Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén & Don Auriello 1st, Laura Graves & Verdades 2nd in Inaugural 2016 Global World Cup Grand Prix
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan, 14, 2016–Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén rode Don Auriello to victory in the Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix, the first Big Tour competition since the European Championships six months ago and preparing for the rider’s seventh Olympic Games for Sweden.
Tinne and the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding scored 76.900 per cent for the victory over a field of 37 combinations that started the Global lineup of seven CDIs with a total of almost $700,000 in prize money through the end of March.
Laura Graves on Verdades, who captured her first U.S. Grand Prix championship in this same stadium a month ago, placed second on 75.540 per cent, a result that made the 28-year-old rider “really excited” as she prepares the KWPN gelding for the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden at the end of March and then the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Canada’s Leah Wilson-Wilkins on Fabian JS “flabbergasted” herself by placing third on 71.700 per cent, the first time the pair have scored 70 per cent in only their fifth show since starting international Big Tour in September, 2014. (see separate story)
The Grand Prix was also marked by the number of past and prospective championship riders from Australia, Philippines, Europe and through North and South America seeking to qualify directly to the Olympics or to make their nation’s teams.
Florida-based Danish riders Lars Petersen on Mariett and Mikala Gundersen on My Lady placed fourth on 71.520 per cent and seventh on 70.340 per cent, respectively, as they seek to help their compatriots in Europe by qualifying for individual places at the Olympics so as to be able to field a “composite” team of at least three combinations.
Juan Matute, Jr. on Don Diego Ymas was awarded a personal best Grand Prix score of 70.540 per cent for fifth place that the Spanish federation has made clear it will not count and neither will any other results in Wellington toward the 18-year-old rider’s goal endeavoring to earn a place on Spain’s Olympic team. The organizers of the Global Dressage Festival said they would seek an explanation from the Spanish federation for the action which Sports Director Thomas Baur said showed “disrespect” for the predominantly European judges in Wellington. (see separate story).
Tinne began Don Auriello’s international Big Tour career in Palm Beach six years ago and the pair have returned each year since, though Don Auriello was not competed here last year. In those six years, Tinne and Don Auriello have competed for Sweden at the 2012 Olympics in London, the 2014 World Games in Normandy as well as the 2013 and 2015 European Championships where last year they led Sweden to earning a team spot at the Rio Games.
After the Europeans in Germany last summer, she said, Don Auriello was turned out in a big field for a break but “got too happy” and rolled under the gate. She skipped the Stockholm World Cup event to come to Florida to prepare for the rest of the year. If she qualifies for the World Cup Final in Gotenburg in her home country she will return home earlier than planned.
Laura said that despite mistakes that was rider errors in the Grand Prix she was “really excited” about the performance of the 14-year-old Verdades.
After warming up with coach Debbie McDonald, the leg wraps came off, Laura picked up the reins and Verdades “was on fire… ready to go,” a feeling she said was nice to know is in there.
The pair have “found second gear now,” she said, “hopefully in the next few weeks we will stay in top gear” as they seek to go to their second World Cup Final and, if successful, likely not have to make a European swing of seven or eight American combinations from which the Olympic team will be selected.