Laura Graves & Verdades Back In Competition After 6-Month Break Win Wellington World Cup Grand Prix
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 25, 2018–Laura Graves and Verdades, the world’s No. 4 partnership, returned to competition for the first time in six months to win the Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix Thursday.
The score for Laura and her U.S. Olympic team bronze medal 16-year-old KWPN gelding was 79.630 per cent that but for a little error at the end of the ride would likely have been at least 80 per cent.
With her sights on the World Cup Final in Paris in April and the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina in September, the 30-year-old Laura of Geneva, Florida and the horse she has owned since a foal rode an almost error-free Grand Prix at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
The pair had not shown since the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany last July where she led the United States team to Nations Cup silver medal behind Germany and also became the only combination to beat world No. 1 Isabell Werth on Weihegold OLD since the 2016 Olympics which they did in the Grand Prix Special.
“I was super pleased with my horse,” Laura said, and after five years of international Grand Prix with Verdades, or “Diddy,” as she calls him, she decided to try some new things at the start of the season instead of the end.
“I decided to close him up a little at the end,” she said, “but nothing happened. I poke him with my spur, and… well, wish I hadn’t done that.”
Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén, Sweden’s seven-time Olympian, rode Paridon Magi to a score of 75.087 per cent for second place in their campaign for a trip to the Paris Final.
Shelly Francis of neighboring Loxahatchee and Danil were third on 73.870 per cent. In addition to World Cup Final hopes, she wants to qualify both Danilo and Doktor for the American squad to go to Europe for the summer ahead of the World Games in Tryon.
Debbie McDonald enjoyed double success Thursday–she coaches both Laura and Verdades as well as Adrienne Lyle and Salvino that won the CDI3* Grand Prix.
Laura said she is”totally addicted” to the World Cup–“it’s like taking your horse to the disco.”
But as much as she wants to go to Paris for the Final, she will pass up the World Cup if necessary to make the team for the World Games at home.
Laura and Verdades were the reserve champion to Isabell and Weihegold at the Omaha World Cup a year ago.
U.S. selectors have the option to excuse horses and riders from a European selection tour, and many riders support a bye for Laura and Verdades to give the pair a break after the intense Global winter circuit and prospective World Cup appearance.