Michelle Gibson is looking good this season, very good as she piloted Lex Barker to the win in the Prix St. Georges at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI***/Y in Loxahatchee, Fla.
The pair faced tough competition in the class of 29, but the Olympian and her German Hanoverian looked cool and composed as they laid down a solid test for a 70.55 percent.
Lex Barker, a big flashy chestnut, made the test look easy, seeming to slow down and float as he went into his extended paces, and handling the more difficult elements of the test with no visible signs of tension.
Following Gibson was another Olympian, Ashley Holzer aboard Pop Art. The Canadian rider and the Dutch Warmblood made it a close thing, scoring 70.01 percent. The definition of a flashy mover, Pop Art did not disappoint, putting in an accurate and forward test.
Riding second-to-last in the line-up, Michael Shondel must not have been watching the tests before him, because he turned left instead of right at C. But like a true professional, he put that behind him and went on to ride a lovely test, scoring 69.10 percent aboard Wallaby, which was good enough for third place in the Prix St. Georges.
As everyone was brought back in to receive their ribbons, the electricity all over the show grounds suddenly went out. The staff was able to run the PA system from a generator, but announcer Brian O’Connor flatly refused to sing the national anthem for Gibson so she did her victory gallop amid cheers and clapping instead.
The awards ceremony was something that Cesar Parra was not interested in participating in after he won the Intermediaire II class in the CDI. His horse was so frightened during the victory gallop for the Prix St. Georges that he was worried he wouldn’t be able to get him into the ring for his own test. These fears proved unfounded as Parra had a beautiful accurate ride aboard Horses Unlimited’s Leonberg. They scored 68.97 percent leading their division by more than three points. Jacqueline Brooks and Gran Gesto were second (66.92%).
When Parra did have to come back in for the ceremony he borrowed stablemate “Pickle” hoping for a more relaxed parade. But Pickle also gave the Colombian some excitement, doing a bit of airs above the ground before leading off the gallop.
Three young riders competed in the FEI Young Rider team test. Emily Andon led the group aboard Wendolin (63.15%). Jessica Kissel and Numberique were second (61.42%) and Meghan McKoy and Cavalier finished third (58.22%).
They too got to share the awards ceremony blues, when two of the three took off towards the stabling area when the music blared over the loudspeaker for the Intermediaire II gallop. They may have been the only ones who weren’t pleased that the power had returned!
The tests were judged by Natalie Lamping, Hanne Valentin, Uwe Mechlem, Stephen Clarke and Jessica Ransehousen.