Monday, May. 20, 2024

BeSe Is Best At Zada Enterprises LLC WEF Dressage Classic

Cathy Morelli earns an emotional victory in Florida.

Just competing at the Zada Enterprises LLC WEF Dressage Classic was a victory for Cathy Morelli. Winning the Grand Prix Special was icing on the cake.


Cathy Morelli earns an emotional victory in Florida.

Just competing at the Zada Enterprises LLC WEF Dressage Classic was a victory for Cathy Morelli. Winning the Grand Prix Special was icing on the cake.

“It was very emotional, because last year I couldn’t go to this show because I was having a double mastectomy for breast cancer,” Morelli said. “But I just had my check-up last month, and I think everything is good. I was just blessed that I was able to be out there. Last year I didn’t get to do very much at all.”

Morelli rode her BeSe to a score of 67.08 percent to take the Special, held during the CDI, March 20-23 in Wellington, Fla. “The horse feels fantastic,” she said. “He’s a horse I could never push too fast because he’s very sensitive and he could be volatile. So, I’ve always had to take things at his pace.”

Not only was Morelli thrilled to show BeSe, she also got to ride in the Challenge of the Americas on March 8. The freestyle and quadrille exhibition benefited the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Morelli said BeSe, a Dutch Warmblood gelding by Flemmingh, somtimes tries too hard and gets himself confused. “It was always difficult to know just how much to push and when not to push. I think he’s one of the most difficult horses I’ve ever had to ride in that sense,” she said.

Morelli hopes to qualify for the U.S. Equestrian Federation Festival of Champions in California in June. If she does so, she’ll continue her consistent record of attendance at the national championships.

“I would like to try to go, but you know how expensive everything is,” said Morelli. The Festival of Champions is usually a hometown event for Morelli, of Bedminster, N.J., but this year the competition traditionally held at Gladstone, N.J., will be in California and will host the Olympic Selection Trials.

Exceptional Students

Shelly Francis and Dominion also had a super Easter weekend, winning both the CDI Prix St. Georges (67.50%) and Intermediaire I (67.25). Pat Stempel originally bought the 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding to ride herself. She and Francis had gone on a buying trip to Europe four years ago looking for a horse for Francis, but what they found was Dominion.


“When Shelly rode him, she told me, ‘This isn’t the horse for me but he’d be wonderful for you.’ I’m an amateur rider, and Shelly thought Dominion was just really, really quiet,” Stempel said.

Zada WEF Tidbits

  • Cathy Morelli’s spectacular Easter weekend continued when she rode BW Callista to three first level wins. The Oldenburg mare, owned by Leslie Valente, won the USEF/ Markel  4-Year-Old Young Horse National Championships in 2006 with Tami Glover aboard.
  • Morelli wasn’t the only one from her barn to have a great show. Her working student, Jennifer Griger, also showed well. She rode Valentino to second behind Morelli and BW Callista in open first level, test 1, and then guided Leopold, a 7-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Darenda Sheridan, to three training level wins. “I’ve been working with the horse  since last May and I love him. He really tries hard, and he has a great attitude about everything,” Griger said of Leopold. The gelding didn’t start serious training until he was 5, and while Sheridan will take over much of the riding after Morelli and Griger return to their home base in New Jersey, Griger is hopeful that she’ll still be part of the gelding’s

She bought him thinking that if she didn’t like the horse, she could always sell him. She then left the Hanoverian gelding by Donnerschvee in Francis’ hands for training. “And before you know it, Shelly calls me and said, ‘You know, this horse has more of an engine than I thought.’ And the more she trained him, the more that engine came out. It just gives me chills now to see him,” Stempel said. Stempel then made the decision to have Francis keep the ride “just to see how far he could go.”

Francis expects to start Dominion at Grand Prix next year. “He’s a real powerful horse that really has energy. He’s not dull. A lot of big horses are dull, but he’s not,” she said.

Passionelle Comes Out Of Her Shell

Lisa Wilcox showed off a new mount by winning the an FEI Test of Choice class. She rode Passionelle to a 74.50 percent riding the Prix St. Georges test. Wilcox was rather surprised at her score.

“I felt like I had a good ride, but I would have had myself at about 70, especially since I made a mistake in the threes. But Passionelle had excellent walk pirouettes that earned 8s. All the other things she did were accurate and clear so I guess that made up for our botch in the threes,” Wilcox said.

The 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Jazz arrived in Wilcox’s barn last year for training and was for sale when she arrived. “She was a handful, but she was a lot of fun. She was a little bit of a diva and didn’t necessarily want to work with you. But there was something about her character that I liked, as well as her gaits and expression,” Wilcox said.

She started showing Passionelle at fourth level and discovered that the judges really liked her. “She can be naughty, but she’s very much a presence in the arena. I really enjoy the challenge of her,” Wilcox said.


Wilcox and her friend Gigi Cunliffe now own the mare. They have been friends for years and were looking for the right horse to purchase together. Passionelle was a perfect opportunity because Wilcox had months to work with her before they made their decision to buy. And once she had started with the mare, Wilcox was certain it was a challenge she’d enjoy.

“I wanted to get her to come out of herself. You’d go to her stall and she’d have the ears pinned back. There was something so comical about her character, and I thought, ‘There’s something special in here, it just needs to be nurtured.’ She’s not a horse for anybody. You don’t just get on her and go. The challenge spoke to me, and it’s been fun to watch her turn around and like what she’s doing. And now her ears are forward when you come into the stall. She seems to enjoy her life. And once she learns, she really learns,” Wilcox said.

Ultimately, Wilcox hopes to aim Passionelle for the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, but for now, the mare is taking a backseat to Naomi, with whom Wilcox is going for a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic dressage team. She and Naomi finished third in the CDI Grand Prix with a score of 67.00 percent. To keep Passionelle on track, Wilcox does take her along with Naomi to shows and on training trips, which included taking the mare to Germany in the fall for training.

The Canadian Ladies Face Off

Canadians Jacqueline Brooks and Ashley Holzer duked it out in the Grand Prix and Grand Prix freestyle, battling for scores to vault them onto the Canadian Olympic team. Holzer reigned supreme on Pop Art, winning both the Grand Prix and freestyle, but Brooks was hot on her heels with Gran Gesto.

“Our selection criteria is based on a score average,” Brooks said. “The scores at the Wellington CDI really helped me because I was able to drop a score from last year so that all the scores I’m using for my average are now above 67 percent, the minimum required.”

Holzer’s position on the Canadian Olympic Dressage Team is essentially guaranteed. Brooks’ position, however, is not, but she’s feeling much more secure, especially after earning a 72.20 percent in the Grand Prix freestyle.

“I’ll pretty much have to keep an eye on the other riders and their averages and just try to stay in the top three in our country,” she said. “If somebody has a great Grand Prix and gets a high score, it could really change the average. It gets tricky, so you have to keep your eye on what everybody else is doing and also bear in mind what would be the best plan for your horse going into the Olympics. You don’t want to be campaigning and driving all over the place right before Hong Kong just to chase scores. So, you want to have a shot at going, but you also have to save your horse.”

As excited as she was about her score in the Grand Prix freestyle, Brooks was not exactly surprised. “I was optimistic going into this weekend because the season has gone so well,” she said. “He really has done a nice steady rise through the whole season.”

Lynndee Kemmet




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