Tina Konyot & Calecto Win Florida World Cup Qualifier, But Unlikely to go to Leipzig Final

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Tina Konyot and Calecto V leading the victory gallop after winning Florida's Spring Challenge World Cup qualifier. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Feb. 12–Tina Konyot and Calecto V, won Florida’s Spring Challenge World Cup qualifying musical fresstyle Saturday night, but the U.S. team member at last year’s World Equestrian Games said she most likely will skip the Final so they can compete at top European shows over the summer.

Tina of Palm City, Florida and the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion by Come Back became the first combination to attain the required two scores in the North American League that includes Canada and the U.S. to qualify for the Final in Leipzig, Germany at the end of April. The pair scored 73.800 per cent just three weeks ago at the same Jim Brandon Equestrian Center on the outskirts of Wellington

Saturday night’s 75.300 per cent was the second highest score for the pair–last year’s WEG test event result that was less than one percentage point higher was their best since starting Grand Prix 18 months ago.

Shawna Harding of Aiken, South Carolina, on Come On III, by Come Back II, placed second with 72.425 per cent and Elisabeth Austin of Williston, Vermont and her mother’s homebred Olivier were third with 70.300 per cent.

With one more qualifier in Florida and two in California, other combinations have a shot at qualifying, including Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, California, who already has one score of 74.700 per cent from an East Coast competition last year, and Katherine Bateson-Chandler who has a score of 70.250 per cent, also from the qualifier in Florida three weeks ago.

Tina said that she plans to compete at several shows in Europe over the summer, culminating in the World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen, Germany in July with the goal of improving.

To fly Calecto to Europe for the World Cup Final, then return to the United States–“I could not afford to stay in Europe for three months and I also have personal obligations at my farm in Connecticut,” she said–and then head across the Atlantic again for summer shows would put “too much wear and tear on the horse and he comes first.”

“I would be honored to be invited to the World Cup Final,” she said, “but to make two trips to Europe over a period of two months would be too much for Calecto so it’s not likely that I would go if I qualify. His (Calecto’s) wellbeing is very important.”

She said that the black stallion performs differently indoors and under the lights at night as was the class Saturday night. “He’s a little bit different, not 100 per cent the same as he is when I ride him during the day outdoors,” she said.

But the horse’s cool, calm and collected demeanor is the same, as demonstrated by the end of her freestyle when two black cats ran into the arena directly in front of Calecto as he halted. The cats ran under the judge’s box at H. Calecto stood stock still.

Great Britain’s Stephen Clarke, president of the five-judge panel, said he thought the quality of the freestyles–both from a technical standpoint and choreography–were “very good, very high quality” and “I think our scores reflected that.”

Tinne Wilhelmsson and Silfvén-Don Auriello. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Earlier Saturday, Sweden’s Tinne Wilhelmsson-Silfvén rode Don Auriello to victory in the Grand Prix for the Special.

Tinne and the nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding scored 69.362 per cent with the USA’s Pierre St. Jacques of Anthony, Florida, on Lucky Tiger second on 69.064 per cent and the World Equestrian Games team partnership of Todd Flettrich of Wellington, Florida and Otto third on 65.915 per cent.

Tinne has been successful in competing her World Equestrian Games mount, Favourit as well as other horses brought over to Wellington for the three-month Palm Beach winter circuit.

She will stay in Florida until after the Masters.

Shawna Harding and Rigo won the Intermediaire I with a score of 69.211 per cent after placing second in the Prix St. Georges Friday, in a competition that is important for the Americas in a Pan American Games year where the dressage competition is at small tour.

The weather Saturday night was unseasonably cold for South Florida–about 55F (13C) at show time, but the competition was bedevilled by rain earlier in the day which worsened already drenched outdoor competition and warm-up arenas.

For the second day in a row, organizers took the unusual step of permitting competitors in CDI classes to withdraw because of concerns over the footing. Most directly affected was the Intermediaire I in which riders from several nations had entered as a qualifier for the Pan Am Games. Three withdrew from the Prix St. Georges Friday and 16 from the Intermediaire I on Saturday.

The CDI warmup arena which was closed Friday was not reopened Saturday and riders again had to warm up in a single arena for both national and international classes.

At a riders’ meeting, organizers were questioned about whether the footing would be good enough for the World Dressage Masters CDI5* scheduled for the same Palm Beach County taxpayer-funded show grounds on Mar. 9-10. A CDI3* is being held in conjunction with the 5* competition and some riders are looking to compete in the CDI3* to qualify for the €100,000 (US$130,000) Masters event.

Organizers gave assurances that the footing would be “fixed” in time but gave no details.

Footing at the Jim Brandon Center has been an issue for dressage since it was opened as a multi-use facility. Dressage competitors got approval from the county government for riders to pay for and install improved footing in the covered arena, but have resisted requests to make improvements in outdoor arenas as they are used by other disciplines requiring different surfaces.

Results of the Grand Prix Freestyle: Sat CDI Freestyle

Results of all other classes: Sat Spring Challenge Results