Allison Brock & Rosevelt Win Wellington CDI4* Grand Prix Special, Only 3rd USA Combo To Exceed 74% in 2016
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 19, 2016–Allison Brock rode Rosevelt to victory in the CDI4* Grand Prix Special Saturday with a score matching her personal best and only the third American combination to score above 74 per cent in the Special this Olympic year.
Ignoring a crack of thunder and lightning along with heavy rain after a humidity-laden warm-up, Allison and the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding scored 74.255 per cent to match the result for the pair riding on the American gold medal team in the CDIO3* Nations Cup a year ago at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in the same show grounds.
Great Britain’s Lara Griffith on Rubin Al Asad came back from a disappointing Special performance a month ago to place second on 71.059 per cent and putting her on track to “getting back to that point where 73 per cent is a normal average rather than being your goal.” (see separate story)
Lisa Wilcox, a 2000 Olympics and 2002 World Games medalist for the U.S., was third on Galant with 69.510 per cent.
For the 36-year-old Ali Brock and the horse she has been partnered with for seven years the results in the CDI4*–the score in the Special came after a personal best 74.080 per cent in the Grand Prix two days earlier–likely assured the pair to be among the eight or so combinations to go to Europe to vie for selection to the team for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.
The weather was not much concern to her after initial concerns about Rosevelt getting overheated in the humidity in the warm-up.
“I’ve never had an indoor so we’ve learned to deal with the conditions,” Ali said. “It started out pelting rain. I was more worried about hanging on to the reins. In the second part of the ride there was a crack of thunder and lightning and I thought, ‘We’ll keep riding until they say don’t. He was very good about the whole thing.”
Ali came into this competition determined to show everyone she can count one-tempi changes. The pair succeeded with what she described as a “pretty solid” ride with no mistakes.
“It’s crazy,” she said, knowing expectations were high during the intensive lineup of seven CDIs in Wellington over winter and not competing following the disappointing CDI5* a month ago. “I don’t think it’s all sunk in.
“For me to come out and, after the last show, throw it down like this. I had to sort things out at home. It’s not like I disappeared. It’s hard while everyone else is showing. But I was willing to take the risk just to come out and be better.
“That’s why this show was so pivotal. I was making uncharacteristic mistakes not riding in the safe zone. But you have to in an Olympic year.”
She credited Michael Barisone who first became her coach in 2010 for being “like this Moma chicken who is just a constant presence… a rock.” And Robert Dover, the U.S. coach, “was awesome” in helping prepare for this CDI4*.
Ali described the long-term relationship with Rosevelt, owned by Claudine and Fritz Kundrun who has stood squarely by her, as a “marriage.”
“We’re at the point where we know each other well. We’ve had our fights, our ups and downs. I have to be careful with his feelings. He’s my guy.”
She never thought they would arrive at this point, though, as Rosevelt had “an incredibly hard time learning a single change as a young horse. As we started pushing up the levels and he became confirmed at one-tempis he got super hot. I spent a lot of time in the back rings working out, making him canter like a normal horse and telling him, ‘you don’t have to buck me off’.”
Ali first started working with Michael in 2010 after having spent three months with Jan Brink in Sweden.
She lived at his farm in Long Valley, New Jersey while developing Rosevelt to Small Tour.
In 2011 Ali took Rosevelt to England for what she called a “life changing” experience of riding with Kyra Kyrklund, the Finnish Olympian, and her husband, Richard White.
On her return home, she continued to work with Michael whose New Jersey base was close enough to the Kundrun’s farm in Virginia and both were regulars in Florida for winter.
“I need someone who could help deal with stallions,” she said, “who had the depth of knowledge. He is very, very wise.”
The pair scored consistently 70 to 72 per cent in national competitions and then went to Saugerties, New York in 2013 to make their CDI debut. It was, she recalls, “a disaster.. it blew up.” Devon, Pennsylvania followed and was worse.
The pair returned to Devon a year later and showed they were on track by winning the CDI Grand Prix and the Special.
The 2015 Florida winter circuit followed with the Nations Cup team gold the highlight of a successful season and then to Europe with the squad preparing for the Pan American Games, competing in Munich, Germany and Achleiten, Austria.
In addition to working with Michael, Kyra Kyrklund and Richard White check in regularly “like mother hens.”
The duo are eighth on the U.S. Olympic rankings but the results from this show are expected to move the pair higher in the standings.