Laura Graves & Verdades Post Personal Best to Win Wellington World Cup Grand Prix
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar.12, 2015–In only their second show since a break of six months after success as the top Americas at the World Games last summer, Laura Grves and Verdades won the Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix Thursday with a personal best score of 76.680 per cent.
A Grand Prix that began hot and humid in early afternoon, was halted briefly by a sudden driving rainstorm and ended more than six hours and 36 rides later under lights in a balmy Florida night, was the last of four World Cup events at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in a calendar of seven CDIs with more than $650,000 in prize money.
The ride that silenced the partygoing crowd punctuated only by gasps of appreciation and Laura described as “still leaving five or 10 percentage points in the warmup,” surpassed their previous high Grand Prix result of 74.871 per cent posted at the world championships in Normandy last August.
Lars Petersen, the Florida-based Olympic, World Games and World Cup star for Denmark who has dominated Florida’s World Cup circuit for the past two years with the mare Mariett now 17 years old was second on 72.500 per cent. Sweden’s six-time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén on Benetton Dream was third on 70.760 per cent.
The Freestyle will be Friday night under lights and will be the second last World Cup qualifier for the two places reserved for North Americans at the Final in Las Vegas a month from now. The last event will be in San Juan Capistrano, California next week where Steffen Peters on Legolas is the frontrunner and could qualify with Laura and Verdades to compete for the annual world championship title that Steffen won on Ravel the last time it was in Las Vegas in 2009.
The performance by the 13-year-old KWPN gelding was described by Laura, aged 27 and based in Geneva, Florida, three hours north of Wellington as “much better for us than it was last week” when the pair returned to the show ring for the first time since the World Games and “felt like rookies all over again.”
“Tonight,” Laura said, “I feel like I’m heading in the direction I thought we were.”
The pair have been named to one of the two United States teams for the Nations Cup at the end of March and, Laura said, “hopefully the Grand Prix will feel even tighter.”
After last week’s competition, Laura said she went back to her Orlando area base, put Verdades in a snaffle bridle and focused on what she thought was the best they could do.
“Sometimes you forget to ride the way you should when you’re taking too much advice,” she said.
Lars Petersen pointed out that Mariett has performed in a lot of shows during the Globa circuit and will get a vacation after Friday night’s Freestyle.
Lars and Mariett, owned by Marcia Pepper, may, however, receive an invitation to the World Cup under changes in the rules that came into effect this year to give combinations based outside their home leagues a chance to compete in the Final. Lars is from Denmark which is within the Western European League.
Tinne, who pioneered a presence by top Europeans in Florida, said she was “extremely happy” with the fourth international Grand Prix by Benetton Dream. “I couldn’t ask for anything more,” she said, “he fights for me.”
Tinne, who returns to Sweden next week to prepare for the European Championships, also experienced the longest Grand Prix of her ife.
She rode her second horse, Divertimento, into the arena for the start of her competition but a sudden driving rain storm forced the judges and their scribes that were open to the weather to call a short halt.
Tinne and Divertimento rode around the arena before the officials could re-start the class.