Canada’s Belinda Trussell & Anton Win Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 28, 2016–Belinda Trussell who rode her two-time World Games team mount to qualify as an individual at the 2015 Pan American Games, won the Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix Thursday, an event that was saved from two days of torrential downpours by a covered arena but not from widespread criticism of the judging.
The ride by Belinda on the 16-year-old Sachs gelding that scored 72.860 per cent was what she described as perhaps the most harmonious ever in almost seven years of a Grand Prix career that has taken the pair to both the 2010 World Games in Lexington and the 2014 Games in Normandy with a total of 72 Big Tour starts on both sides of the Atlantic.
“He’s a hot horse and the things that sometimes happened when we were learning the Grand Prix don’t happen now,” she said, “he knows so much we can make small changes to improve with no problems.”
Arlene “Tuny” Page of Wellington, a 2006 World Cup Final competitor, was just 0.1 behind on Woodstock for second place on 72.760 per cent, the best score for the pair in 18 months of Grand Prix in Europe and the U.S.
The result boosted the pair’s chances of being selected for a squad of eight combinations to go to Europe in the spring for selection of the American team of four horses and riders for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Kasey Perry-Glass, the 28-year-old who moved to Wellington from California to immerse herself in her dressage career, waited through 40 rides over two days to capture third place on 72.320 per cent. She was the ninth to go on the first day of the Grand Prix that was washed out of the outdoor international arena and went to the adjacent Van Kampen arena, big enough to easily hold the competition and warmup arenas with plenty of room for spectators.
This was the first CDI Grand Prix for Kasey and Dublet whom she competed at Small Tour in Wellington and in Europe in 2015. She also placed 11th on the 17-year-old mare Trøstruplund’s Scarlet with a score of 70.120 per cent.
The performance of Laura Graves of Plymouth, Florida and Verdades was marked by several expensive mistakes that saw the pair receive a score of 71.620 per cent for seventh place.
The score was the lowest for Laura and the 14-year-old KWPN gelding since two years ago at the Global Dressage Festival and before going on an upward trajectory that took them to the World Games in Normandy, the World Cup Final in Las Vegas last April and the team gold and individual silver medals at the Pan Ams last summer. Laura and Verdades ended 2015 as the U.S. Grand Prix Champion.
The biggest complaints about the judging came from scores awarded by Christoph Hess of Germany at E and Canadian Lee Tubman directly across the arena at B. For Kasey and Dublet their scores were 77.200 per cent and 68.700 per cent, respectively.
For Belinda and Anton, the scores from the same two were 75.200 per cent and 70.000 per cent, respectively.
Cesar Torrente of Colombia, the judge at C pointed out that throughout most of the competition the three jury members on the short side–H, C and M–were close together.
It was, he said, a long class with many horses and while “we always like to have very similar results” he used the frequently heard response to complaints, “judges sitting at different angles see different things.”
On the line for many of the competitors from 14 countries, were Olympic hopes and dreams–Americans and Australians seeking to get on their team that are among 10 nations already qualified for Rio, Canadians and Danes trying to boost the rankings of individual riders to give their countries a hope of putting together a team and individuals from different geographic groups and the world rankings.
Belinda, the mother of two, already qualified Canada for the sole individual spot assigned from the Pan American Games in Toronto and is now riding Anton to earn selection to go to Rio. Canada will most likely get a second individual slot through the North American group but competition is fierce for six individual places based on open world rankings from countries that have not yet qualified a team.
Canada’s strategy about the Olympics has raised questions over the past year as only one team slot was available at the Pan Ams and, as expected, went to the United States. As the highest scoring rider in the group for which one individual slot was also available, that was won by Belinda and Anton. Canada will almost definitely earn a second individual start through their geographic group standing.
But because of the Pan Am results, Belinda cannot qualify Anton through the open world rankings where she has the best shot for Canada as the highest scoring combination for that country currently so the chance of the nation being able to put together a minimum of three individuals for a team is slim.
Belinda was asked about the issue by dressage-news.com after Thursday’s Grand Prix victory.
Volker Moritz, Canada’s Technical Advisor, she said, “asked me 10 months ago whether I would consider not competing in the Pan Ams so as to increase our chances of getting another placing.”
Belinda was torn, still fresh in her mind was that Anton had finally fully recovered from a bone lesion in 2011 that was feared to be career ending for the horse and kept them out of the show ring for 2 1/2 years, anyway.
“You just never know when the next ride might be your last,” said the 44-year-old rider.
“I had never done a Pan American Games, I’d never ridden in my home town before my family and my friends in a major championships and might never get the chance to do so again.”
In her lifetime there have been only three major equestrian Games in Canada–the Olympics in Montreal in 1976, the world championships in Toronto in 1986 and the Pan Ams last year. By the time of the World Games in 2018, Anton will be 18 years old.
“I thought of all the factors, the strategy for Canada on the one hand and on the other that I have two kids I could ride in front of in their home town.
“The Pan Ams was something I wanted to do from my heart.”