Laura Graves & Verdades Win Wellington CDI5* Freestyle, 4th Straight Victory for Top American Pair
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 9, 2018–Laura Graves and Verdades won the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI5* Grand Prix Freestyle Friday night adding luster to the top ranked American combination with 18 straight victories over the past three years at what has become their home show ground at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
A stadium packed with at least 3,000 spectators saw Laura and the 16-year-old KWPN gelding post a score of 84.375 per cent for the fourth victory in four starts this year as the world’s No. 4 ranked combination gear up for the World Cup Final in Paris in April and the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina in September.
Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén, the seven-time Olympian for Sweden, placed second on Paridon Magi on a score of 78.500 per cent and in an atmosphere that she said suits the 15-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding.
Laura of Geneva, Florida and Verdades, Olympic team bronze medalists and reserve champion at the Omaha World Cup Final in 2017, won the Grand Prix and the Freestyle at this same CDI5*, the highest rated dressage competition, in 2017.
The pair logged their first Big Tour win here in 2015 with six victories in seven starts.
Their streak of victories began in 2016 with eight wins in a row, six in 2017 and four so far this year.
This was also the first run-through of a new floor plan for the musical performance that she had ridden only once before at home–“I don’t practice freestyles a lot. I love to perform them but I hate to practice them.”
“I’m super pleased with how it worked out,” she said of freestyle that she plans to tweak and to ride to if she makes it to the Paris World Cup Final for which she needs one more score to qualify with two qualifying events to go at Global.
Vincenzo Truppa of Italy, president of the ground jury, said no one should complain about the judging as the rankings were pretty much aligned. But the individual scores showed that he awarded 73.750 per cent to Tinne and Paridon Magi while Janet Foy of the United States gave the pair a mark of 81.750 per cent.
In the CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle, Yvonne Losos de Muñiz rode Foco Loco W to a personal best score for the first back-to-back victories for the Dominican Republic’s Olympic pair.
Yvonne and the 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood scored 74.350 per cent for the win that came two days after claiming the Grand Prix for the duo’s first victory in 3 1/2 years of international small and big tour competitions that included the 2015 Pan American Games and the 2016 Olympics.
Yvonne, who lives in Wellington in winter and Spain in summer, has had success this year after deciding to keep the horse when she had difficulty making the partnership work. She now is coached by Germany’s Ton de Ridder who was on hand for this week’s show.
Spain’s Juan Matute Guimon on Don Diego Ymas placed second on 73.400 per cent with Canada’s Megan Lane on San D’Or third on 71.850 per cent, the same order of finish as the Grand Prix.
“I’m a bit speechless,” Yvonne said of her ride on Foco Loco which along with her other horse, Aquamarijn, has qualified for the World Games. “I’m trying to soak it all in.”