Danish rider Lars Petersen and his mount Mariett won the CDI-W Grand Prix freestyle on Jan. 24 during the third week of competition at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Petersen rode Marcia Pepper's 16-year-old Danish Warmblood mare to first place with 77.45 percent.
Second place went to Canada's Diane Creech and Devon L. The pair finished on a 73.17 percent. Denmark’s Mikala Munter Gundersen rounded out the top three with My Lady after receiving a score of 72.07 percent. The FEI World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix freestyle was the feature event of the third week of competition at the AGDF, and chilly weather and a schedule adjustment didn't detract from a phenomenal evening of dressage competition.
"Competition was stellar, the horses were beautiful, [and] the riding was exquisite," said Allyn Mann of Adequan.
Mann was excited to see the AGDF continuing to flourish, especially under new Sports Director Thomas Baur's expertise. "As far as this year versus previous years, I think we've already exceeded expectations. Thomas is just continuing to do wonderful things to make each of these events a special evening. I would expect that it's only going to get better and the competition more fierce because I think that's what keeps each [rider] going, right? You want to get to the top rung on the ladder," Mann said.
The rider at the top of that ladder has often been Petersen with Mariett, and after finishing second with the mare during the CDI-W during AGDF 1, Petersen was pleased to see her getting back in the swing of things.
"That was the first show since [Dressage at] Devon [Pa., in September]. Now we have one show with a little bit to practice. When you're on a roll it always gets a bit easier. I think that's the biggest thing. Also for her, she was in [this ring] before, and she was more tense the first show. I think it's a combination of a lot of things, [but] the main thing is that we showed two weeks ago and now we do it again," Petersen explained.
Of Mariett's performance on Friday evening, Petersen said, "I thought she was really good today. I had a very difficult test, high difficulty with my changes and all my transitions from trot to passage. She was with me today."
Second place finisher Creech debuted a new freestyle routine featuring Capital City's hit song "Safe and Sound." Creech's music was produced by Karen Robinson, who Creech has worked with before.
"We've always liked working with each other. It's not so easy to find the right music for your horse," she said. "It needs to suit the temperament and the movement, and I need to like it, and he needs to like it. Those are a lot of things to mix into it. It needs to be happy music, and I like it to be a little bit familiar to people."
The most important thing to Creech is that Devon L takes to the music, which he appears to be doing.
Gundersen and My Lady put on another good show, placing third for the second time in the CDI-W Grand Prix freestyle. Gundersen was very happy with her horse's performance, but admitted she committed a few errors that kept them from the top prize.
"She has had some nice consistency in her test. Tonight, she got a little bit hot for me, and I got a little behind the music, so I was chasing to catch up with the music a bit, and I got some mistakes because of that. Those were all mine. She really paid attention to me even though she was hot,” Gundersen said.
As for giving Petersen a run for his money, Gundersen says it will all come together in a few weeks at the AGDF 5 CDI****.
"I think in two weeks, we're going to get Lars. At least we'll try!" she laughed.