especially when they’re feeling the tension of the spectators — speaks volumes,” added Holzer, who rode to a Tom Hunt compilation based on the song “Havana” by Camila Cabello.
Antonia Ax:son Johnson of class sponsor Lövsta Stuteri said: “Last year we struggled with no audience and it’s been really difficult. When we walked in today and there was all the usual noise, plus even more, it was really unbelievable. We’ve been coming here for so many years and seeing that everything is so vibrant again, it’s really exciting because we need this for the sport of dressage, for our horses, and for ourselves. It was terrific.”
AGDF Director of Sport Thomas Baur was similarly delighted to welcome hustle and bustle back to the venue.
“We had a fantastic opening night, and there’s more to come with another six Friday nights,” he said. “I’d like to thank Antonia for her support, and we are looking forward to the Lövsta Future Challenge on Sunday to see the young grand prix horses, the next generation. It will be an exciting season.”
Judge at C, Colombian Cesar Torrente, was impressed by the quality on show. “We saw amazing sport today,” he said. “All three top riders showed really good riding. The first-place horse had amazing gaits and was very expressive in the passage-piaffe tour and was fault free. It was wonderful to see this good riding, good dressage at the beginning of the season.”
Results: FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Lövsta Stuteri
E, Cesar Torrente (COL); H, Maria Colliander (FIN); C, Magnus Ringmark (LUX); M, William Warren (USA); B, Agnieszka Majewska (POL)
Place, rider, nationality, horse, horse information: judge E%, judge H%, judge C%, judge M%, judge B%, final score
1. Frederic Wandres (GER) on Bluetooth OLD, Elena Knyaginicheva and Sergey Knyaginichev’s 12yo Oldenburg gelding by Bordeaux: 83.1, 81.05, 80.925, 82.025, 78.225, 81.065
2. Anna Buffini (USA) on FRH Davinia La Douce, her own 15yo Hanoverian mare by Don Frederico: 78.9, 76.125, 78.65, 78.1, 80.65, 78.485
3. Ashley Holzer (USA) on Havanna 145, Diane Fellows’s 15yo Hanoverian mare by Hochadel: 77.225, 76.95, 77.9, 77.175, 77, 77.25
4. Codi Harrison (USA) on Katholt’s Bossco, his own 15yo Danish Warmblood gelding by Don Schufro: 73.825, 74.775, 75.575, 72.875, 73.65, 74.14
5. Jan Ebeling (USA) on Status Royal OLD, Ann Romney’s 12yo Oldenburg gelding by Statesman OLD: 74.025, 70.925, 76.25, 73.175, 73.125, 73.5
6. Katie Duerrhammer (USA) on Quartett, Kylee Lourie’s 14yo DSP gelding by Quaterback: 71.25, 73.35, 72.825, 73.925, 75.3, 73.33
7. Paula Matute Guimón (ESP) on Delagronge, her own 14yo Oldenburg stallion by De Niro: 71.625, 69.8, 75.125, 72.625, 72.275, 72.29
8. Mikala Münter (USA) on Salsa Hit, Paul Bint’s 13yo Oldenburg gelding by Samba Hit III: 69.175, 69.1, 72.425, 74.85, 70.425, 71.195
9. Evi Strasser (CAN) on Déjà Vu Tyme, her own 15yo Hanoverian gelding by Dauphin: 63.425, 64.875, 62.425, 66.325, 67.25, 64.86
10. Missy Gilliland (USA) on Toledano XXXI, her own 14yo PRE gelding by Ambicioso XV: 62.3, 63, 59.95, 64.85, 68.35, 63.69