Tina Konyot & Calecto V Match Previous Best Score to Capture Wellington World Cup Freestyle

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Tina Konyot and Calecto V mathing their previous best score to win the Wellington World Cup Freestyle. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 15–The United States Olympic team combination of Tina Konyot and Calecto V performed a Grand Prix Freestyle to match their previous personal best result to capture the Global Dressage Festival World Cup event Friday night.

The pair ignored a rainy night, a violent storm-created interruption to the Grand Prix a day earlier leading to a lackluster ride and a heartbreaking elimination from the World Dressage Masters three weeks ago to show off one of their best performances that won the pair a score of 76.775 per cent. That equalled their best ever Freestyle result from two years ago, also in Florida.

Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén premiered a new Cees Slings’ Freestyle of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” jazz composition that she rode for the first time in the warmup arena a few hours before the nighttime event to take second place on Divertimento with 74.700 per cent. See the ride here.

Jacqueline Brooks rode D Niro to the compilation of tunes by Canadian for third place on 70.900 per cent to consolidate her second place ranking in the World Cup North American League (NAL) behind fellow Canadian David Marcus and Chrevi’s Capital. Friday night’s Freestyle was the sixth of eight NAL qualifiers to select two combinations for the Final in Gothenberg, Sweden in April.

The rain that has hit Palm Beach in the past two days–the first in more than five weeks of the Winter Equestrian Festival and the companion Global Dressage Festival–kept spectators around the open air arena to a sparse few hundred and wet electrical wiring caused crackles and breaks in the music. And there was grumbling from some of the dozens of competitors who had been prevented from stabling their horses in temporary tent stalls for two days because the local government held up signing off on paperwork to permit occupancy.

Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén and Divertimento dancing to Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" jazz Freestyle. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Even so, the top finishers in the second of two $50,000 World Cup events at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Stadium complex were in high spirits.

“You go from feeling so badly about the recent past and even yesterday was a bad experience with the weather,” said Tina Konyot of Palm City Florida after the ride on the 15-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion (Come Back II x Bahera x Rastell) that she has competed at international Grand Prix for 3 1/2 years including American teams at the World Equestrian Games in 2010 and the Olympics in London last summer.

“We were looking to get back on our feet after the Masters” where the black horse stumbled and, it seemed, the sharp movement of the rider’s spur drew blood that was not seen until the equipment inspection after the pair completed the Grand Prix. They were eliminated in the first application of the rule that was written to come into effect Jan. 1 this year and that had previously been unwritten but universal practice by judges.

“Riding him at home he has been feeling fantastic. Today he felt wonderful. I rode just to be happy.”

Tina said her elderly mother is having health problems that led her to consider witdrawing but her boyfriend, Canadian Hall of Fame Thoroughbred racehorse trainer Roger Attfield, advised her, “Go down and enjoy yourself and do the best you can.”

Tina’s score is the highest of any of the declared North American League riders for the World Cup but two results are required and this was her first.

“I don’t have any extreme goals with Calecto,” she said. “I’ve completed my bucket list. I have a strong, healthy horse. I needed to feel good today, I truly needed to have a good feeling in the arena.”

Because he was in such good form, she will now likely enter one of the two remaining World Cup events in Florida as well as the Global Dressage Festival $120,000 CDI5* in April. If she is invited to Sweden for the Final, she said, it would be her sole competition in Europe because she would have to look for ways to cover expenses. North American League riders receive only enough money from European organizers to pay for about half the cost of transportation of their horse and other expenses although American organizers pay the entire costs of Europeans–typically numbering 12 to 15–when the Final is held in the United States.

Canada's Jacqueline Brooks and D Niro in the passage-extended trot-passge finale of their popular all-Canadian Freestyle. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Tinne described as “great fun” the kür that Cess Slings created as a tribute to the great American jazz composer and pianist who died last December at the age of 91. Cees also created the Freestyles for Favourit who has been sold as well as Don Auriello on whom she has already qualified for the World Cup Final in her homeland.

“I really like the music,” she said, “it fits him well.

“It’s a challenge to a ride a new test, especially when you get the music ony 24 hours ahead of time. But it felt good.”

The 11-year-old Westfalen gelding (Di Versace x Fatima x Ferragamo) felt better than in a CDI wo weeks earlier but camera flashes made him a little tense and led to some mistakes.

Jacqueline Brooks said that as she did not get the ride on D Niro until late in the qualifying period for the 2012 Olympics, the year was all about making him happy.

“This year is about taking our time,” she said, “seeing how he shows. Tonight, he was like full on. He was awesome to ride, a way better frame and a way better way of going. It’s a great feeling when they’re really happy doing what they’re doing.”

She said that she, too, would have to raise funds if she is invited to the World Cup but the main goal with the 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding is the World Equestrian Games in Normandy next year.

Lisa Wilcox and Horses Unlimited's Pikko del Cerro HU, that six months ago was competing in developing Grand Prix classes, placed fourth in the World Cup event. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com placed
The score for Heather Blitz and Paragon, reserve for the U.S. team at last year's Olympics, disappointed spectators. The pair placed ninth with 69.000 per cent, the lowest placing and lowest Freestyle score since starting CDI Grand Prix a year ago. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Results:

FEI Grand Prix Freestyle l
E: Weatherwax – USA H: Mandl – AUT C: Rockwell – USA M: Roudier – FRA B: VanDaele – BEL
Rider Ctzn Horse E % H % C % M % B % T % Pl
Konyot, Tina USA Calecto V 77.250% 76.000% 76.625% 77.125% 76.875% 76.775% 1
Vilhelmson-Silfven, Tinne SWE Divertimento 70.375% 79.375% 72.375% 75.500% 75.875% 74.700% 2
Brooks, Jacquline M. CAN D Niro 68.500% 71.250% 72.625% 69.500% 72.625% 70.900% 3
Wilcox, Lisa USA Pikko del Cerro HU 69.875% 72.750% 68.875% 69.000% 67.875% 69.675% 4
Francis, Shelly USA Doktor 68.125% 71.500% 68.375% 68.750% 71.625% 69.675% 4
Marcus, David CAN Don Kontes 68.750% 69.000% 70.750% 66.500% 72.125% 69.425% 6
Koford, James USA Rhett 68.125% 69.875% 70.625% 71.250% 66.625% 69.300% 7
Irwin, Jaimey CAN Lindor’s Finest 68.625% 70.250% 70.625% 66.875% 69.875% 69.250% 8
Blitz, Heather USA Paragon 70.125% 69.750% 68.750% 67.500% 68.875% 69.000% 9
Strasser, Evi CAN Action Tyme 69.125% 67.625% 68.375% 66.750% 69.000% 68.175% 10
Meisner, Cheryl CAN Tango 65.750% 66.500% 65.750% 63.625% 65.750% 65.475% 11
Strawson, Barbara USA Amicelli 59.000% 56.875% 54.750% 55.125% 55.500% 56.250% 12