Adrienne Lyle “Shocked” & “Excited” by Harmony’s Duval’s Successful Debut in Atmosphere of Aachen’s CDI4* Grand Prix

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Adrienne Lyle riding Harmony’s Duval in the Aachen debut for the American-bred 11-year-old gelding. © 2019 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

AACHEN, Germany, July 17, 2019–Adrienne Lyle rode Harmony’s Duval to a CDI Grand Prix personal best score in the American-bred gelding’s debut in the atmosphere-laden Deutsche Bank stadium at the World Equestrian Festival Wednesday.

Adrienne and Duval were awarded 75.391% in the CDI4* for sixth place in a mistake-free ride that came less than six months since starting Big Tour at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida.

“I could not have asked more from him,” said the 34-year-old rider who is here to also compete Salvino, her World Equestrian Games team silver medal mount, for the United States in the Nations Cup beginning Thursday.

“I was a little nervous going in, to be a little honest about he would handle this crowd. He’s been quite electric in the warmup so we spent a lot of time just hand-walking him around, standing here to let him absorb the crowd. He was out a couple of times today, just chilling to get him down mentally.

“He went in there and he totally loved it. I was actually very shocked. I was able to drop the reins at the end that I’ve never been able to do on him. What a good place to do it.”

Adrienne, whose warm-up was by her mentor, Debbie McDonald, the U.S. team coach, rode Wizard for the U.S. at the 2012 London Olympics but was without a Grand Prix horse for a couple of years before she was given the rides on Salvino and Horizon–being given a year off after an accident following surgery last year.

Duval was located at Harmony Sporthorses in Kiowa, Colorado where owner Leslie Malone had bred the horse sired by by Rousseau and the damsire Riverman. In mid-2017, the horse was acquired by Duval Partners LLC, a group of Northwestern U.S. supporters of Adrienne who grew up there, and shortly after starting Small Tour.

Adrienne moved Duval up to CDI Grand Prix in February this year, winning six of eight starts  in Wellington and Tryon before she brought the horse to Europe for the first time. The duo won the European debut at Leudelange, Luxembourg two weeks ago.

Adrienne Lyle on Harmony’s Duval in the Aachen debut of the 11-year-old gelding less than six months since beginning CDI Grand Prix. © 2019 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Aachen, however, that hosts five Nations Cups over 10 days in dressage. driving, jumping, eventing and vaulting and is regarded as the world’s premier horse show, provided a challenge not previously experienced by Duval, or as Adrienne described it, “a big deal.”

A permanent stadium that seats about 6,500 spectators and the CDI4* that included Sönke Rothenberger on Cosmo that won team gold at the 2016 Olympics and 2018 World Games in Tryon and was victorious Wednesday on 81.370%,  Isabell Werth on her world No. 6 horse Emilio, Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour on her Cassidy that were bronze medal stars at the 2017 European Championships and other Olympians and championship  combinations.

She knew the possibility of Duval scoring well was in the horse, “but you don’t really know it until you come to a stage like this and put yourself up against these people in this kind of venue if it’s real,” she told dressage-news.com.

Adrienne is looking forward to the Grand Prix Special Friday that is usually a good test for Duval as “he has a ton of energy. Some horses fade in the Special but he shines in that.

“I’m just so happy–I thought it was a very relaxed test, a smooth test. Getting more out of him is never a problem so the fact that we were able to go in and just flow through everything nicely–he got his changes, which is something we always have to work on…”

She and Duval will head to the Denver area where she will be based for the next three months before going Wellington for the winter-long circuit that will be especially significant as she will prepare Salvino for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“This is his first year at Grand Prix so I want to be sure that I ride him only sparingly,” she said, “to give him time to get strong.”

If Duval continues improving and becomes reliable at top sport, she said, it gave her options for championships and not to have to rely solely on Salvino.

“I’ve been toying with the idea of maybe trying him for World Cup,” that will be held in Las Vegas next April.

“I didn’t know whether he could handle the environment but as good as he was here that might be a good option because Salvino we’re going to focus just on Tokyo qualifying so we figure it’s too much to do the World Cup qualifiers and the Special that’s required for Olympic selection.

“What a wonderful position to have two great Grand Prix horses.”