Laura Graves & Verdades Win Wellington Grand Prix Freestyle, Kasey Perry-Glass & Dublet 2nd to Earn World Cup Final Start

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Laura Graves on Verdades in their “Coming to America” performance winning the Global Dressage Fesival Grand Prix Freestyle to earn a start at the final in Gothenburg, Sweden in a month. © 2019 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar 1, 2019–Laura Graves and Verdades clinched a start at the World Cup Final a month away by winning the Adequan Global Dressage Festival Grand Prix Freestyle Friday night to give the No. 2 combination in the world a third chance to challenge Germany’s Isabell Werth for the championship. Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet placed second to their highest ever score in Wellington to also get an invite to Gothenburg.

Laura and the 17-year-old KWPN gelding scored 84.535 per cent to wrap up an unbeaten run of three qualifying competitions–one more than in previous years in North America–and go to Sweden with an average of 84.230 for their musical performances.

The result for Laura and the horse she has partnered since he was bought from a video from the Netherlands as a foal to be currently No. 2 in the world was earned despite a mistake in the ome-tempi changes in the freestyle highlighted by Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” that she prepared for the World Equestrian Games that did not see a freestyle because of weather.

Olympic and World Games team mate Kasey and Dublet scored 83.875 per cent, their second highest ever score, for runner-up but felt so lucky to have the 16-year-old Danish Warmblood to ride that she left the arena in tears.

Adrienne Lyle on Salvino, a third team mate from the Tryon World Games, placed third on 80.160 per cent, the second hghest score for the pair and expected to be enough to insure their invitation to Gothenburg to join Laura on Verdades and Kasey on Dublet based on the world rankings.

And it also put all three top placegetters above 80 per cent.

Laura Graves on Verdades, Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet and Adrienne Lyle on Salvino celebrating success at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle. © 2019 SusanJStickle.com

Remarkably, all three riders are coached by Debbie McDonald, the official U.S. team coach but who has been personally working with Laura, Kasey and Adrienne for years. Debbie was the first American ever to win a World Cup Final, which she did on Brentina in 2003 at the same Gothenburg arena where the final will be held April 3-7.

And the sponsor of the Grand Prix Freestyle was Havensafe Farm owned by Eizabeth “Betsy” Juliano who owns Salvino and is a financial supporter of Laura Graves who lives in Geneva, an Orlando area community 175 miles/200km north of Wellington.

Laura, 31, who on Verdades has beaten Isabell and Weihegold twice in seven head-to-head competitions, more than any other combination in the world since the 2016 Olympics, said she had met earlier Friday with David Stickland, the score analysis guru who is also a consultant to the U.S. federation. As a result, she said, she tested some changes to her freestyle that caused some “minor glitches” Friday night but she hoped would pay off in Sweden next month.

“I feel totally prepared,” said Laura of going to Gothenburg for what is likely to be the third straight final in that Isabell on Weihegold intend to win.

The competition before a crowd estimated at about 4,000 spectators on a balmy semi-tropical mid-winter night in Florida was the last freestyle at Global before the World Cup Final.

“I think it’s always an unrealistic expectation to judge yourself solely based on what we do here at Global. You’re so much more prepared, always, when we go on that international stage in other countries. And we feel so at home here, and we make ourselves such at home here… and we’re lucky to do that. But we’re so comfortable sometimes that we feel unprepared.”

Verdades has “made it very, very clear” that with Laura he is neck and neck with Weihegold and Isabell in the Grand Prix.

“In more than one instance,” she said, “my horse has bettered her mare. I think she is so prepared and so precise with her freestyle. That’s where I’ve been lacking in my homework. Over the next couple weeks, I know I have my bases covered with my training, I was so grateful that USEF brought in David for us and to sit down and have this advantage to go over.

“Don’t put that in your story, because if Isabell reads it and knows what we’re doing she’s going to do the same thing! If I know her at all…”

Kasey Perry-Glass smiling here on Dublet on their final centerline in the World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle that earned them a start at the Final next month and brought her to tears of joy as she left the Global Dressage Festival arena. © 2019 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Kasey said she was not expecting Dublet to have the energy he displayed going into the arena.

“Coming off of a show last week I thought he was going to be a little more tired, but he was actually more lit than I’ve felt him in a while, so we had little bucks and switches,” she said. “It’s a good thing for him. Debbie the whole time in my warm-up was just like, ‘Tell him he’s beautiful to calm him down a little bit.’

“It was an amazing test. I came out crying. It was one of those tests that just gave me goosebumps and made me feel lucky to have my horse.”

Like Laura, Kasay said, she will go back and work on issues pointed out in David Stickland’s computer analysis that can be improved for the Final… “he has an amazing extended walk and I’ve just gotten a little lazy on that. It’s really going back and figuring that kind of stuff out.”

Adrienne Lyle on Salvino at the end of their Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle. © 2019 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Adrienne said that both she and Salvino were surprised by his coming out “pretty lit” to compete.

“I figured it was a hot week,” she said, “and they’d be tired tonight but they came out on fire. So that was a little different strategy for me to deal with in the warm-up, but what I was happy with is that he really just pulled it all together when we went down the centerline.”

This was only their second time riding this freestyle, Adrienne said, “so I don’t think I’ll be changing much in it. I’m just going to try and get a little more familiar with it. Salvino is a little greener to this, so just trying to improve the training to make it more comfortable him and to learn the pattern, to feel really at home in his own skin out there.”

Results:

World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle
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Judges: Henning Lehrmann-GER Evi Eisenhardt-GER Irina Maknami-RUS Christof Umbach-LUX Susan Hoevenaars-AUS
Place Score Nat. Athlete Horse E H C M B Spectators
1. 84.535 USA Laura Graves Verdades – 576 84.350 82.825 85.775 85.825 83.900 83.307 (1)
2. 83.875 USA Kasey Perry-Glass Goerklintgaards Dublet – 529 84.500 83.250 85.500 83.750 82.375 79.104 (3)
3. 80.160 USA Adrienne Lyle Salvino – 585 80.675 78.975 79.600 80.425 81.125 79.471 (2)
4. 78.965 USA Shelly Francis Danilo – 589 81.000 77.550 79.050 79.075 78.150 77.829 (4)
5. 76.970 DOM Yvonne Losos De Muniz Aquamarijn – 514 75.875 77.150 77.275 77.900 76.650 75.571 (5)
6. 74.655 USA P.J. Rizvi Breaking Dawn – 508 73.975 76.800 75.650 73.900 72.950 73.785 (6)
7. 72.660 CAN Lindsay Kellock Sebastien – 540 72.350 71.625 70.950 73.600 74.775 71.788 (7)
8. 69.025 USA Jessica Jo Tate Faberge – 605 68.225 69.275 69.000 69.625 69.000 67.000 (11)
9. 68.780 USA Karen Lipp Whitney – 601 67.575 68.675 70.850 66.400 70.400 68.700 (9)
10. 66.945 CAN Evi Strasser Disney Tyme – 547 66.600 67.125 67.075 68.275 65.650 70.556 (8)
11. 66.050 USA Jane Karol Sunshine Tour – 600 65.475 66.050 66.525 65.625 66.575 68.030 (10)
12. 65.960 CAN Jacqueline Brooks Westwood 5 – 509 64.175 65.075 66.750 67.175 66.625 66.664 (12)
13. 65.830 USA Jacqueline MacDonald Cuddy Malcarat – 505 65.850 65.975 67.050 66.025 64.250 65.349 (13)