Laura Graves Posts Highest Ever AGDF Score in Week Three at AGDF

Laura Graves and Verdades comfortably captured the FEI World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle presented by US P.R.E. Association with a mesmerizing performance on her own and Curt Maes’ 2016 Rio Olympic team bronze medallist, Verdades. The pair’s emphatic 84.675% is the best score ever given at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) — an annual 12-week dressage circuit at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

The USA’s Laura Graves en route to the highest score ever awarded at the AGDF — 84.675%.Photo credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Ranked fourth in the world, Graves and Verdades’ floorplan exudes complexity, and includes passage half-pass, two-time changes on a curve melting into one-times and ultra-steep trot half-passes.
“He is such a hot horse that I rode him three times today,” said Graves, 30, who trains with Debbie MacDonald. “We brought him out at lunch time and with the wind he was a little crazy and we were a little concerned as we know what he can be like. But I am excited about this score — and the score from the grand prix [79.63%].”

Laura Graves and Verdades in their winning presentation with Allyn Mann of Adequan®; judge at C Janet Foy; groom/co-owner Curt Maes; Bill Taylor, Board of Directors of US P.R.E.; Kim Van Kampen, President of US P.R.E.; Iganacio Candau, Executive Committee Member of ANCCE; and Manolo González, Secretary General of ANCCE.Photo credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Graves crafted the test, which carries a high degree of difficulty, for the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy when she was unexpectedly selected.

“I was thrown into the fish tank that year, so I studied all the other riders’ floorplans. And the music comes from Rudy, a football movie about an underdog kid,” said Graves, who admitted that she had actually arrived at the show without her music and had to have a new copy burned.
Although this was their third highest score ever, Graves will be altering the floorplan ahead of the CDI5* AGDF show (February 8-11).
“He’s such a clever horse that he guesses what’s going to happen, which is why we’re going to change it,” she explained.
The podium order was unchanged from the previous day’s grand prix: Sweden’s seven-time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén filled second on Lövsta Stuteri’s 15-year-old gelding Paridon Magi (by Don Primero) with 79.05%, while home rider Shelly Francis partnered Patricia Stempel’s ever-improving 14-year-old Danilo, by De Niro, to third place with 76.15%.
Vilhelmson Silfvén had to ride in one of the rain squalls that passed over.
“Magi felt extremely electric, and it’s hard to ride outside when there’s a lot of wind — the rain is okay — but generally the test felt really good. He’s a fun horse to ride in the freestyle because you can do difficult things on him,” she said.

Paridon Magi produces another top notch performance under Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén.Photo credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Francis said: “I’m so happy with my horse; he’s getting much more honest in there. He’s hot, but he’s now using the hot to come to work with me. We had a little mistake in the one tempis, but he came right back to me.”

All three riders are aiming to qualify for the FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Paris in April and, ultimately, the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon in September.
American judge Janet Foy, who was presiding from C, said: “Two of us judges here are also judging at the World Cup final — plus we’ve done other qualifiers in Europe — and these top three rides were wonderful and would fit right in in Paris.”

During the freestyle break, Danish Olympic rider Andreas Helgstrand — who has recently set up a sales barn in Wellington — gave a masterclass for spectators featuring PRE horses. American under-25 rider Kerrigan Gluch and Danish team

Shelly Francis (USA) is pleased with Danilo’s maturity in the ring to finish third.Photo credit: ©SusanJStickle.

member Mikala Münter were the test riders, with Münter riding 73-year-old Janne Rumbough’s grey international grand prix horse Junior ahead of his imminent retirement.

Heather Blitz (USA) bolstered Praestemarkens Quatero’s 2018 resumé further by landing the day’s Prix St Georges CDI3* class, presented by Triple Crown Nutrition, adding to their two small tour wins in week one of the 2018 AGDF. In this class, Blitz was the only rider to crack 70%, scoring 70.324% on her own nine-year-old Danish warmblood by Quaterback. The combination boasts six wins from their seven CDI small tour starts.
Two judges had the second-placed Norwegian combination of Alexandra Gamlemshaug Andresen and her own nine-year-old Empire B (by Sting x OO Seven) as the winners. This promising duo were stepping out into senior international ranks for the first time, having been on the youth circuit, culminating in the European Championships for young riders in August in Roosendaal, France. Andresen, who is just 21, scored 69.676%.
British rider Susan Pape’s Prix St Georges CDI1* winner Harmony’s Eclectisch has an equally sparse competition history, but roared to victory with a final total of 69.529%, including a high score from the M judge, Janet Foy, who awarded 74.265%.

Susan Pape’s new ride, Harmony’s Eclectisch, captures the Prix St Georges CDI1*.Photo credit: ©SusanJStickle.

The nine-year-old black licensed stallion by Zenon x Olivi was acquired in November by American dressage sponsor Leslie Malone of Harmony Sport Horses, having previously been owned by Andreas Helgstrand, among others.

Place, rider, nationality, horse, horse information: judge E%, judge H%, judge C%, judge M%, judge B%, total
FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIW, presented by US P.R.E. Association
E, Henning Lehrmann (GER); H, Irina Maknami (RUS); C, Janet Foy (USA); M, Mariano Santos (ESP); B, Magnus Ringmark (SWE)
  1. Laura Graves (USA) on Verdades, her own and Curt Maes’ 16yo KWPN gelding by Florett As x Goya: 82, 85.25, 84.875, 85.25, 86, 84.675%.
  2. Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén (SWE) on Paridon Magi, Lövsta Stuteri’s 15yo Swedish warmblood gelding by Don Primero x Napoleon 625: 80, 80.5, 76.125, 78.125, 80.5, 79.05%.
  3. Shelly Francis (USA) on Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14yo Hanoverian gelding by De Niro x Andiamo: 78.125, 77.375, 75.5, 74.25, 75.5, 76.15%.
  4. Brittany Fraser (CAN) on All In, her own 13yo KWPN gelding by Tango x Damiro: 75.125, 76.75, 75.125, 76.125, 75.125, 75.65%.
  5. Ashley Holzer (USA) on Havanna 145, Diane Fellows’ 11yo Hanoverian mare by Hochadel x Rodgau: 73.375, 76.125, 72.875, 76.125, 74.625, 74.625%.
  6. Yvonne Losos De Muñiz (DOM) on Foco Loco-W, her own 13yo Belgian warmblood gelding by Sierappel x Wendekreis: 74.75, 73.375, 74.5, 73.625, 75.375, 74.325%.
  7. Belinda Trussell (CAN) on Tattoo 15, her own 15yo Westfalian gelding by Tuareg x Ramiro’s Son: 73.625, 73.5, 72.875, 72.375, 72.75, 73.025%.
  8. P.J. Rizvi (USA) on Breaking Dawn, her own 17yo KWPN gelding by Akribori x Ronald: 71.25, 72.75, 73, 72.25, 73.125, 72.475%.