Canada’s Chris Von Martels Secures New Mounts for 2016

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Chris von Martels and Diverrtimento ridden by Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén. Photos: © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Chris von Martels and Divertimento ridden by Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén. Photos: © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 12, 2016–Chris von Martels, Canada’s Pan American Games team silver and individual bronze medalist, has secured two new mounts that he plans to campaign this year.

Chris will compete Divertimento, a 14-year-old Westfalen gelding (Di Versace x Ferragamo) that was a Swedish Nations Cup team horse, in a national Grand Prix at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington for the first time this Saturday.

The 33-year-old rider competed Belissimo, owned by a U.S.-based Canadian, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, at Intermediate II at a national show at the Global grounds last weekend for a score of 72.237 per cent.

Zilverstar, the 12-year-old KWPN gelding that he rode at Small Tour for the pair’s two Pan Am medals last summer, is being prepared for his Grand Prix debut later this year.

When asked about his goals with these horses for the year, he told dressage-news.com: “Of course, the Olympics are a dream, but we will take it one show at a time and see what happens.”

Chris is based in Wellington and trains with United States-based Ashley Holzer who rode for Canada at four Olympics, winning team bronze in 1988 and competed at the 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Game. In summer, he works with former Dutch team coach Sjef Janssen in the Netherlands.

Since 2008, he has competed the horses Hesperos and Naomi at international Grand Prix in Canada and the United States as well as Small Tour mounts at CDIs.

Chris Von Martels on Zilverstar at the Pan American Games. The pair won team silver and individual bronze. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Chris Von Martels on Zilverstar at the Pan American Games. The pair won team silver and individual bronze. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The United States won the single Olympic team spot available at the Pan Ams.

Belinda Trussell on Anton won an individual Olympic start for Canada and the country is virtually guaranteed a second individual spot through the North American geographic group.

However, a third spot that would be needed to field a team would have to be one of only six starting places available from world rankings for which there is fierce rivalry.

Seven Olympic qualifiers at the Global Dressage Festival until the Mar. 6 qualifying deadline provide the best opportunity for individual horse and rider combinations to attain the best four scores that will count.

“Divert,” as Divertimento is nicknamed, has been trained and competed by six-time Swedish Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén on both sides of the Atlantic for the past five years. The horse is owned by Lövsta Stuteri, the Swedish stable for Antonia Ax:son Johnson, the multibillionaire head of a trans-Atlantic conglomerate and major financial supporter of dressage in her homeland of Sweden and the United States, her birthplace.

Tinne started Divertimento at Grand Prix in Poland in 2011 and then moved to Florida for winter which she has done for six years.

In their Grand Prix partnership, Tinne and Divertimento have logged 40 CDI starts, including 13 victories, in Florida and Europe. The current world ranking for the pair is No. 59 and their highest Grand Prix score was 75.000 per cent.

Belissimo (Bernstein x Solos Carxex) was competed by the Wellington-based Swedish rider Karin Persson at Intermediate I at U.S. national shows. The horse is owned by Deborah Mullaney, a citizen of both Canada and the United States who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and operated a successful business for several years.

Tinne plans to compete Don Auriello, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding, for Sweden at Rio. The 48-year-old rider competed Don Auriello at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The pair were also on Sweden’s team at the 2014 World Games as well as the 2013 and 2015 European Championships.