Lars Petersen (DEN) and Mariett won yet another “Friday Night Stars” FEI Grand Prix Freestyle at the 2015 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), this time in the CDI 5* competition presented by Diamante Farms. Petersen and Mariett scored a 79.175% for victory. Steffen Peters (USA) and Legolas 92 placed second with a 76.200% and Mikala Gundersen (DEN) and My Lady came in third scoring a 75.725%, all riding in front of a completely packed crowd, the biggest audience in history at an AGDF event.
Nearly a personal best for the duo, Petersen and Mariett produced a test that was flawless and fluid, a routine result for the pair’s performances so far in 2015. “Tonight was a very good feeling. I think Mariett actually liked that the atmosphere was so big and she knows when people are watching. I thought this was one of my best freestyles on her ever,” commented Petersen.
Legolas 92 was excited in the electric atmosphere and Peters commented on what it was like to try and keep the gelding relaxed, soft, and together, “Tonight his energy was a little bit more controlled than yesterday, which was the goal, and that is a good thing. This is good experience for him. If we qualify for the World Cup, that arena will be (even) bigger and more difficult than this one.”
Gundersen, who has been hot on the heels of her Danish teammate Petersen this entire season, was pleased with her continued improvement on My Lady so far. “I love going down the centerline. It is my favorite part of the test. She gets so big and once she hears that music start to play, it just gets her going. The further we get down the centerline, the passage just continues to get bigger and bigger, and she’s always so on it when the music starts,” said Gundersen when describing how it feels to enter the ring on a Friday night.
Judge at C, Lilo Fore, was truly excited about the entire class of Grand Prix Freestyles tonight and was eager to express to the riders how impressed the judges were with the quality of performances displayed. “I think the horses in this class were absolutely top quality and also I think some of the music which these horses now have is very exciting,” she commented. “When you’re sitting in the judge’s stand and you’re tapping your foot and going with the music, you can only imagine what the audience is doing. I think that is a really good sign and the horses we saw tonight were absolutely exceptional. When you think about the entire class, nearly everyone was above a 70% and that is a wonderful step in the right direction for the sport here.”
Devon Kane and Kevin Kohmann both joined the press conference as representatives of the Week 5 CDI 5* sponsors, Diamante Farms. “You couldn’t have asked for a better crowd, a better competitor list, a better venue. It really doesn’t get much better than this,” said Kane, who also competed in the class scoring a 70.700% aboard Destiny. “A few years ago this didn’t even exist, it was just a dream. To actually have it here and have the sponsorship money driving people to want to be here and the incredible quality of competition, it is an unbelievable dream come true. Kohmann mirrored Kane’s response, adding that nights like these will continue to draw more international presence at the show in the future and will only strengthen the sport here in the U.S.
Earlier in the day, Christoph Koschel (GER) and Rostropowitsch NRW finished first on a 75.100% in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty. The duo put together a lovely test during the horse’s first competition ever in the United States.
The horse arrived in Florida in mid-January and suffered an untimely spider-bite upon his arrival, which led to Koschel giving him a few more weeks off than previously planned. “When I came into the stable, it looked awful to be honest. It has healed great and we’ve been taking very good care of it, so he is good to go now,” Koschel explained.
As for their test, “Rusty” put together a lovely freestyle considering the pair hadn’t had much time to practice the routine. “He may have lacked a little bit of conditioning this week from being out for the spider bite, but I’m happy with the test,” said Koschel. “We had a few mistakes in the canter tour, a small mistake in our one-tempis, but he was very nice and in front of the leg the entire time. I really liked the ride.”
The delay to the start of their AGDF season will not affect the rest of their plans at circuit, and Koschel will bring “Rusty” back in two weeks for the FEI CDI 4*/3* at AGDF 7. The horse is a staple in Koschel’s string of competitive mounts, which he attests to the horse’s incredible personality. “He’s a very sweet horse, a bit like a big dog to be honest, which you wouldn’t normally expect from a Grand Prix horse. The kids play with him in the stall when he lies down. He is just so well-behaved,” he related.