Maria Florencia Manfredi Becomes First Argentine to Win Dressage World Cup Final Start
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 1, 2017–Maria Florencia Manfredi on Bandurria Kacero has become the first Argentine to win a start at a dressage World Cup Final and will join top riders from around the globe to compete at Omaha Mar. 27-April 2.
Maria, who lives in Buenos Aires, earned the start on the 11-year-old Argentine-bred gelding by placing highest in the rankings of combinations not in the four geographic leagues used to qualify for the annual championship decided by the musical freestyle.
“Amazing!” the 34-year-old rider exclaimed after she was told she had qualified for the final of the 32nd World Cup Final. “I can’t believe it. I need to go celebrate tonight.
“I never ever thought that I would go to the World Cup Final. The scores here were getting better and better. So then I started dreaming about it.
“Thomas (Baur, Adequan Global Dressage Festival sport director) told me although there was another rider ahead of me in the world rankings, ‘It’s not impossible. Although there is a big difference in the scores you can still make it.’
“I kept trying… and now I’m going to Omaha.”
Maria began riding at age five, competing in jumping until 1995 when the Pan American Games were held in Buenos Aires and as a 13-year-old she saw Patrick Burssens win both individual and team gold medals for Mexico.
“I saw those big horses dancing and I thought it was incredible and that’s what I want to do,” she recalled, “so I switched.”
She competed another horse at the South American Games in in 2010 and at small tour in Florida in 2012.
She bought Bandurria Kacero when the horse was four years old and developed the gelding enough to compete in the South American Games in Quillota, Chile in 2014.
The following year, she returned to Wellington for the winter circuit then took the horse to the Pan American Games in Toronto where she led Argentina to fifth place among the field of 10 teams.
Maria moved Bandurria Kacero to Big Tour and came back to Florida in 2016, an expensive undertaking as she pays her own way from money earned in her horse sales and training business in Argentina. She laughs that she is single with “no kids, no nothing, but four horses.”
She has made a big impact with her tango freestyles, which she performed at both small and big tours.
Isobell Wessels, the British judge who was president of the ground jury last Friday night in Wellington, singled out Maria and Bandurria Kacero for their obvious enjoyment of the performance that earned the pair a personal best score.
“I enjoy riding the freestyles,” Maria said. “I really have fun. I love my music because tango is the music from my country.”
She has never been to Omaha in the American heartland but is awed thinking about being in the same warmup ring with Isabell Werth, Carl Hester “all these big names.”
“Never in my life would I have thought this would happen,” she said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”