The FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 5*, presented by Diamante Farms, concluded FEI CDI 5* competition today at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades added another win to their week, as the duo scored a 74.667% to best the class. Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE) and Benetton Dream finished in second with a 72.412%, while Belinda Trussell (CAN) and Anton captured third place receiving a 71.431%. In the FEI Grand Prix Special 3*, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, Steffen Peters (USA) and Rosamunde took home the victory. Competition for AGDF 5 concludes tomorrow with the FEI Intermediaire I Freestyle CDI 1*, presented by Kirk Arabians.
Graves and Verdades topped the FEI Grand Prix CDI 5*, presented by Diamante Farms, on Thursday and chose to compete in today’s FEI Grand Prix Special class. While their test was not as exact or powerful as may be typically expected from the duo, it was an example of an established partnership that is continuing to grow with time. The judges recognized the maturity of their effort, awarding it a 74.667% for the win. Graves reflected on the experience of coming back to the ring after their last difficult competition.
“Today I really wanted to ride him down and let him have another good experience. Tonight I felt like it was far from being our highest score, the most precise, and certainly not our most powerful, but he was 100% himself tonight and that was a really good feeling,” she explained. “What we did in the Grand Prix on Thursday really paid off and it’s good to feel like I have him back knowing that I could have ridden better.”
The pair seemed back to their usual selves during the Special, which Graves has noted is a strong test for Verdades. The pair, instead of focusing on accuracy and precision, decided to reach towards a more relaxed and harmonious test to continue boosting their confidence in the ring.
Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Benetton Dream, ownd by Lövsta Stuteri, represented Sweden with excellent style, earning a 72.412% for a solid test that featured sweeping half-passes and a strong piaffe-passage tour. Vilhelmson-Silven noted that this is only the second time that the 12-year-old Hanoverian stallion has done the Special and was pleased with his performance.
“I’ve very, very pleased with my horse tonight. I’ve never had such a good feeling in the ring on him actually as we did today. He got really on when [the crowd] applauded Laura coming around the arena. He had much more power than [we] had before and it was a nice feeling. It was a nice feeling and he was going together with me in a nice way. Just a great feeling,” she said. “It was the second time that we’ve done the Special and it was the highest score that we’ve gotten so I’m happy. He got a little bit difficult when we did the trot extensions, especially when he’s that hot. He stumbled a bit because he went for too much, but other than that it was a good feeling.”
She reflected on the time it has taken to establish a partnership with her stallion, that came from an active breeding career in Germany and maintains a full studbook at Lövsta Stuteri in Sweden. She explained, “I had him here two years ago. He came from Germany and was a breeding stallion so he may seem a little bit further behind in his training for his age. He’s been breeding a lot in Sweden too, so he’s had double work. This year we’re going to decrease the breeding so that I can focus on showing him a little bit more.”
“He has a great feeling, but he’s a big horse and a stallion, so for sure he gets a little bit nervous and that can show in many ways, but that’s why I was happy with today because he wanted to go on my aids,” she commented. “We’ve been working with a lot of different things, but really most to get him stronger so that he can perform the movements but also getting him to want to work with me, not to have to put pressure on him to do it by himself. He’s really getting together with me and that’s the great feeling with him. That takes time and that’s what it takes to build confidence and get to know them.”