Tina Konyot & Calecto Win Soggy Florida’s Spring Challenge CDI-W Grand Prix
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Feb. 11–U.S. World Equestrian Games team pair Tina Konyot and Calecto V won the Grand Prix at the Spring Challenge CDI-W Friday that took the unusual step of allowing riders fearful of the footing soaked by rain to scratch midway through the biggest CDI class of the day.
Tina of Palm City, Florida and the 13-year-old black stallion scored 70.043 per cent with Elisabeth Austin of Williston, Vermont, and Olivier second on 66.957 per cent and Shawna Harding of Aiken, South Carolina on Come On III in third place on 66.426 per cent.
Rain during the night and day swamped the FEI warmup ring and surrounding areas at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, a facility that cost more than $10 million of taxpayer funds to build for multiple uses, everything from Western shows to dressage to hunter-jumpers to dog breed competitions.
The FEI warmup arena had to be closed as it was unuseable–the second time at two consecutive CDI competitions, the first time three weeks ago as a result of over-watering by the water truck.
On Friday, rain was the culprit which led to as many as 20 horses at a time warming up in the remaining single warmup ring to serve four competition arenas in both national and international classes.
A “holding” warmup area beside the main covered arena where the CDI Grand Prix was staged was also closed because of rain, and riders were allocated a sand spectator viewing area under the roof to warm up.
Midway through the CDI Prix St. Georges, which had 42 entries from eight nations and was a qualifier for the Pan American Games later this year, organizers announced that officials had agreed riders could withdraw but could compete Saturday in the Intermediaire I. Riders are normally not allowed to withdraw from CDI events without veterinary certification or a personal emergency. Three riders withdrew.
Several top riders and trainers expressed concern about the footing for the World Dressage Masters a month away, the only CDI5* in the Western Hemisphere. The invitational event includes riders who qualify from a concurrent CDI3* and what would happen if it rains.
Organizers said that steps are being taken to make improvements to the footing before the Masters that is sponsored primarily by International Polo Club Palm Beach and Akiko Yamazaki, owner of Ravel. The prize money is provided by Exquis, that created the World Dressage Masters series now in its third year, and Moorlands Stables, both of The Netherlands.
World Dressage Masters organizers announced Friday the European riders who have accepted invitations to the €100,000 (US$135,000) event, as previously reported by dressage-news.com, are: Germany’s Anja Plönzke and Le Mont d’Or (No. 34 in the world), who competed at WDM Palm Beach in 2010; Michal Rapcewicz and Randon (No. 33) of Poland; Italy’s Valentina Truppa and Chablis (No. 41); Christa Laarakkers and Divoza Horseworld Ovation (No. 43), who competed in Palm Beach last year, and Denmark’s Anne van Olst and Exquis Clearwater (No. 56) who competed at the 2009 WDM Palm Beach.
Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, and Ravel, winner of two individual medals at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky last year, and ranked 4th in the world, head up the list of entries.
Sweden’s Tinne Wilhelmsson-Silfvén, the 20th ranked rider in the world, who is spending the winter in Florida with a stable full of horses including her top mount, Favourit, is also scheduled to compete. Tinne is the rider for Antonia Ax:son Johnson, who heads up the Swedish-based Axel Johnson Group that has extensive business interests in Europe and North America.
Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer and Pop Art, a combination that like Steffen and Ravel has competed in the two previous World Dressage Masters events in Florida, is ranked No. 23 while U.S. WEG team member Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida, and Calecto V are ranked 28th.
In addition to the competition, Dutch Olympian Hans Peter Minderhoud, a member of the gold medal dressage team at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, will give a Master Class clinic during the event.
Results of the Grand Prix (click GP (GPF) here
Results for other CDI classes, click PSG,JR,YR here