Chris von Martels & Divertimento Claim 1st Victory With Personal Best Score in Inaugural Tryon CDI3* Grand Prix Special
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
MILL SPRING, North Carolina, April 23, 2016–Chris von Martels, newly anointed Canadian Equestrian Athlete of 2015, claimed his first victory on Divertimento Saturday winning the inaugural Tryon CDI3* Grand Prix Special with a personal best score.
The score of 70.490 per cent for Chris and the 14-year-old Westfalen mare that led a Canadian sweep of the top four places surpassed their previous best of 70.314 per cent set at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington at the beginning of April.
“From the way he felt in the ride,” Chris said, “it was his best test so far. The horse has tremendous quality and ability. Tinne (Vilhelmson–Silfvén, the former rider) has proven that many times with top results. With a bit more time and a bit more training the two of us can better our points significantly.”
Karen Pavicic on Don Daiquiri, that competed for Canada at the 2014 World Games in Normandy, placed second on 69.745 per cent that was enough to give the pair a slight edge over Chris and Divertimento in the Canadian rankings to determine the two combinations to start at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August. Belinda Trussell on Anton has a clear lead with a little over two months of qualifying to go.
Megan Lane on Caravella was third on 69.218 per cent, as they were in the Grand Prix.
Ashley Holzer on Dressed in Black made it an all Canadian victory parade at this first international dressage competition here by taking the Grand Prix Freestyle on a score of 71.502 per cent a day after capturing the Grand Prix in the pair’s first CDI in more than a year.
Lindsay Kellock and Royal Prinz logged their first CDI victory in winning the Intermediate I, a day after the Canadian rider celebrated her 26th birthday.
Lindsay, the only Canadian among the six starting combinations, and the 15-year-old Oldenburg stallion scored 67.684 per cent.
The selection of Chris as the Equine Canada Athlete of 2015 was a result of his team silver and individual bronze medals on Zilverstar at Small Tour at last year’s Pan American Games.
Divertimento became his prospect as an Olympic mount at the start of the year through an agreement with the owner, Antonia Ax:son Johnson and her Lövsta Stuteri and the former rider Sweden’s six-time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson–Silfvén who trained and competed the horse at Big Tour from late 2011 through mid-2015.
Chris said he expressed an interest Divertimento in early 2015 but Tinne was still competing the horse as well as her Swedish team mount, Don Auriello. Last fall, however, Tinne asked Chris if he was still interested and an agreement was reached for him to compete the horse for Canada.
“They have been very supportive,” Chris said. “I couldn’t ask for them to be any more supportive and generous and truly wanting it to be successful. It’s very nice to see both a rider and an owner interested in the betterment of the sport globally and not only for their own nation. It’s truly amazing. That we share the same vision and goals makes it a lot of fun.”
Chris plans to compete in Ottawa May 19-22 before heading to Europe to train with his long time coach, Sjef Janssen. He hopes to compete at Rotterdam, one of the top shows in Europe and two weeks before Canada’s July 4 Olympic qualifying deadline.
“I feel the best environment to prepare for the Olympics if I am selected is to be in Europe, in a world class environment amongst the best of the best. I’m a firm believer you need to put yourself in that environment if you want to play with big boys.”