Canada’s Jacqueline Brooks & Balmoral Win Devon Grand Prix for Freestyle
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
DEVON, Pennsylvania, Sept. 25–Canada’s Jacqueline Brooks rode Gran Gesto to a “shocker” of his first Grand Prix victory Friday night, claiming the test for the Freestyle under the lights on a chilly Friday night at Dressage at Devon.
Brooks of Cedar Valley, Ontario on the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Anne Welch and Brinc Ltd. of Toronto scored 66.936 per cent, squeaking by Tina Konyot and Colecto V by 0.085 per cent.
Konyot of North Stonington, Connecticut on the powerful 11-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion scored 66.851 per cent and Todd Flettrich of Coatesville, Pennsylvania on the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Otto was third with 65.830 per cent.
The field was depleted with the absence of Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer whose father died earlier in the week, and Denmark’s Mikala Munter Gundersen whose mount, Leonberg, was withdrawn after sirens of emergency vehicles at a house fire next to the show grounds a day earlier spooked the horse.
“It was a shocker,” she said after the ride as Balmoral had a year off while she concentrated on her Olympic mount Gran Gesto in 2008.
“He shocked me. Oh, my God. He was loving it in there. I was laughing in the test it was so much fun.” She said she patted the horse 15 times throughout the test.
Balmoral was bred in Canada and won the five and six year old North American Breeder awards which she said was a testament to the quality of horses being bred in North America.
She said the awards ceremony was emotional with her groom holding up her mobile phone while the Canadian national anthem was played so her parents could hear it in Canada.
She said she had also called Ashley Holzer, who is her coach, to tell her the result.
Three of the five judges placed Tina first but Christoff Hess scored as much as five percentage points lower than the higher scores to place the pair fifth in his ranking.
This was only the fifth Grand Prix for the pair since Tina bought the horse 2 1/2 years ago, and the first under lights in an atmosphere like at Devon where there are grand stands on the two long sides close to the arena.
“The mistakes,” she said, “were those of a young Grand Prix horse, such as in the transitions piaffe to passage.
“We need a few more Grand Prix under our belt and I will fix those mistakes I promise you.”
Overall, she said, “I was crying I was so happy.”
The score by Christoph Hess “crucified me” but she said she will work to correct the mistakes for which he penalized her.
For complete scores click on RESULTS on the Home Page.