Laura Graves & Verdades Make “Really Big Accomplishment” to Win Wellington CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 18, 2016–Laura Graves and Verdades produced a performance the rider called a “really big accomplishment” to win the CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle Friday with no mistakes that put the pair near championship level as they work toward their first Olympics in less than five months.
The KWPN gelding that Laura said had recently become more sensitive to atmosphere although he’s now 14 years old was really “stepping up to the plate” before a full house under lights at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival to score 79.475 per cent for the victory. That was close to the pair’s Pan American Games result in 2015 and three percentage points off their World Games fifth place finish.
Kasey Perry-Glass and Dublet performing their first Grand Prix Freestyle in the debut season at Big Tour placed second on 75.750 per cent.
Juan Matute, Jr., the Spanish teenage phenom who competes at levels from Young Riders to Big Tour, rode Don Diego Ymas to third on 73.225 per cent. He was the youngest of the under-30 trio at the top of the competition.
All five judges placed Laura first with Denmark’s Hans Christian Matthiesen at C awarding 81.125 per cent and Carlos Lopes of Portugal at M 82.125 per cent.
Laura and the horse she has owned since he was a foal went through a short period of up and down results after winning their first U.S. Grand Prix Championship last December.
“With as much experience globally as this horse now has he has recently become sensitive to the atmosphere,” Laura said. “His confidence has to come from me giving him the cues. Tonight was a really bg accomplishment personally, having that attention and stepping up to the plate. That’s what it was about.”
Verdades, she said, “is a really quirky horse. When you least expect it, he will explode; he’s afraid of his own shadow. We’ve been through a lot but lucky for both of us it’s been together.”
Like Kasey and Dublet, working with Debbie McDonald “just gives you that feeling that you’re never alone, you’re going to come out on the other end of it. She gives you that confidence that you’re going to ride well.”
Kasey who moved from California to Florida last summer to work with Debbie has transformed Dublet “into something else. She gives me confidence, She’s like a second mom.”
Adrienne Lyle, the 2012 Olympic and 2014 World Games rider for the United States who is also Debbie’s assistant, did the choreography for Dublet’s Freestyle. Kasey worked on the music with Tom Hunt, who who does the music for Charlotte Dujardin.\
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect, no idea of what Dublet would do,” she said, but laughed and added, “Obviously we have some things to tweak and enhance but we’ll start with 75 and go from there.”