Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 10, 2020 – Following the dominating performances by the Canadian Grand Prix riders in the CDI-W Grand Prix on Thursday, the riders return to the stadium to compete under the stadium lights for the first Grand Prix Freestyle of the 2020 season. The pressure was on for all of the riders, especially those who hoped to gain valuable points to qualify for the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas this spring or work towards gaining crucial experience leading up to the Tokyo Olympic Games. Although many of the riders had to perform their test in the night’s rainy weather, the Candadian riders once again came out on top, replicating their one-two-three finish.
Jill Irving and her own 18-year-old Hanoverian gelding Degas 12 rode to the tune of The Beatles to win the class with a 76.06%. Irving was thrilled to improve upon her test from the previous day, bettering her pirouettes and remaining consistent in her efforts with Degas 12.
Irving explained how unique and special it has been for the Canadian riders to work towards such big goals together, detailing how she, Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu and Naima Moreira Laliberte are all coached by Ashley Holzer. For her, working so closely with her teammates on a regular basis has made them all stronger, both as a team and individually as riders.
Fraser-Beaulieu and All In, her 15-year-old KWPN gelding, finished in second place once again with a score of 75.74%. Fraser-Beaulieu was excited by the feeling that All In gave her in the ring on Friday night, despite the rain that picked up at the start of her test and the bit of “stickiness” that she felt with him the previous day. She was excited to be back in the ring after her maternity leave in 2019 when she welcomed her first son, and she is now working towards significant goals with her longtime mount and Canadian teammates.
Finishing in third once again was Laliberte and Statesman, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by KML Inc. The pair put forth another strong performance, just missing Fraser-Beaulieu’s score and earning a 75.645%.
Competition in Week 1 of the 2020 Adequan Global Dressage Festival will resume on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 9 a.m with the Amateur Prix St. Georges for the Intermediate I Freestyle.
RESULTS: CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle
1. Jill Irving / CAN / Degas 12 / Jill Irving / 76.06
2. Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu / CAN / All In / Brittany Fraser Beaulieu / 75.74
3. Naima Moreira Laliberte / CAN / Statesman / KML Inc. / 75.645
4. Heather Blitz / USA / Semper Fidelis / Rowan O-Riley / 75.125
5. Rebecca Waite / USA / Doktor / Patricia Stempel / 73.98
6. Lindsay Kellock / CAN / Sebastien / Enterprise Farm LLC, Lindsay Kellock / 73.455
7. Dongseon Kim / KOR / Belstaff / Dongseon Kim / 72.065
8. Jessica Jo Tate / USA / Kynynmont Gunsmoke’s Gideon / Pam Liddell / 69.895
9. Missy Gilliland / USA / Samaritano IX / Philip Merrill / 68.89
10. Micah Deligdish / ISR / Destiny / Diamante Farms / 68.4
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Jill Irving – CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle winner
On her test:
“When I came out, I was like, ‘wow, that felt pretty good,’ but when I’m in it, I’m not thinking about whether it’s good or bad. I’m just doing what I have to do. Degas is going to be 18 so I was super thrilled with his energy. His piaffe and passage felt great, he was really flexible and not as nervous. That’s what age brings. His nerves have been challenging a little bit, hence why I don’t do the victory gallop, but I was just super thrilled with him.”
On her music:
“It’s The Beatles. My niece is a singer/songwriter and we were on a trip and she said, ‘let me help you with your music,’ so she thought that was suitable for Degas. I haven’t done it that much because we’ve been gunning for WEG and Pan Ams and it’s been all about the Special, so it’s really fun to be out there at Global and have our amazing sponsors. It’s a village to make this work, and it’s really fun to be a part of it. I just love it.”
On preparing for Tokyo:
“I was really nervous actually about the first show — getting it out of the way. I, for the first time ever, felt pressure for the country, pressure for the team, pressure for Tokyo. So I haven’t made a plan. I’m old-fashioned. I listen to the horse a lot. I’ll start to make my plan now when I think a little bit more, but we’re connected to our criteria so our strategy has to be based on if we want to go to Tokyo versus the World Cup. I have to figure out how that is going to work so for me, it’s based on what’s best for the horse.”
On Degas 12:
“He’s my fifth child, except he doesn’t talk back like the others. I got him when he was six from Berkhard Valler. He was pretty spicy and we grew together. You always think ‘wow, if I was better when he was younger I could have done more,’ but we’ve been really lucky.”
On the Canadian Team:
“We all train with the same coach, Ashley Holzer, and we’re all best friends so it’s very special. I think it’s very special. They keep me young.”
Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu – CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle second place
On her test:
“The beginning of my test felt absolutely incredible. I had a small mistake in my ones which was a little bit of a pity. I thought the beginning of the test was probably the best feeling that I’ve ever had on [All In]. This is my second competition back and he’s the type of horse who needs to be in the ring fairly often. Yesterday in the Grand Prix, I felt him a bit sticky at times and just a little bit unsure, and today he came out ready to rock so I was really happy about the feeling that I had in there today. I would say the whole beginning of my test was great. I was really pleased with the passage, the half-pass and the trot extension. Up until my mistake I was really, really pleased.”
On the Canadian Team:
“I think Canada has a lot of nice horses this year and I think we have more depth than we’ve had in the past so I don’t think it’s going to be an easy walk on the team, that’s for sure. We all have to work hard, but it’s exciting for Canada.”
Naima Moreira Laliberte – CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle third place
On her first Friday Night Lights:
“I’m happy to break the ice. This was my first Friday night freestyle. I’ve been looking up to this moment for a long time, so I’m really happy to be finally competing in it. I thought [Statesman] did a great job in there. It’s a different atmosphere under the lights. [I had an] unfortunate rider mistake, but the rest felt amazing, so I’m happy. This is my third season with him, seventh grand prix competition ever with him, so we’re newcomers.”
On her music:
“I think for me it’s riding through the music. It was composed for [Statesman] by a French composer so it’s really exciting to have my own music that we worked on from the beginning to the end. I must say, the end of my freestyle where I go up centerline and fan to the right, to the left, and then back is my favorite part to do, and it also means we’ve done it, it’s the end, let’s focus.”