Laura Graves & Verdades Win Wellington World Cup Freestyle With Highest Score Ever at Global Dressage Festival
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 26, 2018–Laura Graves and Verdades logged the highest score ever at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival to win the World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle Friday night.
In the first musical performance in six month, Laura and the 16-year-old KWPN gelding scored 84.657 per cent, a result that was surpassed only by the scores the American pair were awarded at the World Cup Final in Omaha last April and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Sweden’s seven-time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén on Paridon Magi placed second on 79.050 per cent to earn enough points to give her a total of 53.5 and solidify her third place in the Western European League, likely to qualify for a start at the Paris Final in April.
Laura of Geneva, Florida and Verdades, reserve champion at the Omaha final and No. 4 in the world, needs to compete in another freestyle to qualify for the final and has two more events on the schedule at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center before the end of March.
Shelly Francis of Loxahatchee, Florida on Danilo placed third on 76.150 per cent, that is her second World Cup qualifying score and puts her at the top of the North American League. North America gets two places at the final of the World Cup, the annual global championship based on the freestyle.
The freestyle result for Laura came after Thursday’s Grand Prix victory that was the pair’s first competition since the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany last July. There, Laura and Verdades 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.
Coincidentally, Isabell and Weihegold, the world’s No. 1, are competing in Amsterdam this weekend in preparation to defend their World Cup title.
Because Verdades can be electric, Laura said she hand-walked the horse three times during the day to get used to wind and flapping flags and tents.
“He seemed to be quite settled in the arena,” said Laura after the ride in blustery winds and occasional showers.
“It’s always a relief to get the first one out of the way. I’m trying to qualify for the World Cup so I’m excited about both scores this weekend.”