Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 14, 2022 – Competition in the first week of the 2022 Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) continued on Friday, featuring the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle under the stadium lights with an excited crowd onlooking. With spectators allowed at the venue for the first time since the end of the 2020 season, the eagerness to watch the sport that Wellington loves in real time was palpable. A field of 11 horse-and-rider combinations returned to the International Arena for their second shot at a ribbon and valuable points towards the FEI World Cup Dressage standings. At the conclusion of the class, it was Frederic Wandres who bested the other competitors once again, this time with a new personal best score of 81.065%.
Frederic Wandres and Bluetooth OLD, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Elena Knyaginicheva and Sergey Knyaginichev, made a successful Wellington debut together just one day prior, earning the top spot in the CDI-W Grand Prix as well with an exceptionally consistent test. With an electricity in the stadium full of spectators, combined with a drop in temperature, Bluetooth OLD appeared to take on too much energy before entering the arena but quickly settled into his routine once the music started. The pair’s previous personal best Freestyle score of 79.33% was awarded to them in Aachen, Germany, last year, so Wandres was thrilled to start out the season in Florida with such an improvement in a World Cup qualifier class.
Anna Buffini and her own FRH Davinia La Douce, a 15-year-old Hanoverian mare, finished in second with a score of 78.485%, also a personal best Freestyle score. Despite being a newcomer to the Grand Prix level, Buffini impressed the judges with a bold and forward test. Buffini rode her Freestyle routine to music that included a song she covered herself, adding to the uniqueness and creativity of her floorplan.
Rounding out the top three was the USA’s Ashley Holzer aboard Havanna 145, a 15-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Diane Fellows, with a score of 77.25%. The pair also secured a third place finish in Thursday’s Grand Prix, and returned to the ring on Friday to lay down a solid test despite a couple of bobbles. Holzer rode Havanna 145 to Camila Cabello’s song ‘Havana’, an idea of Fellows. The song choice was well received by both the crowd and the judges, and the pair closely matched the beat for much of their ride choreographed by Tom Hunt.
Earlier in the day, the CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle commenced in the International Arena, and Jennifer Williams from Olympia, Washington was the first to go. Williams dazzled the judges with her Viking-themed freestyle by Karen Robinson. She and her 19-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Millione scored a lofty 77.175%, enough to hold onto the first place prize at the conclusion of the class. Williams remarked that it wasn’t just the win that made the ride so special, but the harmony and trust she felt with her horse in the ring.
Susan Pape of Great Britain and her 13-year-old KWPN stallion Harmony’s Eclectisch were close behind. The pair’s ride earned them a score of 77.005% and second place for the day. Harmony’s Eclectisch has competed very successfully at the Grand Prix level for several seasons in Wellington, and the pair is looking forward to a fruitful 2022. Christoph Koschel claimed third place with his 12-year-old Lusitano stallion, Favorito 11, earning a score of 75.015%. Favorito 11 is relatively new to international competition, but is off to a good start in his career with Koschel thus far. Koschel has a long list of dressage accolades, medaling in both the 2010 World Equestrian Games and 2011 European Dressage Championships.
Competition in AGDF Week 1 will resume Saturday, Jan. 15, with the FEI Young Rider Individual Test at 10 a.m.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Frederic Wandres – CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle winner
On his new personal best:
“Today, 81% was really something I was working for, and to reach over 80% is always something really fantastic and incredible. He is maybe still a little bit green here and there but I said it before, he has not done 10 International Grand Prixs on his board so he’s a young one. I’m super happy that he’s in that atmosphere and also really brought super results. I was a little bit afraid when I watched the first riders here in the arena tonight. They had a little bit of problems maybe because of all of the atmosphere and everything. I think the horses are not used to it anymore with all the spectators. So I’m more happy that it did so well and it went super.”
On his Freestyle:
“The person who made my freestyle is my favorite freestyle producer, he also produced the music from my other horses and for Isabel Werth. I’m very happy with it. The main part is called ‘Tuesday’ and it’s kind of modern. Sometimes I can choose a little bit between the freestyles but when I know that there are a lot of spectators and the crowd is good, then I always like to choose this one because people love it and it’s good to get into the rhythm.”
Anna Buffini – CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle second place
On being second in a World Cup Freestyle:
“It’s incredible. I really came into this season again with not a lot of expectations, it’s my second Grand Prix year and I still haven’t had the mare super long. So to come out here, we upped the degree of difficulty to 10 a few weeks ago because we knew we needed to be harder. To come out here and do what she did is incredible. I’m so proud of her.”
On her test highlights:
“Her passage is always my favorite. I think she’s so expressive, she clocks it out and she goes in those extended canters. She’s very expressive and very sharp, and I think they appreciate the sharpness. She just tries so hard. I think you can see her heart out there, how hard she tries. She’s not a huge mare, she’s not the biggest moving and she gives absolutely everything she can, every single time.”
