Kelly Layne Debuts 2 Horses at USA CDI Grand Prix Posting Scores Among Highest for Aussie in 2013

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Kelly Layne riding Von Primaire, one of two horses to debut in CDI Grand Prix in USA, launching campaign yo qualify for Australian team at 2014 World Equestrian Games.
Kelly Layne on Von Primaire in USA World Cup event, one of two horses she rode in their debut at CDI Grand Prix debut to launch campaign to qualify for Australian team at 2014 World Equestrian Games. Photo: Courtesy Helen Anstee

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Kelly Layne launched her campaign for a place on Australia’s 2014 World Equestrian Games team with two horses performing their first CDI Grand Prix in the United States that scored among the highest for an Australian combination anywhere in the world so far this year.

The 38-year-old Kelly competed outside her home base of Wellington, Florida for the first time since moving there four years ago to travel 1,350 miles (2,170km)–200 miles (320km) further than from Melbourne to Brisbane–to the Saugerties, New York World Cup event.

The two horses she showed are Udon P, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding (Heirarch x Uniform), and Von Primaire, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding (Don Primaire x Amiral).

On Udon, owned by Whistlejacket Farm, Kelly scored 67.936 per cent for fourth place in the Grand Prix and 71.850 per cent for third place in the World Cup Freestyle. With Von Primaire, of which she is a half-owner with Beatriz Torbay who rode for Venezuela at the 2011 Pan American Games, the Grand Prix score was 67.016 per cent for seventh and 68.792 per cent for the third spot in the Grand Prix Special.

For the record, the ground jury included three 5* judges and two 4*s.

Kelly works with Steffen Peters when he holds his frequent clinics in Wellington and her American husband, Steve, provides daily eyes on the ground. They moved to Wellington four years ago after living in Colorado when her husband transferred home. She trained and competed in Europe and was on the Australian team at the WEG in Aachen, Germany in 2006.

She is stabled literally across the road from the Global Dressage Festival grounds that are part of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center which will stage six CDIs–three World Cup events, a CDI4*, a CDI5* and a CDIO3* Nations Cup from January through the end March.

Saugerties was the first of two World Cup events she traveled north to compete in, the second one being Dressage at Devon on Philadelphia’s storied Main Line later this week.

“Our thinking for Saugarties and Devon was to get into the arena where everyone including myself was a little outside their comfort zone,” she told dressage-news.com. “Competing in Wellington we are very spoiled by the convenience and amazing facilities.

“Hitting the road gives me a chance to test our preparedness for going into the Wellington show season and also for the big trip to Europe.”

The “big trip to Europe” is the requirement of Australia’s new selection criteria for the WEG that places U.S.-based combinations at the greatest disadvantage in the qualifcations that will be held in Europe. The top Australian combination gets a pass to the final eight, the European-based riders are already there while those living in the United States are required to get two of their three results at European shows just to try to get into the final eight, no matter their record.

Kelly Layne on Amoucher riding on the Australian team at WEG in Aachen, Germany in 2006. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kelly Layne on Amoucher riding on the Australian team at WEG in Aachen, Germany in 2006. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

However, none of the handful of American-based Aussies including Kelly are complaining, focusing instead on producing results.

“We could not be happier with both Von Primaire and Udon,” Kelly said. “They felt amazing in their work and with my support team from Wellington we managed to keep our routine almost the same–which I’m sure contributed to our success in their first CDI on the Big Tour.

“So, yes, I’m thrilled with both boys and feel very fortunate to have two exceptional horses ready for the show season.

Beatriz Torbay, the joint owner of Von Primaire, and her parents have been “wonderful supporters for over two years and have made it possible for me to own VP.”

The horse did his first Grand Prix, a national competition, in April this year and has steadily improved with each show as the pair gained more confidence.

“He is an incredible athlete that constantly amazes me with his work ethic and willingness to trust me,” Kelly said.

Udon P, or “Noodles,” as he is nicknamed, has been with Kelly for six months and they performed their first Grand Prix, again at national level, in July.

“Like any partnership, building trust and confidence takes time,” she said, “but I have to say we are off to a very good start.

“Noodles is a very classically trained horse who has the confirmation to easily lower behind in the higher collection movements. While at 18 hands (183cm) he has so much power that he answers the lightest aids. Like VP we are having so much fun getting more confident with each test as we get ready for the Wellington show season.”

Devon is expected to be much tougher than Saugerties–the lineup will include Tina Konyot and Calecto V, U.S. 2012 Olympic and 2010 WEG team members; Cesar Parra who rode for Colombia at the Olympics and the WEG and as a U.S. citizen in the 2011 Pan American Games, and Mikala Gundersen and My Lady will join Denmark’s Nations Cup team mate Lars Petersen and Mariett.

“After Devon we will take a hard look at where we need to focus in the fall and hopefully hit the first Wellington shows even stronger and more confident than today,” Kelly said.