D Niro in the History of Wellington’s Adequan Global Dressage Festival

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D Niro with Jacqueline Brooks after the second last Grand Prix Freestyle at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. Their last appearance there is Friday night. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 16, 2018–D Niro has been part of the Global Dressage Festival since its creation, competing in the first Grand Prix musical freestyle on Feb. 4, 2012 as one of a total of 17 horses to start in that CDI.

The first CDI came amidst the turmoil of show grounds still under construction and opposition that forced evacuation of the horses for a few hours from a newly built permanent stable to a tent hurriedly erected nearby.

D Niro’s final Grand Prix Freestyle at Global will be his 34th and is one of more than 150 entries in the CDI with riders representing two dozen nations. In the seventh winter season, Global has become the center of dressage in the America’s and with more than $600,000 in prize money spread over seven CDIs a major international circuit.

D Niro, now 19 years old, is making his last appearance at Global with Canada’s Jacqueline Brooks in the saddle, the only one of the horses in that initial competition to still compete seven seasons on.

The gray Swedish Warmblood gelding has been a star since Global’s founding,  building a huge fan base with memorable and emotional performances centered on “Hallelujah,” written by Canadian Leonard Cohen. Jacqueline teamed with Tamara Williamson, a British transplant to Canada, to create the music and choreography.

Tamara Williamson. © www.capphotographic.com

Of the 164 international Big Tour competitions for the pair as of this Friday, the last start for D Niro is his 99th in Florida.

Along the way, Jacqueline and D Niro went to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.


D Niro being ridden by Jacqueline Brooks at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The pair also competed at the 2013 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, and a tearful reunion with the breeder.

D Niro at the 2013 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com


Christina Almström with D Niro, the Swedish Warmblood horse she bred and lost track of until Jacqueline Brooks brought the gray to Gothenburg, 60 miles (100km) from hs birthplace and a remarkable reunion. Jacqueline and her mother, Mary, look on as a sobbing Christina caresses D Niro.

D Niro is not retiring as Jacqueline plans to compete him in Canada in summer, but the horse will not be competed by her in Wellington in 2019.

Jacqueline Brooks riding D Niro in the first Global Dressage Festival Grand Prix Freestyle on Feb. 4, 2012, a Saturday and before the musical performances became “Friday Night Stars” under the lights feature that brings thousands of spectators to the show grounds. The other three pairs in that first Global freestyle long ago left the competition arena. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com