On singing in her own Freestyle:
“I’m a worship leader so my other passion is singing. If I wasn’t a horse rider I’d be a singer. To put the two together is a dream come true.”
On her Freestyle:
Murray Myers and Taylor Kade who made Steffan Peters’ Freestyle that went viral for the “rave horse” video did mine. I think they’re fun because they’re younger and I wanted to bring some younger, more modern music into the sport. During the pandemic we found BTS and they turned into our favorite artist. We watch them all the time, we listen to them all the time and they inspire me so much, so I wanted to put them in my music and everytime I’m out there it’s just as fun for me as it is for people to watch because I love the music so much!”
Ashley Holzer – CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle third place
On having spectators back at the Global Dressage Festival:
“It’s definitely exciting for my mare. She’s very sharp too and as you can see by the prize giving ceremonies she’s very lit up by the atmosphere. I think it speaks volumes to the fact that she went in the ring and tried her heart out. The only mistake she really made was completely my mistake. I was trying a little too much, but again she’s just showing to me this year how much she’s trying. I think to feel your horse try that hard, especially when they’re feeling the tension of the spectators and it’s a new feel for them, I think it speaks volumes for the mare. We’ve all got mares which is kind of cool. I think having all these female horses prance out there and do their best is pretty special.”
On her Freestyle:
“Tom Hunt did my music. Diane Fellows, the owner of Havana, was the one that was like come on, you’ve got to do Havana, and I was like ‘oh, that’s so lame.’ Then I did and everyone was like ‘this is amazing!’ So I was wrong and Di was right. The choreography I designed myself but again Tom was really the one that put the music together and Di was really the one that thought of the great music, not me.”
Jennifer Williams – CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle winner
On her freestyle:
“I believe Millione’s first season competing in the Grand Prix was in 2019. We used this freestyle for Festival of Champions and Nations Cup last year. We tweaked it a little bit to add a little more time in the pirouettes and centerlines. We also ended with a piaffe to the halt, so that was fun and different. Millione gets spicy and ready to go on that centerline.”
On the music:
“I always joke that Millione is my Danish viking because of how much of a hearty work horse he is, so I told [Karen Robinson] we should have some viking themes incorporated in our music. We really built the freestyle around that little piece.”
On their performance:
“It was wonderful, Millione gave me the feeling that I could relax and push things forward and soft. He was more excited than I was expecting him to be, so I rode him conservatively in the half-passes. He’s such an honest horse and I can always count on him to give 100%. He did that today. Last year I was the bridesmaid many times by 1/10 or 1/1000 of a point. Though I was still very proud of him then, today gave me the feeling that I left it all out there. It was mistake-free and I felt like our harmony shone through this time. To win on top of that is just the icing on the cake. It’s pretty special.”
On her future plans:
“I’m just going to let him dictate how things will go with our future competitions. I really don’t have anything set in stone. He continues to tell me what feels good for him. My program this last six months has really been a lot of playing and testing here and there. There’s no stress. Millione knows the movements now, and it’s really just keeping him happy and fit in his body. Maybe we’ll do a couple more shows. We’ll just see what happens this year.”
Results: CDI-W Grand Prix Musical Freestyle
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Owner / Score
1. Frederic Wandres / GER / Bluetooth OLD / Elena Knyaginicheva & Sergey Knyaginichev / 81.065%
2. Anna Buffini / USA / FRH Davinia La Douce / Anna Buffini / 78.485%
3. Ashley Holzer / USA / Havanna 145 / Diane Fellows / 77.25%
4. Codi Harrison / USA / Katholt’s Bossco / Codi Harrison / 74.14%
5. Jan Ebeling / USA / Status Royal Old / Ann Romney / 73.5%
6. Katie Duerrhammer / USA / Quartett / Kylee Lourie / 73.33%
7. Paula Matute Guimón / ESP / Delagronge / Paula Matute Guimón / 72.29%
8. Mikala Münter / USA / Salsa HIT / Paul Blint / 70.5%
9. Evi Strasser / CAN / Déjà Vu Tyme / Evi Strasser / 63.86%
10. Missy Gilliland / USA / Toledano XXXI / Missy Gilliland / 63.69%
11. Michael Bragdell / USA / Qredit Hilltop / Hilltop Farm Inc. / 63.34%
Results: CDI4* FEI Grand Prix Freestyle
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Owner / Score
1. Jennifer Williams / USA / Millione / Millione Partners / 77.175%
2. Susan Pape / GBR / Harmony’s Eclectisch / Harmony Sporthorses / 77.005%
3. Christoph Koschel / GER / Favorito 11 / Koschel Dressage / 75.015%
4. Ashley Holzer / USA / Valentine / Ashley Holzer / 69.21%