Wellington, Fla. – January 17, 2021 – Olivia LaGoy-Weltz and Rassing’s Lonoir danced to yet another victory on Sunday, January 17, concluding week one of the 2021 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival with their personal best score, an 81.545% in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W presented by Lövsta.
Second place in the class was awarded to Yvonne Losos De Muniz (DOM) on Aquamarijn, her own 16-year-old KWPN mare by United (78.165%); while third place went to USA’s Anna Marek on Dee Clair, Diane Morrison’s 13-year-old KWPN mare by Sir Sinclair, who earned a 76.100%, another personal best.
“It’s great to get a personal best,” LaGoy-Weltz began. “Whenever you’ve been out for a long time – it’s been since February 2020 for us because of COVID – you always wonder if you’ll remember how to do it. You’re a little rusty, the test riding needs polishing, and the horse has to settle. It’s nice to be coming out this strong, and that makes you feel good about the whole program.”
Riding to pieces of the Simon and Garfunkel hit “Cecelia” with freestyle music created by Marlene Whitaker, LaGoy-Weltz and the 17-year-old Danish Warmblood by De Noir 3 owned by LaGoy-Weltz and Mary Anne McPhail perfected some of the suggestions given to them during the Grand Prix CDI-W on Friday.
“Last night I went over my test in detail,” explained LaGoy-Weltz, “and went over judges’ feedback from the last test to figure out where we are in the evolution of trying to allow more of this horse out, to look at the things I held back on Friday. For example, feedback on my last test was ‘Open up more in the changes,’ and I knew I could do that this time around. Here and there, taking the feedback and making the best of it is really important.”
Typically ridden during “Friday Night Stars” in years past, the Grand Prix CDI-W Freestyle atmosphere was different, but appreciated by LaGoy-Weltz. She said, “With a horse like Lonoir, I enjoy riding at night and have definitely figured out how to manage that because he gets quite hot, but I do feel like he wasn’t missing that enthusiasm too much. Of course, we miss the people and the fans, but we are very grateful to be having the show, so any format is a good format.
Judge at C, Janet Foy (USA) echoed LaGoy-Weltz’s sentiment about being back in the show ring. “Everyone has to dust the cobwebs off, even the judges, because we haven’t been judging because there haven’t been a lot of CDIs. We are all excited to get back to it.”
Foy continued, “The class as a whole was really strong. Today was probably one of the best days judging ever here in the U.S., because we started with judging super young horses (Summit Farms Future Challenge Prix St. Georges Final and the Lövsta Future Challenge Young Horse Grand Prix Final) all morning and had wonderful horses all afternoon. I can’t say enough about the quality of the whole day. I gave Olivia a 10 on her first piaffe right in front of me. It was bouncy, it was active, and on the spot, beautiful contact, absolute harmony, and no tension. [It was a] super top-quality ride, the music was beautiful, and she rode to the music in a really wonderful way. Her degree of difficulty was incredibly high. To get that high of a score on the degree of difficulty but keep it harmonious, that’s very good riding. Super horse, super training, and I can’t say enough about it.”
AGDF Director of Sport Thomas Baur applauded the efforts of staff and competitors in the opening week of the 2021 season, saying: “I think we should be very grateful that we are here. The COVID measures worked really well this week; people were complying with masks and distancing and were very diligent. Overall, it’s been a good start.”
In the $10,000 Summit Farms Future Challenge Prix St. Georges Final, Canada’s Pia Fortmuller took home the victory with her 10-year-old Hanoverian mare Frieda (also by Furstenball), scoring a 74.852%. Jodie Kelly-Baxley (USA) on her own 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Negro, Grayton Beach, earned second place with a 72.734%, while Kelly Layne (AUS) brought home third on Fernando, Ellen Trouille’s nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Foundation, with a 71.911%.
Fortmuller has had Frieda since she was two years old and has developed a dynamic relationship with her that she hopes will welcome a promising future. “My biggest goal today was to give her confidence and consistency,” she explained. “She was 110% consistent with me and was with me the whole time. It means the world to have this opportunity with her. I have big hopes for her future, so today was a huge milestone for us.”
She continued, “The extra six months coming into this final really gave her more time to get more confident. We finished off the last CDI here (in March 2020) with a major breakthrough. I had taken a step back with her the year before and didn’t show, and I came back out at small tour and she really found her confidence in the higher levels of collection, so to have some time to get that developed further was helpful.”
Fortmuller also noted the mare’s sensitivity and explained how she has made her a more articulate rider.
“She is very sensitive, very loyal, and knows her people,” she said. “In terms of trainability, she’s the type of horse that doesn’t want to make a mistake. That means that I really have to up my game and hold myself accountable. If there’s a mistake, it’s my fault. Her sensitivity is a wonderful thing and has really made me a better rider.”
Fortmuller plans to continue on with the mare’s training and compete in the 2021 Lövsta Future Challenge Young Horse Grand Prix Series this season. “This series is such a valuable building block in the horse’s career,” she went on. “In Europe they have many classes like this, and to be able to get into the big ring is inspiring for the horses and the riders. I’m excited to continue participating in them and look forward to the future.”
AGDF Director of Sport Thomas Baur concluded, “It’s crucial to have these series because it brings up the next generation of FEI horses. For Global, it’s really important to have these classes. I’d like to extend my congratulations to the winners, but also to the other competitors, as we have seen a lot of talent and a lot of hope for the future. And finally, it’s remarkable that the winners of these two finals were both mares by Furstenball.”
Competition at AGDF will resume with AGDF 3 January 27-31. Competition highlights will include the FEI Grand Prix and FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI4*, presented by the U.S. PRE Association, FEI Grand Prix and FEI Grand Prix Special CDI4*, presented by Havensafe Farm, FEI Grand Prix and FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*, presented by Horseware Ireland, FEI Grand Prix and FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3*, presented by ProElite, Small Tour CDI3*, Small Tour CDI1*, and the CPEDI3* presented by Adequan® and Nutrena, as well as national competition.
Results: FEI Grand Prix CDI-W Freestyle
1. Olivia LaGoy-Weltz / USA / Rassings Lonoir / 81.545
2. Yvonne Losos De Muniz / DOM / Aquamarijn / 78.165
3. Anna Marek / USA / Dee Clair / 76.1
4. Anna Buffini / USA / FRH Davinia La Douce / 74.97
5. Benjamin Ebeling / USA / Illuster Van De Kampert / 74.235
6. Jill Irving / CAN / Arthur / 73.295
7. Susan Dutta / USA / Figeac DC / 69.391
8. Abraham Pugh / USA / Elfenperfekt / 70.595
9. Sahar Daniel Hirosh / ISR / Whitman / 70.145