Pop Art Wins Wellington CDI-W Olympic Special Despite Rider Faux Pas
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 5–Ashley Holzer praised Pop Art as being “great” but admitted his “jockey was not stellar” but the Canadian pair on Sunday managed to pull off victory in the inaugural Global Dressage Festival’s $50,000 Wellington DressagE Olympic Grand Prix Special CDI-W.
Ashley made what she described as “a really big mistake” on the centerline but the rest of the ride was good enough for a final score of 71.867 per cent with the USA’s James Koford on Rhett second on 68.133 per cent and Korea’s Dong Seon Kim on Bukowski third with 66.089 per cent.
The Olympic Grand Prix Special, created by the FEI Dressage Committee to meet a need to reduce the length of the test, has also become a requirement for combinations seeking to qualify for selection trials for the United States and some other nations. Because horses and riders in World Cup events can choose to go from the Grand Prix to either the Freestyle or the Special many riders are choosing the Grand Prix Special at the expense of the freestyle for which World Cup scores count.
Leif Torblad of Denmark, president of the ground jury for the Special, suggested that national federations or the FEI should consider allowing combinations to compete in all three components–the Grand Prix, the Special and the Freestyle at World Cup qualifiers. This occurs at many non-World Cup events, including some of the world’s top shows such as the World Equestrian Festival at Aachen, Germany.
It was a shame, he said, that riders came from Canada and other nations were forced to make a choice of either the Special or the Freestyle.
“They should be able to ride the three tests,” he said. “It is not the organizer’s fault but the national federation and maybe the FEI can consider a change.”
Ashley Holzer is one of only a few North American riders with two Grand Prix mounts–Pop Art, her 2008 Olympic partner, and Breaking Dawn that she began competing at CDI Grand Prix in recent months.
But she has decided to focus on the London Games and not the World Cup even if she qualifies.
On Sunday, though, she said of her ride: “I made a really big mistake on the centerline, a big faux pas. My horse was great. His jockey today was not stellar.”
Pop Art, a 15-year-old KWPN gelding (Amsterdam x Jodyprinses x Cabochon), “is still a rock star when he is not being piloted incorrectly,” she said.
Ashley, who lives in New York and Wellington, praised the Canadian Olympic selection process which allows riders and horses to accumulate points from a small number of shows rather than head-to-head competition four weeks before the Games and then head to London for the competition.
“I think the criteria has been set up to allow us to manage our horses, to give us a lot of leeway.”
She also came out in favor of the Olympic Grand Prix Special, a shortened version of the standard Special, because the new version allows the testing of some movements that the older version did not.
James Koford–who won the Freestyle on Saturday aboard Pharaoh–rode his second Grand Prix horse. Rhett , in the Special.
The humid weather, he said, made it seem like “we were all sort of swimming through the air.”
The 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (R. Johnson x Madette x Hendo) is a big horse “so cardio vascular efficiency is not his gift.
“He is so special to me,” he said, “like my best friend. I owe it to him to be better prepared.”
He described Pharaoh as a “little street fighter, cocky and can strut into the indoor shows” as best suited for the World Cup while Rhett is more relaxed and confident and more suited to outdoor shows such as the Olympics.
“Now I’m 49 years old I have a different perspective.” James said. “I’m blessed to have two great horses. It really ia a journey. I’m having such a great time and learning so much at such a fast rate.”