Mikala Gundersen & My Lady Win Devon World Cup Grand Prix In Another Step on Road to Rio Olympics
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Oct. 3, 2015–
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Mikala Gundersen rode My Lady to their third straight victory in capturing the World Cup Grand Prix at Devon, Pennsylvania Saturday night and took another step toward earning a start for Denmark at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next summer.
The score of 72.241 per cent for Mikala and the 15-year-old Danish Warmblood mare came the same week the pair were ranked fourth in the latest International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Olympic individual standings.
Belinda Trussell on Anton, that competed for Canada at the 2010 World Games and this year’s Pan American Games, placed second on 70.560 per cent with the American Olympian Lisa Wilcox on Galant third on 70.060 per cent. At the Pan Ams, Belinda and Anton clinched an individual spot for Canada in Rio but the nation needs to qualify two more combinations to be able to field a team at the Olympics.
Cold and rainy weather caused major changes in the show schedule that moved the Grand Prix to Saturday night in place of the Freestyle that usually draws large crowds. Only a few spectators were on hand to watch the 16 combinations from five countries in the Grand Prix.
Mikala, 47 years old and the mother of two has been based in Wellington, Florida since moving more than a decade ago with her jumper rider husband who built a nationwide horse treadmill business,
My Lady was bought in late 2011 by Janne Rumbough, a Danish transplant, passionate amateur dressage rider and longtime resident of Palm Beach.
Since then, the pair have competed extensively on both sides of the Atlantic including the 2014 World Games in Normandy and this year’s European Championships in Aachen, Germany on the Danish team, as well as two World Cup Finals.
However, when Denmark was not among the 10 nations to directly book a team ticket to Rio, she and other Danish combinations were told by team manger, Kimi G. Nielsen: “Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and go out and get some individual qualifications.”
That means qualifying at least three individual horses and riders to form a so-called “composite” team. Riders have until March 6 to rank high enough with their four best results from the year-long qualifying process for 12 remaining individual places.
“We all believe it’s possible and being competitive as we are, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make this qualification happen, ” Mikala told dressage-news.com. “This was the sole reason for me to travel up north to do the two CDI-Ws in Saugerties and Devon.
“My Lady is going better than ever at the moment.
“All summer in Europe we have worked on strength and conditioning and I feel that I brought back an even stronger and fitter horse than I had last winter season in Florida.
After this road trip, Mikala said, My Lady will have a break before competing in two or three shows at Global before the Mar. 6 Olympic qualification deadline.
If Denmark qualifies, her next goal is to be on that team.
The year has been long with 11 CDIs but, she said, “it’s been a fantastic year with lots of great shows. My Lady loves to show and she always does her best in the ring so I don’t feel it has been hard on her at all. It’s different from horse to horse but My Lady has so much energy and I feel that going to shows makes her happy.”
The past three years of Mikala and My Lady campaigning for Denmark have been at high cost, as the Danish federation pays only entry fees for Nations Cups unlike the United States that covers most of the costs of several combinations competing in Europe.
Prize money earned at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, among the highest in the world, has been a big help–more than $42,000 in 2014 and $60,000 this year.
“All the prize money she wins goes right back to paying for Lady,” Mikala said.
“Janne is a big supporter on top of that as the winnings alone pretty much only pay the cost of keeping her in Florida nine months of the year. Without Janne’s support there’s no way I could go to Europe to train and show. The cost of three months in Europe is about the same as nine months in Florida when you include shipping, training, board, housing, etc.”
Leah Wilson and Fabian JS won the Grand Prix Special on 69.608 per cent with fellow Canadians Jill Irving on Degas second on 67.000 per cent and Christilot Boylen on Drentano third on 64.314 per cent.
This was the first international Grand Prix for Leah and Fabian, a 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding, since launching their Big Tour career at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida last winter.
Leah on Westside Lady won Freestyle silver medal at the 2007 North American Young Rider Championships.