Adrienne Lyle & Wizard Win Wellington Nations Cup Freestlyle Gold, Spain’s Juan Matute & Don Diego Silver
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 21–The Olympic partnership of Adrienne Lyle and Wizard produced a powerful and expressive Freestyle Friday night to win the Wellington Nations Cup individual gold medal in what was perhaps the most ezciting and emotion-charged competition in American dressage.
The VIP pavilion in its first black tie celebration in the three years of the Global Dressage Festival was a sellout and the spectator stands were filled to overflowing for the unique competition of big and small tour horses competing for individual medals after the United States won gold, Canada silver and Spain bronze in the team contest.
Adrienne of Ketchum, Idaho and Wizard were the victors with 75.800 per cent in the Grand Prix Freestyle.
The 16-year-old Spanish phenom pair of Juan Matute, Jr. and Don Diego Ymas riding at small tour won the silver medal with a score of 75.325 per cent.
The United States Olympic team pair of Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida and Calecto V, competing at Big Tour, placed third on 75.200 per cent.
The event that began Tuesday with the veterinary check and continued with weather that registered a high temperature of 85F (29C) and a low of 65F (18C) counted more than 500 rides, almost half of them in the CDI that made it the largest dressage show ever outside Europe.
It was what Adrienne described as a “super atmosphere, amazing” competition at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center which attracted riders from almost two dozen countries in its third year.
The horse she has been riding for the past nine years and she took to the London Games in 2012 and then was out of commission for most of 2013 recovering from an injury was “very spicy, kind of hot-headed” in the Freestyle but was probably the most rideable he had ever been with powerful and expressive movement.
The format of the Nations Cup that included big and small tour combinations was a simple head-to-head competition in the Freestyle in what is billed as “Friday Night Stars.”
Juan, who with his 18-year-old sister, Paula competing on Tarpan Ymas that she has been riding for only a month made up half of the Spanish team, said he felt he received a really good score for his Intermediate Freestyle compared with the “harder movements” of the Grand Prix combinations.
“Who can complain? Second!” he said, explaining that it was the pair’s first night class before a big audience wth lots of atmosphere that made him “a bit nervous.”
“I think he likes people looking at him,” he said of the 11-year-old German-bred gelding by Don Frederico. “I think we both like it.”
The Freestyle was the third ever performed by the pair and its creation was a “family affair”–he and his mother selected the music of sound tracks from movies and video games while his father, a four-time Olympian for Spain, produced the choreography for an event that he decribed as “best experience of his life.”.
Tina Konyot who rode Calecto V, a 16-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion, on the U.S. teams at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and the 2012 Olympics, said: “I always want to win… but I’m thriled to be third. I’m so overhwelmed by this young man (Juan Matute), watching him ride, the entire family, the excitement revolving around dressage. I normally want to pretend I’m happy not to be in first, but in this case I really am happy. My horse is getting up to par.”
Arlene “Tuny” Page, who with her husband David Page provided the wine from his collection for the event and sponsored the Nations Cup, said there as “enormous energy” at the event.
She admitted getting some heat from designating the VIP paviion black tie for the first time but “getting glammed up is fun and made everyone feel a bit special.”