Laura Graves & Verdades Debut “Coming to America” Freestyle to Win Wellington World Cup

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“Coming to America” debut performance by Laura Graves and Verdades at the World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle in Wellington. © 2019 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 11, 2019–Laura Graves and Verdades debuted the “Coming to America” Grand Prix Freestyle prepared for last year’s Tryon World Equestrian Games to win the inaugural Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup musical performance of 2019.

Laura, who a day earlier was named USA Equestrian of 2018, and the KWPN gelding that officially became 17 years old on Jan. 1, were awarded 83.220 per cent, all five judges marking the world No. 2 combination above 80 per cent.

The freestyle at this Global opening show was the first international event for Laura and “Diddy” since the Tryon World Games where the musical competition was cancelled because of bad weather and the first freestyle since the CDIO5* in Aachen, Germany six months ago.

Shelly Francis of neighboring Loxahatchee, Florida on Danilo was second on 79.280 per cent that moved her into second place in the North American League behind Laura and Verdades. She plans to keep trying to earn a start in Gothenburg.

Sweden’s seven-time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén on Don Auriello, who also is seeking to go to the final in her homeland, was third on 77.710 per cent.

Shelly Francis and Danilo in the Wellington World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle. © 2019 SusanJStickle.com

Laura of the Orlando community of Geneva, Florida, wants to go to her fourth World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April, shot to the top of the North American League which gets to send two combinations to the annual world championships. Shelly and Danilo are second in the standings with 79.280 per cent and Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, on Suppenkasper in third with a score of 77.800 per cent, attained at Del Mar last April.

North American qualification for the final requires three scores this year, one more than previously.

Laura, 31 years old, was runner-up to world No. 1 Isabell Werth of Germany and Weihegold OLD in both 2017 and 2018.

This was the first of four scheduled qualifiers for Wellington with three on the calendar at the West Coast Dressage Festival in Temecula, California for this year’s final.

Laura said she wasn’t sure what music to use and does not practice ahead of time but had worked on this freestyle with classic rock pieces of Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” that she wanted to perform for WEG with so many riders coming to the U.S. as well as music from the Eagles and Van Morrison.

“I crossed my fingers that it worked out and it did,” she said. “There were a couple of big mistakes tonight; I came out a little strong.”

Jill Irving of Canada on Arthur won the CDI3* Grand Prix Special with a score of 65.543 per cent with Michael Klimke of Germany on Royal Dancer second on 64.404 per cent and Bent Jensen of the U.S. on Chance third on 63.149 per cent.

Canada’s Jill Irving on Arthur celebrating victory at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. © 2019 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The start of the eighth year of the Global winter-long circuit of 12 weeks of dressage-including seven CDIs–also saw the introduction of paperless judging and final scores displayed on scoreboards before combinations leave the arena.

Results:

World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle

Judges:
Thomas Lang Raphael Saleh Hans-Christian Matthiesen Peter Storr Carlos Lopes
Final Ranking Score % Nation Athlete Horse E H C M B Spectator Judging
1. 83.220 USA Laura Graves Verdades – 523 80.800 84.225 83.650 82.450 84.975 83.476 (1)
2. 79.280 USA Shelly Francis Danilo – 509 77.350 80.450 79.825 81.325 77.450 80.970 (2)
3. 77.710 SWE Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén Don Auriello – 532 76.625 79.675 79.550 75.250 77.450 75.853 (3)
4. 75.370 CAN Brittany Fraser All In – 519 74.400 75.250 76.375 76.550 74.275 75.744 (4)
5. 64.650 USA Heather Boo Divertimento – 514 66.175 62.450 63.650 64.125 66.850 65.780 (5)

CDI3* Grand Prix Special

Judges:
Raphael Saleh Carlos Lopes Thomas Lang Debbie Rodriguez Hans-Christian Matthiesen
Final Ranking Score % Nation Athlete Horse E H C M B Spectator Judging
1. 65.532 CAN Jill Irving Arthur – 530 66.170 64.574 65.426 66.277 65.213 65.293 (2)
2. 64.404 GER Michael Klimke Royal Dancer – 537 63.936 63.723 66.277 64.681 63.404 66.079 (1)
3. 63.149 USA Bent Jensen Chance – 512 62.766 62.021 64.787 62.979 63.191 64.656 (3)
4. 57.894 GUA Alexandra Dominguez Beijing A – 533 58.936 56.915 55.851 58.511 59.255 60.710 (4)