Devon, Pa., Oct. 2
You’ll have to forgive D Niro for being absent from the Grand Prix Special awards ceremony. It’s his first trip to Dressage at Devon (Pa.), and it’s been a little overwhelming.
Jacqueline Brooks rode the 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (D-Day—Alitalia, Napoleon 625) to the win in the CDI-W Grand Prix Special on Sunday afternoon (66.88%). Although the pair has only been together since March, they’ve come a long way since then.
“He was doing Prix St. Georges when I bought him in March,” Brooks said. “I only started competing him Grand Prix in August. He was obviously tense in the first few shows, and he was tense on Friday, so I said ‘OK, be tense,’ and he just killed it when I let him be.”
Brooks was fourth in Friday's qualifier for the Grand Prix on D Niro with 62.79 percent. Since then, the big gray gelding has been able to relax and settle into the swing of things at Devon.
“For him to come here, in this swirl, to focus like this, is awesome,” Brooks said. “For me to go into the training season, before Florida, with a win like this is just amazing.”
Brooks was one of the few riders who didn’t have any problems with the new FEI Olympic Grand Prix Special test. The new test, which just became mandatory yesterday, Oct. 1, 2011, for CDIs, is a shortened version that will be used at the Olympic Games. Sharon Merkel-Beattie of Canada and her horse Essence of Glory were called off course and had a lengthy discussion with the judges. Qualifier winner James Koford also went off course, though his test with Rhett was still nice enough to place second.
Brooks placed seventh on 16-year-old Gran Gesto in the Grand Prix freestyle on Saturday, but she sees D Niro as her horse for the future.
“For me to go to Florida with this kind of confidence is huge,” Brooks said. “Our focus with this horse now is the Olympics.”
Another Day, Another Victory
A horse that everyone saw in the winner's circle this weekend was Warsteiner, Heather Mason’s mount for the Intermediaire I freestyle. In his third class at Devon, Warsteiner once again beat the competition.
Watch their winning performance:
The big chestnut Dutch Warmblood gelding (Riverman—Welona, Roemer) flawlessly executed big, powerful pirouettes and made his lateral work look easy. Made even more impressive is his age: He’s only 8 and already schooling Grand Prix.
“I thought this year he would be too green and that I would just be doing Developing Horse [classes] with him,” Mason said.
Friday, Mason won the Prix St. Georges in the same company, posting a respectable score of 69.47 percent, then she followed that up by winning the Intermediaire I on Saturday with 68.60 percent. Today, Warsteiner blew both of those scores out of the water when he received a 72.85 percent. Some of this can be attributed to the atmosphere at Devon, in which Warsteiner apparently thrived.
“He was much happier here than he was at the [Collecting Gates Farm/USEF Festival of Champions (N.J.)],” Mason said. “There, he had nobody next to him, and he got really lonely. Here, he had all the horses around him so he felt more comfortable.”
Even though Warsteiner wasn’t at his happiest at the Festival of Champions in September, he did well enough to be named as an alternate for the U.S. Pan American dressage team, which will compete in Guadalajara, Mexico, starting Oct. 16.
“He had a week off after the Festival,” Mason said. “He got a week off before he went back to work before Devon, so that helped him a little.”