The experienced pair of Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE) and Don Auriello commanded attention in the Global International Ring on the first afternoon of CDI-W competition at the 2016 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) hosted at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). The duo, in their first competition since the FEI European Championships in August 2015, received a score of 76.900% for the win in the FEI Grand Prix, presented by MTICA Farm. Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades finished in second with a score of 75.540% and Canada’s own Leah Wilson Wilkins collected third place honors aboard Fabian JS. Competition at AGDF will continue tomorrow with the FEI Prix St. Georges, presented by The Axel Johnson Group, during the day and the first “Friday Night Stars” Grand Prix Freestyle presented by AMCI Group to benefit Brooke USA, beginning at 7pm. The first week of AGDF competition is sponsored by the AMCI Group to benefit Brooke USA.
Vilhelmson-Silfven and her experienced mount Don Auriello, a 2002 Hanoverian gelding (Don Davidoff x Wey o mey) owned by Lövsta Stuteri, wowed in their first performance of 2016, showcasing only a bit of what is to come for the veteran pair, who are looking to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I felt very, very good with our ride today. He felt great in the warm-up as well as yesterday. He got a bit excited when he came into the ring, and I think it’s because he hasn’t shown since the European Championships and I could feel that,” noted Vilhelmson-Silfven. “He has like five gears more so I started off a bit careful, but then as we continued he began to settle. I’m pleased, and it was a good feeling to be in the ring again.”
The duo rode in the final group of the day, which saw many of the most seasoned competitors also take their first go at competition in the New Year. Today only offered a glimmer of what is to come for the rest of the AGDF circuit, which will host seven CDIs in total. Vilhelmson-Silfven felt that she and her horse knocked off a bit of rust today and will look to improve their overall performance in the coming weeks.
“I think the power is something that I’ll look for in the future. Just to have it a bit more there on top without losing control, but I’m still very pleased with today,” she noted.
Don Auriello has graced some of the largest stages in the sport of dressage in his career with Vilhelmson-Silfven, including European Championships, World Equestrian Games, World Cup Finals, and the Olympic Games. Bringing a wealth of experience to Wellington for AGDF this year, Don Auriello will be the main mount for Vilhelmson-Silfven, who is on the quest to qualify for her seventh Olympic Games for her home country of Sweden.
“It always makes you feel good to ride an experienced horse because you already know what you have, but still it changes and when you haven’t shown in a while you really don’t know where you are until you’re in the ring again,” she explained. “He has such an extremely nice character and he wants to do his best all of the time. He’s a nice horse to compete because he always tries and it’s rare that he ever puts me into a difficult position.”
Laura Graves and Verdades took to the Global International Ring for the first time since they were crowned USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Champions at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions, presented by The Dutta Corp., at the AGDF grounds nearly a month ago, but looked as though they haven’t missed a beat. Graves and Verdades, a 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Florett AS x Liwilarda), have been dedicated to searching for “the next gear” which Graves commonly refers to, and seemed to have found it on the first day of Grand Prix competition.