Kiichi Harada Captures Wellington CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle for 2nd Victory in 2 Days

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Kiichi Harada and Egistar completing the Global Dressage Festival CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle to claim the second victory in two days for the Japanese Olympic partnership. © 2020 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 20, 2020–Kiichi Harada and his 2016 Olympic partner Egistar won the Global Dressage Festival CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle Friday night for the second victory in two days in their campaign to earn a start at their home Games in Tokyo.

Kiichi and the 17-year-old Dutch-bred gelding scored 73.525% for only the second musical performance by the pair in five years. The only other freestyle at international level was in Tokyo in April 2015.

The pair that won the Grand Prix Thursday for their first victory outside Japan topped the starting lineup in unseasonably cold weather for South Florida that included combinations from the United States, Australia and Israel.

Australia’s Kelly Layne, based in Wellington, rode Samhitas to a personal best score of 72.625% with Ashley Holzer, a four-time Olympian for Canada but who now rides for the United States, in third on Radondo on 72.605%.

In addition to the 2016 Olympics, Kiichi and Egistar competed at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina in 2018.

He and several other contenders for Japan’s team for the Tokyo Games are competing Wellington this season under coach Christoph Koschel of Germany.

“This is a dream come true,” Kiichi told dressage-news.com, “to win here at night under the lights before this crowd. This means so much in my journey with this horse.

“I’m over the moon.”

The scoring by the five judges was questioned in the news conference after the competition, where Michael Osinski represented the judges.

Three of the five judges–Michael Osinski of the USA, Susan Hoevenaars of Australia and Peter Storr of Great Britain–awarded the winning pair more than 75%, while Kari McClain of the USA was 74.975% but Raphael Saleh of France marked the ride at 65.725%.

Michael Osinski said judges had different opinions and perspectives but they would discuss the disparity Saturday.

Results:

CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle

                  Raphael Saleh-FRA Michael Osinski-USA Susan Hoevenaars-AUS Peter Storr-GBR Kari McClain-USA    
Place   Score %   Nation Athlete Horse     E H C M B   Spectators
1.   73.525   JPN Kiichi Harada Egistar     65.725 75.875 75.250 75.800 74.975   73.196 (1)
2.   72.625   AUS Kelly Layne Samhitas     70.175 72.225 71.025 73.675 76.025   72.006 (2)
3.   72.605   USA Ashley Holzer Radondo     70.850 75.100 70.375 72.550 74.150   71.308 (3)
4.   67.130   USA Jan Ebeling Indeed     66.275 66.525 62.700 67.350 72.800   68.769 (5)
5.   66.760   ISR Sahar Daniel Hirosh Whitman     62.050 68.625 68.325 66.250 68.550   68.887 (4)
6.   64.735   USA Bent Jensen Chance     62.750 61.025 64.350 67.325 68.225   65.426 (6)