Laura Graves Debuts SenSation HW in First Competition for Partnership, National St. Georges at Ocala’s World Equestrian Center

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Laura Graves on SenSation HW in the pair’s competition debut, a national Prix St. Georges at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida. © 2021 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

OCALA, Florida, April 16, 2021–Laura Graves rode SenSation HW in competition for the first time Friday, placing third in a national Prix St. Georges at the World Equestrian Center.

Laura and the eight-year-old received a score of 66.471% from the single judge, with marks ranging from a high of 9 for collected walk and collected canter to a low of 4 for collected canter and flying change. Eline Eckroth of Ocala on Daphne on a score of 67.500%.

Laura, based in Geneva, about two hours from these show grounds and the only American ever to be ranked world No. 1 which she was on the now retired Verdades, was given the ride on the eight-year-old Westfalen gelding (Sunday x Dancier) by owners Scott and Carol McPhee a year ago.

SenSation was United States  champion at the ages of five and six when ridden by Michael Bragdell of Hilltop Farm in Colora, Maryland, but had not been in a show ring for 18 months before Friday.

Laura said she had been working hard with Debbie McDonald, her personal coach as she was with Verdades–retired after the World Cup Final in Sweden in 2019–as well as the U.S. team coach.

“He is such a talented horse and today was our first time getting to know each other going down the centerline,” Laura said.

“He really clicked into his ‘show mode’ which was exciting but also cost us quite a few mistakes.

“I felt a level of power that I haven’t from him before. He is an ambitious horse. Now we just have to find our timing and harmony together the way we have at home.”