Todd Flettrich & Otto Win Global Dressage Festival World Cup Olympic Grand Prix Special
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 19–The 16-year-old Otto ridden by Todd Flettrich beat a field of much younger upstarts to take the Olympic Grand Prix Special at the Global Dressage Festival’s World Cup event Sunday for the pair’s first international victory in more than two years on a score within a fraction of a personal best.
Todd of Wellington, Florida, and the Danish Warmblood gelding (Rambo x Jubel x Rampal) have competed at Grand Prix CDIs since September, 2009, and were on the United States team at the 2010 World Equestrian Games that secured a place in the Olympics in London this summer.
Otto was trained and competed at Grand Prix by Heather Blitz–their first CDI Grand Prix was exactly five years ago. Sunday, Heather rode her spectacular but still green at age nine Paragon to third place on 70.756 per cent Sunday, a fraction behind Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer on her new star mount, the 11-year-old Breaking Dawn, on 70.800 per cent.
“It’s more Otto and me,” Todd said of the horse owned by Cherry Knoll Farm, “I can take risks. Before the WEG we were still getting to know each other. Now, I’m willing to take a chance. I could not have done it before. He’s beome my horse now.”
Todd, at age 42, is a popular rider and trainer who is based in Wellington and in addition to horses has a passion for restoring classic American cars.
Asked how Otto appears to have renewed vigor with their two best scores coming this year, he said: “Otto is arrogant. I used to have to control him, I was trying to ride him. Now, I encourage his arrogance and confidence.”
The secret, he said, is not to compete Otto too much, and the horse had the fall off, a program that he admitted brought some criticism.
The pair have competed twice this year and acquired the two Grand Prix and two Olympic Grand Prix Special scores necessary to qualify for the U.S. Olympic selection trials.
“I don’t want to wear him down. I want him fresh for the trials. I don’t need to take him out every weekend and pound him into ground.
“I am able to train less. We do fitness things. I’m able to save him, keep him fresher.
“We have been able to cut the warmup time at competitions by five minutes for every show. We’re now down to a 28-minute warmup.
“It’s really nice to know when coming down the final centerline we still have a horse left.”
He trains mostly with Oded Shimoni, the Wellington-based Israeli, and occasionally with Hubertus Schmidt of Germany.
Maria Collinder of Finland, who was president ot the ground jury, said that there were fewer tension mistakes in the Special than the Grand Prix.
The multimillion dollar venue was new for most of the 29 combinations that started in the Grand Prix as it was only the second competition.
Complete results of the Olympic Grand Prix Special:
|E: Alonso||H: Gurney||C: Collinder||M: Mandl||B: Zang|
|Holzer, Ashley||Breaking Dawn||310.5||313.5||323||322.5||323.5||1593||70.800%||2|
|St Jacques, Pierre||Lucky Tiger||296||300.5||292.5||298.5||299.5||1487||66.089%||4|
|Vander Ploeg, Gary||Cezanne||296||299||291.5||296||302.5||1485||66.000%||5|
|Dutta, Susan||Currency DC||294.5||292||298.5||290||295.5||1470.5||65.356%||7|
|Brooks, Jacquline M.||D Niro||290||288.5||296||289.5||293||1457||64.756%||9|
|Kim, Dong Seon||Bukowski||290.5||289.5||293.5||290.5||290.5||1454.5||64.644%||0|
|Cordia, Elaine||Jewel’s Adelante||285||278||290||289.5||279||1421.5||63.178%||0|
|Strasser, Evi||Action Tyme||282||290||286.5||283.5||273||1415||62.889%||0|