Wellington CDI5* Grand Prix, Laura Graves & Verdades Win One for Freestyle, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz Takes Other for Special
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 8, 2018–Laura Graves and Verdades, the world’s No. 4 combination, came within a whisker of scoring 80 per cent for the second show this year in winning the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI5* Grand Prix for the Freestyle.
Fellow United States team partnership of Olivia LaGoy-Weltz on Lonoir won the CDI5* Grand Prix to qualify for the Special in their first international level performance in six months.
In near summer temperatures of about 85F/29.4C and high humidity, Laura and the 16-year-old KWPN gelding scored 79.543 per cent.
OLivia and Lonoir, a 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, scored 71.957 per cent in their first international competition since competing on two American Nations Cup teams in Europe last summer.
The winners of both 5* Grand Prix train with Debbie McDonald.
Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén, the seven-time Olympian for Sweden, on Paridon Magi that competing in Wellington has likely clinched her a start at the World Cup Finals in Paris in April, placed second behind Laura on a score of 73.500 per cent.
Ashley Holzer, the former multiple Olympian for Canada who now rides for the United States, was third on 70.913 per cent.
In the Grand Prix for the Special, the 20-year-old Juan Matute Jr., based in Wellington but who rides for Spain for whom his father was a three-time Olympian, rode Quantico Ymas to place second on 70.804 per cent.
Juan, who has begun online college courses, declared his goal to ride on the Spanish team at the Tryon would championships. He and Quantico swept the Under-25 competition held in conjunction with the European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden last August and took the individual bronze medal at the European Under-25 Championships in Austria but missed out on competing in the freestyle because of problems that led to the musical performance being canceled.
Canada’s Brittany Fraser on All In, her 2015 Pan American Games team silver medal mount, was third on 70.761 per cent.
Laura of Geneva, Florida and Verdades that she has brought up from a foal to partner her to the top level of the sport, not only made no excuses for the weather but looked on it as a positive to provide experience for riding at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina in September where temperatures may be similar.
Laura also indicated she may not apply for a bye but go to Europe with the squad of up to eight combinations hoping to qualify to make the team of four horses and riders and a reserve for the WEG to take advantage of competing head-to-head with the top Europeans.
She has already garnered the first of two scores she needs to earn a start at the World Cup Final in Paris in April where she wants to challenge defending champion Isabell Werth on Weihegold OLD. Laura and Verdades were runner-up to the German superstar in Omaha last April but became the only duo to beat the pair since the 2016 Olympics when they won the Grand Prix Special at Aachen, Germany last summer.