Belinda Trussell & Anton Make It 2 for 2 for Canada in Caputring Florida World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 29, 2016–Belinda Trussell was “really riding a rocket” on Anton to win the Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle Friday night, a day after claiming the Grand Prix. The USA’s Laura Graves on Verdades again performed with costly mistakes that put the U.S. Grand Prix champion pair in sixth place.
The partnership of Belinda and Anton that was almost ended by a 2 1/2-year absence from competition with a career-threatening injury to the horse, scored 75.025 per cent and the first Grand Prix-Grand Prix Freestyle double victory in six years, the other occasion at this same Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
America’s Allison Brock on Rosevelt placed second on 73.900 per cent, their second best Freestyle result, while Shelly Francis on Doktor was third on 73.400 per cent.
Despite the sub-par performance of Laura Graves and Verdades, their score of 72.000 per cent for sixth place was enough to make the pair the top United States or Canadian combination in the Wold Cup North American League. The average of two scores accumulated by the pair–both this month–was 75.125.
Belinda and Anton are in second place with an average after Friday’s Freestyle of 74.412 while Lisa Wilcox on Galant had an average of 74.325. Mikala Gundersen on My Lady, based in Florida but with Danish citizenship, is atop the NAL standings with an average of 78.887 but the duo are considered Western Europeans and cannot take the place of a North American combination.
However, Steffen Peters has one score with Legolas of 81.325 per cent and the pair is competing in a World Cup event in California this weekend.
Two scores are required in the NAL with the highest averages earning one of the two places assigned to North America at the Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in late March.
The Freestyle drew a full crowd to the outdoor international arena at the Stadium complex despite chilly weather for South Florida and after two days of torrential rain that had forced the Grand Prix under cover of the Van Kampen arena that enabled the organizers to keep the show going despite 50 horses in the Big Tour and 20 in the Small Tour.
Belinda said after Friday night’s Freestyle that the 16-year-old Sachs gelding “was really hot tonight and I was hoping to keep everything in control and keep our harmony together. He was great. It really felt like I was riding a rocket. He’s such a good boy, and he loves his job.
“I’m so thrilled for these two wins and am sitting here in utter shock to be sitting in this company. It’s wonderful to be here, and I’m so thankful to my owners and my family at home.”
Belinda, the mother of two who earned an individual start for Canada through the results on Anton at the Pan American Games last summer, said she is aiming the horse for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
The pair have already competed for Canada at two World Games, in 2010 at Kentucky and 2014 in Normandy. But between those two championships, Anton sustained a bone lesion that veterinarians gave him only a 50-50 chance of recovering to competition form. During his down time in a paddock, Belinda said, he became depressed because he was not being worked.
As a result of the injury, the pair did not make it to the London Games in 2012. However, Belinda rode Royan in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“I enjoy each ride,” she said. “I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I want to enjoy each moment. I thought about that tonight… in this stadium.”
Ali Brock competed Rosevelt at Grand Prix in Europe last year but credited the stallion’s ability to cope with the night time show to her experience at an exhibition the pair gave at Washington International last fall, an indoor event of dozens of ponies, hunters and jumpers.
“It basically desensitized me to where I feel I can do anything,” she said.
Laura Graves and Verdades, a star of American dressage at the 2014 World Games, the 2015 World Cup Final and last summer’s Pan American Games, was awarded a score of 72.000 per cent, the lowest result for a Grand Prix musical ride since their first Big Tour Freestyle two years ago. The pair had a similar result in the Grand Prix Thursday.
Verdades, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding that Laura has raised from a foal, resisted in passage-piaffe transitions during Friday night’s performance. However, there were many moments where the horse showed the brilliance that has made the pair No. 15 in the world and some believe a contender for a medal in Olympics and championships.