Caroline Roffman & Her Highness O Notch First Victory to Win Kentucky CDI3* Grand Prix

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Caroline Roffman riding Her Highness O to victory at the Kentucky CDI3* Grand Prix. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Caroline Roffman riding Her Highness O to victory at the Kentucky CDI3* Grand Prix. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, May 23, 2014–Just four months since starting international Grand Prix, Her Highness O was ridden by Caroline Roffman to their first victory at Grand Prix when they won the Kentucky CDI3* Friday and the only combination above 70 per cent.

Her Highness, or Hannah as she is called, scored 71.360 per cent in only their fifth CDI Grand Prix since starting their Big Tour career at the end of January. The horse had spent most of her life until three years ago out in a field and as a broodmare until Caroline started training and competing her.

Caroline and Her Highness appeared at home in the giant Rolex stadium and received a mark of nine for extended trot–the first nine ever for Caroline–and the best Grand Prix result so far their short career.

“Today was the first day I felt like I was riding a Grand Prix horse, not a small tour horse that’s doing the Grand Prix,” Caroline told dressage-news.com.

“I felt confident in there, not nervous. She’s a hot horse, but she made me feel what I assume one is supposed to feel like in a Grand Prix.”

Caroline Roffman and Her Highness O at Kentucky. © 2014  Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Caroline Roffman and Her Highness O at Kentucky. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Katherine Bateson Chandler of Wellington, Florida and Wellnetta that she also started competing at Grand Prix this year placed second on 69.460 per cent.

Canada’s Jacqueline Brooks overcame a shoe thrown by D Niro in the middle of the ride to place third on 68.980 per cent and lead a group of seven Canadian combinations seeking a place on that country’s team for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France at the end of August.

For the Americans and Canadians it was all about making their teams for WEG.

Caroline of Wellington, Florida will take the 11-year-old black Hanoverian mare (Hohenstein x Weltmeyer) into the Dutta Corp. United States Championships at Gladstone, New Jersey in mid-June. If she can hold that ranking, she would remain one of the eight pairs to be selected to go to Europe to compete for the four places on the WEG team.

If Caroline is in that squad but doesn’t make the final cut for the team, the European experience with Her Highness will be invaluable added to her adventure two years ago when she rode Sagacious to became the first American to be in the Under-25 division at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany. Her performance won plaudits on both sides of the Atlantic for claiming the runnerup spot. Her Highness had gone along to be competed in the small tour.

Despite that international show record, the Grand Prix journey is all new for Her Highness O and almost as new for Caroline herself. Her only previous experience at Big Tour was a half dozen shows with Sagacious in Florida and Germany. The gelding was already confirmed at Grand Prix by her longtime trainer and rider, Lauren Sammis.

Caroline Roffman on Her Highness O celebrating victory at Kentucky. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Caroline Roffman on Her Highness O celebrating victory at Kentucky. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

When the 25-year-old Caroline made the Grand Prix debut with Her Highness at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington in January, she thought she had finally made it to the Big Tour on her own.

“You forget that it’s as hard as it is,” she told dressage-news.com. “You have this Grand Prix horse and you think it’s good. That’s just the beginning. This is the hard part, making him do it.”

Competing in Grand Prix events with dozens of riders from about two dozen countries at Global, many putting in their best rides looking to go to Normandy, put her effor into perspective.

“Hannah’s third year of showing ever,” she said. “This was her fourth Grand Prix. It was my eighth Grand Prix.”

Caroline took time out after the winter circuit to assess the results and decide where she wanted to go.

She went back to her own training that had gotten the mare to Grand Prix. And she got occasional help from Debbie McDonald, an Olympic and World Equestrian Games medal winner and the first American ever to win the World Cup–all on Brentina, a mare, that makes Debbie not only much sought after as a trainer but with extra special expertise with female equines.

“I’ve only just touched her talent,” Caroline said of Her Highness. “In my opinion, there’s another gear that I haven’t been abe to let out of the bag.

“But she’s still a low mileage model. Hannah didn’t start getting real work until she was eight years old.

“Whatever happens in Gladstone is fine. I either get one of the eight spots and go to Europe or I don’t and I go back to Florida.

