Canada’s Leah Wilson Wilkins Rides “Late Bloomer” Fabian to Victory in Wellington World Cup Grand Prix Special
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WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 16, 2016–Leah Wilson Wilkins rode the 17-year-old “late bloomer” Fabian JS to victory in the World Cup Grand Prix Special at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival Saturday with a personal best score for the second straight competition in seeking to represent Canada at the summer Olympics.
Leah, seven months pregnant, and the Hanoverian (Feiner Graf x Denberg) scored 72.863 per cent two days after placing third in the Grand Prix on a personal best of 71.700 per cent.
In the Special, Denmark’s Olympic, World Games, European Championships and World Cup rider Lars Petersen rode the 18-year-old Mariett to second place on 72.098 per cent.
Beatrice Marineau, the German-born rider now a U.S. citizen, was third on Stefano 8 with a score of 70.176 per cent.
Fabian, Leah said after the ride at the Palm Beach International Center’s Stadium complex, “felt really amazing in some spots and in some spots there were a few little bobbles.”
Solid training with the British Commonwealth duo of Nicholas Fyffe of Australia and David Marcus of Canada over the past six months had paid off.
With this competition starting the qualifying period for Canadians seeking to fill individual places at Rio, Leah is the clear leader but she is expecting to deliver a baby boy in mid April that will take her out of competition for a while.
Since her success in the Grand Prix Thursday, life has “been a bit of a whirlwind, but it’s really exciting to be finally bringing out what the horse is really capable of. He’s a late bloomer.”
“I have certainly surpassed all my expectation,” Leah said. “I would have been happy with being in the top 10 in the Grand Prix and the top three in the Special.”
Lars Petersen, who expects this to be Mariett’s last year in competition, gave his primary goal to get good enough scores to help Denmark qualify at least three and as many as four individual combinations to be able to start a “composite” team in Rio.
The mare had an easy summer and the goal is to compete for Grand Prix scores until the Olympic qualifying cutoff date of Mar. 6.