USA’s Tina Konyot & Calecto V Win Devon Grand Prix Freestyle

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Tina Konyot and Calecto V in Grand Prix Freestyle. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Tina Konyot and Calecto V in Grand Prix Freestyle. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

DEVON, Pennsylvania, Sept. 26–Tina Konyot and Calecto V performed their first musical freestyle together Saturday night to capture the World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle in heavy rain under lights.

“I’m actually overwhelmed,” said Tina of North Stonington, Connecticut after the ride that scored 72.600 per cent, with Canada’s Jacqueline Brooks on Balmoral second on 69.800 per cent, thus reversing the order of finish from Friday’s Grand Prix.

Lauren Sammis of South Orange, New Jersey, on  Sagacious HF finished third on 69.75 per cent.

The rain started two hours before the freestyle and continued without letup through the night, but the riders said there were no problems with the footing. And spectators were undaunted by the rain as they packed the bleachers and lined the rails five deep around the arena.

Linda Zang, president of the ground jury, said that the judging panel made no allowances for the rain as “everyone was in the same situation.”

“The electric atmosphere, the lights, the crowd… all of those are the same for everyone.”

Despite heavy rain, Tina Konyot hugs Calecto V at the completion of the freestyle. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Despite heavy rain, Tina Konyot hugs Calecto V at the completion of the freestyle. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Calecto V, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion, has a “big future” and “could be a top, top horse for our country,” Linda Zang said.

Tina Konyot, who missed the 2009/2010 Florida winter circuit after breaking her ankle in nine places, said there were a lot of little things to fix, including getting Calecto stronger.

“But he has so much talent and is so happy doing his job,” she said.

She said the music for the freestyle was created for the mare, Ana Karenina, that she rode two to three years ago, but after practicing it three times she felt it fit Calecto well enough to use it for their first freestyle.

She disclosed that she has reunited with her boyfriend from 27 years ago, Roger Atfield, an English-born Hall of Fame Thoroughbred horse trainer who lives in Toronto. So, she said, she will spend more time in Canada.

Jacqueline Brooks, of Cedar Valley, Ontario, described Balmoral as a “mudder” who was at home in the rain.

Jacqueline Brooks and Balmoral. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Jacqueline Brooks and Balmoral. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

She said that her experiences with the 10-year-old Canadian-bred horse this weekend had taughter her a lot. She will campaign both Balmoral and her Olympic mount Gran Gesto through the Floria winter circuit for a place on the Canadian team for next year’s WEG.

Lauren Sammis, whose twin baby daughters had come to Devon, stayed at the hotel and did not come to the arena to watch their mother ride the last performance of the Billy Joel freestyle that was created in honor of Judy Guden who was the owner of Sagacious with her husband, Al, but died of breast cancer shortly after Lauren and the horse won team gold and individual silver at the 2007 Pan American Games.

She said that Sagacious was more used to the show grounds with its bright lights and bleachers close to the arena than Friday night’s Grand Prix when he was spooked by his first night class.

Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF in the Grand Prix musical freestyle. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF in the Grand Prix musical freestyle. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The start of the ride was a little shaky as the shiny ponchos and umbrellas added to the atmosphere of lights and rain.

It was, however, “another bit of experience” in developing the horse for world class competition.

She said Sagacious will be given time off before heading to Florida for the winter circuit and the CDI competitions required to qualify for WEG.