Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades will clearly be a force to be reckoned with this season, as the duo continues to improve and impress. In just their second show back since the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) this past August, the pair scored a remarkable 76.680% in the FEI Grand Prix CDI-W 3*, presented by Today’s Equestrian and Diane and George Fellows, to start competition in the Large Tour off with a bang at Week 10 of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival. Lars Petersen (DEN) and Mariett placed second with a 72.500% and Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE) and Benetton Dream captured third receiving a 70.760%. The highlight class, “Friday Night Stars” FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, will begin tomorrow night at 7pm at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
The test was a big step in the right direction for Graves and Verdades, as they knocked their competition rust off last week at AGDF 9. “This was much better for us tonight than it was last week. I think we kind of felt like we were rookies last week, even with our experience last year,” commented Graves. “Tonight I felt like we are actually headed where we want to be, and I’m hopeful that at Nation’s Cup we will see a Grand Prix test that is even a little bit tighter.”
The pair took home the win in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle last week but still felt there was more to improve upon in the ring. “We went back home to our farm in Orlando and I, just all by myself, said, ‘Where do we get this feeling.’ I figured it out over those two days. They were necessary for me,” she explained. “I think when you know you’re confident in your own mind then you can take the advice of your trainers. When it is coming from so many different places and you’re on so many different pages, you get caught up and forget to ride.”
The pair’s test was the highest scored ride in an FEI Grand Prix this season at AGDF, and Graves hopes that consistency will continue with them for the rest of the season. “He was really with me through the half-halts today and I know that we still leave a good 5-10% in the warm-up, so there will come a day when we bring it all,” she smiled.
Lars Petersen and Mariett are veterans on the circuit this season, and the mare will get a long vacation after this weekend’s competition. “This is a long circuit, and I’m really happy with how she’s been. I’ve done a lot of shows and she is not as fresh as she was in February and she has really earned her time off,” he said. “With her getting older I need to be careful of what I do with her and make sure that we don’t do too much. You always get smarter by the end.”
Vilhelmson-Silfven had a beautiful ride aboard Benetton Dream in just the young stallion’s fourth FEI Grand Prix test to date. As she continues to work through the test, it improves and he is clearly becoming more comfortable in the ring. “I am extremely happy with him today. He’s continued to get better and better with each show. With this short week in between the two competitions I was a bit worried, but he handled it well,” she commented. “He lost a little bit of power towards the end, but that’s because he still isn’t strong enough. I couldn’t ask for anything more from him, and I don’t want to ask for anything more right now.” Vilhelmson-Silfven and her team will head back to Sweden next Wednesday and will continue to compete in Europe this summer.