Jacqueline Brooks & D’Niro Take Devon World Cup Freestyle With Rider’s Highest Score Ever Outside Canada
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
DEVON, Pennsylvania, Sept. 29–Jacqueline Brooks and D’Niro won the Dressage at Devon World Cup Freestyle Saturday night with a dramatic performance of new musical choreography that has been her main focus since the pair returned from London after riding for Canada at the Oympics.
Jacqueline and the flashy gray gelding brought the standing room only crowd of 5,000 spectators to their feet on a chilly Saturday night for the performance that earned the pair a score of 74.300 per cent, not only a personal best for the combination but the highest score ever for the rider in a competition outside her homeland and the first time she has won the freestyle at Devon in the decade and a half she has competed here.
And the result for her and the horse she bought in February, 2011, was the highest so far in the World Cup North American League standings after three of 10 events in the United States to qualify for the Final in Gothenberg, Sweden next April. Two spaces are reserved for North America based on the average of the top two scores
Pierre St. Jacques based in Anthony, Florida, rode Lucky Tiger, his 2003 Pan American Games team gold medal partner, to second place on 73.550 per cent while David Marcus and Chrevi’s Capital, also on the Canadian team in London, were third on 73.500 per cent.
The ride by Jacqueline and the 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (D-Day x Alitalia x Napolean 625) captured the hearts of the crowd that has made the Saturday Night Freestyle an event that for decades has packed the intimate showgrounds in the heart of Main Line Philadelphia with more spectators than perhaps any other non-championship dressage show in the United States.
The freestyle, called “Poets and Dreamers,” was a compilation of pieces from Canadian artists but the highlights were piaffe and passage tours to Leonard Cohen’s “Halelujah” that Jacqueline described as showing off D’Niro’s “internal metronome,” and the movements brought the crowd into the performance.
A two-time Olympian for Canada, on Gran Gesto at the 2008 Beijing Games and on D’Niro in 2012, she said the freestyle had been her total concentration since returning from London and had in her mind, “if Valegro rode this freestyle what score would he get?”
Winning her first freestyle at Devon after years in which she had won at every other level, the 45-year-old rider said, was “a big goal for me… this was great. Awesome.”
The pair will be entered in as many as possible of the five North American League World Cup events in Florida over the winter, she said, in an effort to make it to the Final which she has experienced once before, on Gran Gesto in 2007.
D’Niro has developed in stages–first, to train him to Grand Prix as he was confirmed small tour when she bought the horse, then campaigning for a berth on the Canadian Olympic team after starting their international Grand Prix a year ago which meant showing in every CDI in Florida.
He moved up another step at the training camp in England ahead of the Olympics when she could cocenrate on D’Niro, then the horse learned more in the competition arena in London developing confidence in pressure situations that “he came a different horse.”
“I barely had to ride him tnight,” she said, “but sit there and thank him.”
David Marcus said that while the Worl Equestrian Games in Normandy in 2014 is the main goal for Chrevi’s Capital, “If the World Cup fits inro that I would be ecstatic.”
He said that Australian Nicholas Fyffe, who rode Sentimiento in the same freestyle, compiled the freestyles for both of them.