Most Contenders for USA Olympic Team to Compete at Wellington CDI5*/CDI3*

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Sarah Lockman with First Apple, her 2019 Pan American Games gold medal mount, is dressed for Florida’s warm weather as she readies the horse for the veterinary inspection at the Global Dressage Festival. © 2021 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 24, 2021–Most of America’s top competitors are seeking to advance campaigns for a place on the United States Olympic team and a slice of $180,000 (€148,000) in prize money in the Big Tour CDI5*/CDI3* events at the Global Dressage Festival this week.

Steffen Peters on Suppenkasper, Sabine Schut-Kery on Sanceo and Adrienne Lyle on Harmony’s Duval, the combinations at the top of the U.S. Equestrian Federation rankings and almost all others that have declared for the team to be in Tokyo for the Olympics in July passed veterinary inspection Wednesday.

Grand Prix for both the CDI5* Freesytyle and Special as well as for the CDI3* Freestyle are scheduled for Thursday with the CDI3* Grand Prix for the Special set for Friday–all competitions at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center with no general admission spectators but expected to draw a near full VIP pavilion, though tables widely spaced to follow coronavirus requirements.

Steffen Peters with Suppenkasper at Global, top ranked in U.S. Olympic qualifiers and the rider seeking to go to his fifth Olympics for the U.S. Although the Chargers NFL team left San Diego for Los Angeles, Steffen shows by his face mask he still supports the team. © 2021 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The competition is the seventh week of the winter-long Global circuit and virtually uninterrupted horse weekly jumper/hunter and dressage shows at the Palm Beach show grounds since resuming in May after a two-month break because of Covid-19. The organization and management of so many events with face masks, social distancing and other requirements enforced on the thousands of competitors from around the world over eight months has so far been a success that may be unparalleled anywhere in equestrian and most other sports during the year-long pandemic. Florida’s weather allowing outdoor competitions year-round is a major factor.

The CDI5*, the only premier designated event in the western hemisphere and one of only 11 on the calendar for 2021, has 17 combinations from six nations while the CDI3* has 23 pairs from seven nations on five continents.

In addition to an Olympic selection event for the Americans, it is also for Canadians with several of that nation’s contenders for the team to go to the Games competing here.

Adrienne Lyle with the American-bred Harmony’s Duval. © 2021 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The only leading U.S. partnerships missing are Adrienne Lyle and Salvino, the combination highest ranked on the world standings, and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz on Lonoir, already with the highest result to earn a start at the World Cup Final in April and requiring one more score that she will seek in Wellington next week in the last of the North American qualifiers.

Adrienne, based in Wellington, told dressage-news.com that she is pacing the competition schedule for Salvino, her mount on the U.S. silver medal team at the 2018 World Equestrian Games. The 2012 Olympic team rider plans to compete the 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion at Global in March, then at the newly opened World Equestrian Center in Ocala, four hours north of Wellington, April 15-18.

The U.S. plans to send the leading combinations in Florida–there are no California CDIs–to Europe then back to home before heading to Tokyo, a similar program for 2020 that was scuttled by the pandemic. She competed Salvino only once on last year’s circuit.

“I want to ensure that if we earn a place on the squads for Europe and then Tokyo Salvino is as fresh and competition ready as he can be,” she said.

Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo, competitors at the World Young Horse Championships in 2012, on the U.S. gold medal team at the 2015 Pan American Games seeking to be on the U.S. Olympic team. © 2021 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com