Laura Graves & Verdades Win Wellington Grand Prix Freestyle, Kasey Perry-Glass & Dublet 2nd to Earn World Cup Final Start
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar 1, 2019–Laura Graves and Verdades clinched a start at the World Cup Final a month away by winning the Adequan Global Dressage Festival Grand Prix Freestyle Friday night to give the No. 2 combination in the world a third chance to challenge Germany’s Isabell Werth for the championship. Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet placed second to their highest ever score in Wellington to also get an invite to Gothenburg.
Laura and the 17-year-old KWPN gelding scored 84.535 per cent to wrap up an unbeaten run of three qualifying competitions–one more than in previous years in North America–and go to Sweden with an average of 84.230 for their musical performances.
The result for Laura and the horse she has partnered since he was bought from a video from the Netherlands as a foal to be currently No. 2 in the world was earned despite a mistake in the ome-tempi changes in the freestyle highlighted by Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” that she prepared for the World Equestrian Games that did not see a freestyle because of weather.
Olympic and World Games team mate Kasey and Dublet scored 83.875 per cent, their second highest ever score, for runner-up but felt so lucky to have the 16-year-old Danish Warmblood to ride that she left the arena in tears.
Adrienne Lyle on Salvino, a third team mate from the Tryon World Games, placed third on 80.160 per cent, the second hghest score for the pair and expected to be enough to insure their invitation to Gothenburg to join Laura on Verdades and Kasey on Dublet based on the world rankings.
And it also put all three top placegetters above 80 per cent.
Remarkably, all three riders are coached by Debbie McDonald, the official U.S. team coach but who has been personally working with Laura, Kasey and Adrienne for years. Debbie was the first American ever to win a World Cup Final, which she did on Brentina in 2003 at the same Gothenburg arena where the final will be held April 3-7.
And the sponsor of the Grand Prix Freestyle was Havensafe Farm owned by Eizabeth “Betsy” Juliano who owns Salvino and is a financial supporter of Laura Graves who lives in Geneva, an Orlando area community 175 miles/200km north of Wellington.
Laura, 31, who on Verdades has beaten Isabell and Weihegold twice in seven head-to-head competitions, more than any other combination in the world since the 2016 Olympics, said she had met earlier Friday with David Stickland, the score analysis guru who is also a consultant to the U.S. federation. As a result, she said, she tested some changes to her freestyle that caused some “minor glitches” Friday night but she hoped would pay off in Sweden next month.
“I feel totally prepared,” said Laura of going to Gothenburg for what is likely to be the third straight final in that Isabell on Weihegold intend to win.
The competition before a crowd estimated at about 4,000 spectators on a balmy semi-tropical mid-winter night in Florida was the last freestyle at Global before the World Cup Final.
“I think it’s always an unrealistic expectation to judge yourself solely based on what we do here at Global. You’re so much more prepared, always, when we go on that international stage in other countries. And we feel so at home here, and we make ourselves such at home here… and we’re lucky to do that. But we’re so comfortable sometimes that we feel unprepared.”
Verdades has “made it very, very clear” that with Laura he is neck and neck with Weihegold and Isabell in the Grand Prix.
“In more than one instance,” she said, “my horse has bettered her mare. I think she is so prepared and so precise with her freestyle. That’s where I’ve been lacking in my homework. Over the next couple weeks, I know I have my bases covered with my training, I was so grateful that USEF brought in David for us and to sit down and have this advantage to go over.
“Don’t put that in your story, because if Isabell reads it and knows what we’re doing she’s going to do the same thing! If I know her at all…”
Kasey said she was not expecting Dublet to have the energy he displayed going into the arena.
“Coming off of a show last week I thought he was going to be a little more tired, but he was actually more lit than I’ve felt him in a while, so we had little bucks and switches,” she said. “It’s a good thing for him. Debbie the whole time in my warm-up was just like, ‘Tell him he’s beautiful to calm him down a little bit.’
“It was an amazing test. I came out crying. It was one of those tests that just gave me goosebumps and made me feel lucky to have my horse.”
Like Laura, Kasay said, she will go back and work on issues pointed out in David Stickland’s computer analysis that can be improved for the Final… “he has an amazing extended walk and I’ve just gotten a little lazy on that. It’s really going back and figuring that kind of stuff out.”
Adrienne said that both she and Salvino were surprised by his coming out “pretty lit” to compete.
“I figured it was a hot week,” she said, “and they’d be tired tonight but they came out on fire. So that was a little different strategy for me to deal with in the warm-up, but what I was happy with is that he really just pulled it all together when we went down the centerline.”
This was only their second time riding this freestyle, Adrienne said, “so I don’t think I’ll be changing much in it. I’m just going to try and get a little more familiar with it. Salvino is a little greener to this, so just trying to improve the training to make it more comfortable him and to learn the pattern, to feel really at home in his own skin out there.”
|World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle|
|Judges:||Henning Lehrmann-GER||Evi Eisenhardt-GER||Irina Maknami-RUS||Christof Umbach-LUX||Susan Hoevenaars-AUS|
|1.||84.535||USA||Laura Graves||Verdades – 576||84.350||82.825||85.775||85.825||83.900||83.307 (1)|
|2.||83.875||USA||Kasey Perry-Glass||Goerklintgaards Dublet – 529||84.500||83.250||85.500||83.750||82.375||79.104 (3)|
|3.||80.160||USA||Adrienne Lyle||Salvino – 585||80.675||78.975||79.600||80.425||81.125||79.471 (2)|
|4.||78.965||USA||Shelly Francis||Danilo – 589||81.000||77.550||79.050||79.075||78.150||77.829 (4)|
|5.||76.970||DOM||Yvonne Losos De Muniz||Aquamarijn – 514||75.875||77.150||77.275||77.900||76.650||75.571 (5)|
|6.||74.655||USA||P.J. Rizvi||Breaking Dawn – 508||73.975||76.800||75.650||73.900||72.950||73.785 (6)|
|7.||72.660||CAN||Lindsay Kellock||Sebastien – 540||72.350||71.625||70.950||73.600||74.775||71.788 (7)|
|8.||69.025||USA||Jessica Jo Tate||Faberge – 605||68.225||69.275||69.000||69.625||69.000||67.000 (11)|
|9.||68.780||USA||Karen Lipp||Whitney – 601||67.575||68.675||70.850||66.400||70.400||68.700 (9)|
|10.||66.945||CAN||Evi Strasser||Disney Tyme – 547||66.600||67.125||67.075||68.275||65.650||70.556 (8)|
|11.||66.050||USA||Jane Karol||Sunshine Tour – 600||65.475||66.050||66.525||65.625||66.575||68.030 (10)|
|12.||65.960||CAN||Jacqueline Brooks||Westwood 5 – 509||64.175||65.075||66.750||67.175||66.625||66.664 (12)|
|13.||65.830||USA||Jacqueline MacDonald Cuddy||Malcarat – 505||65.850||65.975||67.050||66.025||64.250||65.349 (13)|