Laura Graves & Verdades Recover Top Form to Win Wellington World Cup Freestyle

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Laura Graves on Verdades celebrating their Wellington World Cup victory and their first ever win at Grand Prix level. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Laura Graves on Verdades celebrating their Wellington World Cup victory and their first ever win at Grand Prix level. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 6, 2015–America’s Laura Graves and Verdades recovered the form that placed them fifth in the world championships to win the Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle under lights Friday night.

The first ever Grand Prix level win by Laura and Verdades on a score of 78.875 per cent that was the second highest, surpassed only by the 82.036 per cent for the performance at the World Games in Normandy last August.

Video of the the Freestyle by Laura and Verdades can be seen here.

As they begin their second year at Grand Prix after a six-month break, a newly reinvigorated 27-year-old Laura who lives in Geneva, Florida less than three hours from Wellington made it clear she is determined to make it to the World Cup Final in Las Vegas in mid-April.

The win led a sweep of the top three places by American combinations–Lisa Wilcox of Wellington on Pikko del Cerro HU placed second on 76.325 per cent and Shelly Francis of neighboring Loxahatchee on Doktor was third on 75.950 per cent.

Lisa Wilcox on Pikko del Cerro HU in the World Cup Freestyle. © 2015 SusanJStickle.com
Lisa Wilcox on Pikko del Cerro HU in the World Cup Freestyle. © 2015 SusanJStickle.com

Lisa Wilcox was overjoyed with the result that showed the horse back in top form after a year out of competition with an injury.

The first place by Laura and the 13-year-old KWPN gelding before a full house at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Stadium complex also ended the winning streak of six straight victories that was the longest in the career of Florida-based Danish rider Lars Petersen and Mariett who finished in fourth place.

“Yesterday was a tough experience for me,” Laura said. “Last year nobody was watching and I rode like that. Yesterday, I rode cautiously like I was being watched.”

Lisa Wilcox, a seasoned international rider, talked to her after the ride and put back into her head to ride the way she had.

“Unfortunately, what I’ve been working on in the past couple of months has been out of the show ring and I now know I need to be back in show ring.”

In addition to the two competitions seeking to qualify for the World Cup Final, Laura said that if she is selected she will ride on America’s team at the Nations Cup at the end of March.

“I don’t think three rides before the World Cup if I make it is too much,” she laughed.

The result placed the pair second behind Steffen Peters of San Diego, California on Legolas to earn one of the two spots reserved for the North American League at the annual championship that this year will be in Las Vegas in mid-April.

Laura Graves on Verdades in their first Grand Prix level victory. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Laura Graves on Verdades in their first Grand Prix level victory. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Results:

Grand Prix Freestyle
E: Leyman – BEL H: Nivelle – GER C: Zang – USA M: Clarke – GBR B: Schwennesen – AUS
Rider Ctzn Horse E Rk. H Rk. C Rk. M Rk. B Rk. T Pl.
Graves, Laura USA Verdades 81.500 1 78.125 1 76.875 1 78.250 1 79.625 1 78.875 1
Wilcox, Lisa USA Pikko del Cerro HU 78.500 2 75.625 2 75.375 2 75.750 4 76.375 3 76.325 2
Francis, Shelly USA Doktor 76.375 3 74.750 4 74.750 4 76.875 2 77.000 2 75.950 3
Petersen, Lars DEN Mariett 75.625 4 74.875 3 73.500 5 76.750 3 75.375 3 75.225 4
Vilhelmson-Silfven, Tinne SWE Benetton Dream 74.375 5 72.625 8 73.250 6 75.625 5 72.125 10 73.600 5
Jorst, Charlotte USA Kastels Nintendo 70.750 10 73.500 6 75.125 3 72.875 9 72.250 8 72.900 6
Holzer, Ashley CAN Dressed In Black 69.375 12 73.375 7 70.375 8 75.375 6 73.250 5 72.350 7
Koschel, Christoph GER Tiesto 73.125 6 72.375 9 70.375 8 73.625 7 72.250 8 72.350 7
Layne, Kelly AUS Udon P 70.250 11 74.125 5 70.375 8 73.625 8 72.375 6 72.150 9
Haddad-Staller, Catherine USA Mane Stream Hotmail 72.750 7 70.625 10 70.625 7 72.875 10 70.625 12 71.500 10
Matute Jr, Juan ESP Don Diego Ymas 72.625 8 70.500 11 69.125 12 71.125 13 70.000 13 70.675 11
Kane, Devon USA Destiny 68.625 13 70.375 12 70.375 8 72.875 10 70.875 11 70.625 12
Brooks, Jacqueline M. CAN D Niro 71.000 9 70.125 13 69.125 12 71.875 12 67.000 14 69.825 13
Creech, Diane CAN Devon L 64.750 14 66.375 15 65.000 14 65.875 14 72.375 6 66.875 14
Gugler, Sylvia USA Baudolino 64.750 14 66.500 14 62.750 15 63.875 15 65.500 15 64.675 15