USA Pan American Games Gold Medal Partnership of Sarah Lockman & First Apple Debut at Int. II on Way to Grand Prix
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 4, 2020–The American partnership of Sarah Lockman and First Apple debuted at Intermediate II Saturday in the pair’s first competition since capturing Pan American Games individual gold and United States team silver five months ago.
Sarah and the 10-year-old KWPN stallion unbeaten in 2019 in eight starts at Small Tour, including the Pan Ams in Lima, Peru in July, competed at Int. II on their way to Grand Prix with the goal of earning a place on the U.S. team.
Sarah and First Apple were awarded 76.324% by retired FEI 5* judge Lilo Fore, the sole judge in the national competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Stadium complex where the winter-long Global Dressage Festival begins next week. Whips were allowed.
Lilo, who lives in California but said she had never before seen First Apple, described the quality of the horse as “very extravagant.”
“It has all the right ingredients to become a very good Grand Prix horse,” she said. ”I liked the way the rider was showing the horse. Piaffe still needs to be worked on because it’s still very open. But I believe the rider had a good reason for leaving it there.
“By the same token all the rest–lateral movements, pirouettes, the canter, the passage coming off the ground–very high marks. I think the rider is very aware of where the horse is in its training and allows the horse to grow into these movements. I really truly appreciate that.”
Sarah was “thrilled” with the performance of First Apple that she described as a “workaholic” as he never gives up working until he’s told.
First Apple seemed at ease in the performance at the Global grounds, in the confidence-building outing despite this being the horse’s first competition here.
Most top California combinations are in Wellington for Olympic preparations, including the CDI5* Feb. 19-23 that will be a significant factor in selection of the three-member team for Tokyo.
A decision has not yet been made by Sarah and Scott Hassler, her trainer, on the debut Grand Prix for First Apple, but she said it will be by the end of January.
First Apple came from Holland’s President Stables and was trained by Patrick van der Meer to Small Tour before being acquired a year ago by Gerry Ibanez as an American team prospect for the 31-year-old Sarah, based at Summit Farm in. Gerry died unexpectedly in November. However, the family decided to maintain support for Sarah at least through the 2024 Olympics.