“Either way, I’m excited. If we go back to Florida, we have lots of time to get ready for Rio (de Janiero, host of the 2016 Olympics).

“The worst case is we spend summer in the pouring rain, wind blowing. riding around in puddles. sweaty with lots of bugs. It doesn’t bother her and it doesn’t bother me.

“It’s ‘hot’ dressage, like Bikram yoga.”

She and Her Highness are in sync with each other, in her opinion, in ability and confidence levels.

“There’s no magic. If I stay true to knowing what is right and wrong which, in my opinion, is listening to the horse,” she said, “I cannot go wrong trying to keep the compass pointed in the right direction with total regard to how she feels.

“She tells me when to push, when to back off. The last two shows have been on target.”If I stay true to know what is right and wrong which in my opinion is listening to the horse I cannot go wrong trying to keep the compass pointed in the right direction with total regard to how she feels.

The leg wraps on Her Highness O display the nationality of rider Caroline Roffman and the crystal on the boots are, well, a decorative girl thing. The Dutch are well known for their displays of orange (Edward Gal and Totilas at the WEG in Kentucky) and Great Britain in recent years has outdone most nations in displaying their Union Jack pride. The Stars and Strips leg wraps and crystal boots (ready for the Fritzens Swarovski CDI4* that's mandatory for U.S. WEG team prospects?) © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The leg wraps on Her Highness O display the nationality of rider Caroline Roffman and the crystal on the boots are, well, a decorative girl thing. The Dutch are well known for their displays of orange (Edward Gal and Totilas at the WEG in Kentucky) and Great Britain in recent years has outdone most nations in displaying their Union Jack pride. The Stars and Strips leg wraps and crystal boots (ready for the Fritzens Swarovski CDI4* that’s mandatory for U.S. WEG team prospects?) © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

“There’s been a lot of pressure. I’m young. People believe in me. That’s a great position to be in but it’s also lots of pressure.

“I’m going into the Festival (of Champions) doing it all on my own. I know I need help and Debbie (McDonald) has helped me. I’ve done the horse basically on my own.

“I’ve been able to go back, listen to the borse and go with my gut.”

Results:

CDI3* GRAND PRIX E: Christensen-DEN  H: Hotz-USA  C: Holler-GER  M: Maurel-FRA  B: Ayers-USA 
E H C M B Total
1 HER HIGHNESS O CAROLINE ROFFMAN
CAROLINE ROFFMAN
USA Ridden 71.700   71.000   73.300   67.300   73.500   71.360% 
2 WELLNETTA KATHERINE BATESON CHANDLER
JANE FORBES CLARK
USA Ridden 66.000   69.400   70.500   68.900   72.500   69.460% 
3 D NIRO JACQUELINE BROOKS
BROOKHAVEN DRESSAGE INC
CAN Ridden 68.800   68.200   72.100   69.200   66.600   68.980% 
4 DEVON L DIANE CREECH
DIANE CREECH
CAN Ridden 70.900   68.500   67.500   68.200   67.600   68.540% 
5 POP ART JILL IRVING
JILL IRVING
CAN Ridden 66.500   71.000   69.700   65.300   65.600   67.620% 
6 DEGAS GARY VANDER PLOEG
GARY VANDER PLOEG
CAN Ridden 66.500   68.500   67.700   66.700   66.500   67.180% 
7 VIVA’S SALIERI W TOM DVORAK
AUGUSTIN WALCH
CAN Ridden 66.000   65.900   66.900   64.500   68.800   66.420% 
8 DEGAS 12 JILL IRVING
JILL IRVING
CAN Ridden 64.300   66.800   68.000   65.500   63.800   65.680% 
9 CARAVELLA MEGAN LANE
MEGAN LANE
CAN Ridden 64.000   67.100   67.000   64.000   65.300   65.480% 
10 VERDADES LAURA GRAVES
LAURA GRAVES
USA Ridden 63.600   66.500   63.800   63.000   67.700   64.920% 
11 FLAIR MICHAEL POULIN
PINELAND FARM INC
USA Ridden 64.100   64.400   63.600   66.000   64.200   64.460% 
12 SIGALIA FRANZISKA SEIDL
FRANZISKA SEIDL
SUI Ridden 63.600   63.900   64.600   59.900   64.800   63.360%