Kelly Layne & Udon P Win Wellington CDI3* Freestyle for 1st Aussie Victory in 3 Years of Global Dressage Festival
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 7–Kelly Layne rode Udon P to victory in the CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle Friday for the first Australian win in the international division of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in its third year at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Udon P and the 38-year-old Kelly, married to an American and based in Wellington since the summer of 2009, scored 73.625 per cent with Germany’s Kim Jesse and Charming 8 competing in their first international competition since April last year second on 70.200 per cent and Susan Dutta of Wellington and Currency DC third on 69.925 per cent.
The score was the highest ever for Kelly individually as well as for the combination as it was in the Grand Prix Thursday when the pair placed second on 69.240 per cent just 0.040 per cent behind America’s Katherine Bateson-Chandler.
Kelly began riding the 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Hierarch x Uniform) last March after the daughter of the owner gave up riding to start a family. The horse is owned by Whistlejacket Farm of Knoxville, Tennessee.
She had seen the horse ridden for two years before she was offered the ride and was not sure initially how she would get on with it–18.1 hands in front and 17.2 hands behind (184-175cm).
“He was super light and easy to ride with great character,” she said. “I bonded with the horse extremely well.”
The owner told her: “If you like riding him you can because I like watching him.”
“It’s wonderful to have an owner who trusts you,” Kelly said. “She is very involved. She never misses a competition. There is nothing forced because there is no big goal in front of me that I feel the pressure to achieve.”
After four Freestyles, Udon has started to learn his musical cues, and she “feels more harmonious with the horse, a feeling that comes from more experience in the ring, more flowing with the music. I feel I can ride to the music.” The Abba music freestyle was composed by Marlene Whitaker of Custom Freestyles of Columbus, North Carolina.
Her goal is to complete the winter circuit that runs through the end of March and then fly to Europe to compete for a place on Australia’s team for the World Equestrian Games at Normandy, France in August.
Kelly, who met her husband, Steve, in Australia, left her base in Woombye on the Sunshine Coast an hour north of Brisbane in 2006 to be on the Aussie team at the WEG in Aachen, Germany in 2006. They then moved to Colorado before heading to Wellington.
Although she could become an American citizen, Kelly said she would always ride for Australia lthough she is unlikely to move back Down Under.
She has found the access to quality horses is higher in the United States, a much bigger country with many more people supporting the sports. Plus, she has South American clients many of whom are based in Florida and she maintains a customer base in Japan that she developed when she was in Australia.
Her husband’s two children by a previous marriage are aged 21 and 18 and enjoy living in Florida.
Kelly’s mother is Helen Anstee, an Australian A level judge who is a frequent visitor to Florida and was here for Friday’s victory.