Canada’s Belinda Trussell & Anton Post Highest Score to Date to Win Wellington CDI3* Grand Prix
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WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 18–Canada’s Belinda Trussell and Anton posted their highest ever score of 70.638 per cent to win the Wellington Dressage Classic CDI3* Grand Prix at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Thursday.
With the words “You’re not here to participate, you’re here to win,” from Canadian dressage coach Robert Dover, a six-time Olympian for the United States, Belinda and Anton beat Todd Flettrich and Otto of the United States who were second on 68.723 per cent and Lars Petersen and Beemer of Denmark in third on 68.383 per cent.
The show is the last of five CDIs on the competitive Florida winter circuit which this year have greater importance as horses and riders from several nations seek to qualify for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in September. For the United States, only CDIs count toward qualifying for the WEG selection trials and only four CDI competitions remain in the entire eastern half of the nation, including the WEG test event at Lexington the last week of April.
Anton, a Saxony gelding owned by Robyn Eames, started Grand Prix at nine years of age in 2009 and undertook a European development tour last fall.
“He is getting better and better,” Belinda said of Anton becoming more comfortable in the arena, a major step forward especially as it is her first venture into the intensive Florida circuit. She described Anton as “kind and quietly confident” who “likes to win.”
“My goal has been to get him to where he is more expressive, more engaged in the piaffe and passage so it is world class. It feels great. The original aim was the 2012 London Olympics, she said, but the horse has developed quickly that now WEG is on the radar.
“Robert Dover has been a big help, a big part of our success.”
Now, she said, she plans to compete at the WEG test event in Kentucky at the end of April then go to Europe with the Canadian elite squad of six combinations from which the final WEG team will be selected.
First, though, she needs to concentrate on the Grand Prix Freestyle on Friday night under the lights in the spacious International Arena. It will be the pair’s first freestyle of their “Riverdance” freestyle. “I’ll be spending a lot of time in front of the computer tomorrow.”
Todd Flettrich, who is now based in Wellington, got the ride on Otto just over a year ago when Oak Knoll Farm’s Margaret Duprey bought the 14-year-old Danish warmblood gelding that had been competed in the USA and Europe by Heather Blitz.
Without Margaret Duprey and coach Oded Shimoni, he said, “I couldn’t be doing this.”
“It was the best test I’ve had so far,” said Todd, who talks frequently to Heather Blitz about riding Otto.
Todd said he believes that Otto can be a consistent 70 per cent horse and received those marks from two of the five judges Thursday. He is looking at competing in at least two more CDIs–probably the Kentucky test event and a competition near Chicago, although he has the results to qualify for the U.S. Grand Prix championships at Gladstone, New Jersey, in August from which the U.S. team will be selected.
“I want to stay sharp and maximize Otto’s potential, and riding in competitions is the only way to do that,” he said.
Israel’s Oded Shimoni not only coached Todd, he also competed on Granada in the Grand Prix Thursday to successfully attain his second qualifying score to enable him to compete in the Kentucky Games, the third WEG he will have competed in. The others were Rome in 1998 and Jerez, Spain in 2002.
“I’m very excited,” he said after his score of 67.660 per cent was posted that included the marks from “O” judge Stephen Clarke of Great Britain that were four percentage points higher than the 64 per cent he needed. The score placed him fourth.
Of the 30 combinations from eight nations in the Grand Prix, 13 were Canadian and 10 from the USA. Canadians filled five of the top 10 places, two from the USA, two from Denmark and one from Israel.
Grand Prix scores:
E: Clarke H: Fore C: Foy M: Christensen B: Van Daele
Rider Horse NAT E H C M B Total % Pl.
Trussell, Belinda Anton CAN 327 338 333 328 334 1660 70.638% 1
Flettrich, Todd Otto USA 331 331 322 319 312 1615 68.723% 2
Petersen, Lars Beemer DEN 325 326 329 313 314 1607 68.383% 3
Shimoni, Oded Granada ISR 327 325 307 314 317 1590 67.660% 4
Winter, Victoria Proton CAN 317 321 312 310 310 1570 66.809% 5
Dueck, Shannon Ayscha CAN 306 310 313 314 316 1559 66.340% 6
Brooks, Jacqueline Gran Gesto CAN 311 314 303 311 305 1544 65.702%
Jaccoma, Susan Wadamur USA 318 315 305 299 300 1537 65.404%
Brooks, Jacqueline Balmoral CAN 306 307 296 303 324 1536 65.362%
Gundersen, Mikala Munter Leonberg DEN 307 310 303 297 312 1529 65.064%