Laura Graves & Verdades Start in Wellington World Cup Grand Prix Thursday
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 4, 2015–Laura Graves and Verdades rode a final tuneup Wednesday ahead of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix that will be their first competition since the World Games six months ago.
This week’s World Cup event is the first of two remaining on the U.S. East Coast for Laura and her 13-year-old KWPN gelding to qualify for the Final in Las Vegas in mid-April.
The 27-year-old rider and “Diddy,” as she calls Verdades, performed their final preparations with coaching from Debbie McDonald in the centerpiece arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Stadium complex.
Thirty riders and horses from seven nations are scheduled to compete in the Grand Prix to earn a start in the Grand Prix Freestyle under lights Friday night. The Grand Prix will not be streamed live but the Freestyle will be.
Other top combinations in the Grand Prix include Florida-based Lars Petersen of Denmark on Mariett that are atop the World Cup North American League standings and Swedish Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén on two horses, Divertimento and Benetton Dream.
Ashley Holzer, the top Canadian rider, will start Dressed in Black in only the second international Grand Prix for the stallion.
Katherine Bateson-Chandler of Wellington will ride Alcazar in the 10-year-old KWPN gelding’s first international Grand Prix start.
The Grand Pix performance by Laura and Verdades, who finished fifth in the Freestyle at the world championships in Normandy, is one of the most anticipated of the Global circuit so far.
She will be vying for one of the two places reserved for North America at the Final. The second World Cup event and last on the U.S. East Coast is scheduled for next week.
Steffen Peters of San Diego, California already has one of the two scores he requires to qualify Legolas for Las Vegas where he became only the second American ever to win the World Cup by riding Ravel to victory in 2009. Debbie McDonald on Brentina was the other American titleholder of the annual dressage championship.
If Laura and Verdades earn a start at Las Vegas the pair may not have to go to Europe to compete for slots on the U.S. team for the Pan American Games in Toronto in July.
Laura has made it clear the welfare of Verdades is paramount and will carefully weigh the impact of extensive travel.
The last qualifying event in the world’s four geographic divisions for the World Cup Final will be in San Juan Capistrano, California Mar. 19-22.