Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 10
Frederic Wandres made it four wins in a row Friday night when he topped the Havensafe Farm Grand Prix freestyle CDI-W tonight aboard Bluetooth OLD, his second freestyle win of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival season. The 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Bordeaux 28—Lorena, Riccione) scored an 80.56% tonight under the lights during the feature class of AGDF 5.
When asked how it felt to be unbeatable, Wandres demurred.
“ ‘Unbeatable’ at the moment can change very quickly, so we have to be prepared that the other ones are also getting better and better,” said Wandres, who performed to a medley of dance music. “This was the second Friday night under the lights for him this season, and I really love the atmosphere. It’s always so crowded, and the people are cheering for everyone whether it’s good or not good—that’s what I really like.”
“I’m very happy,” he added. “Bluetooth gets more and more consistent now, even though there was a little mistake here or there. The technical issues are easy to fix for the future. So I’m very looking forward to what’s coming next.”
What comes next is a little up in the air.
While Friday night’s class is a qualifier for the Omaha FEI World Cup Finals, coming up April 4-8 in Nebraska, Wandres hails from the uber-competitive Western European League. Only three riders from any one country can compete, and with defending title-holder Jessica von Bredow-Werndl already guaranteed a slot, that only leaves two other invitations for Germany. Wandres is behind four other countrymen, before adding in points for Friday’s win.
Watch Wandres’ winning freestyle by clicking the photo below:
“In the end I think I see no chance that I can come point-wise in front of the other Germans,” he said. “But also in the end, you never know who makes it onto the airplane, and we are already here. We are ready for it.”
Holzer And Valentine Return To Grand Prix
Ashley Holzer was ecstatic to come second to Wandres with Valentine. This is only that mare’s fourth time competing in an international Grand Prix freestyle, and she has proven to be sensitive when the atmosphere picks up. That happened very publicly at the Blue Hors Dressage World Championship (Denmark) when Valentine came unglued in the electric environment.
“It’s known to everyone the upset we had at the World Championships, and no one was more upset than me,” said Holzer, who marked a 77.40% Friday. “A lot of people brought me a lot of alcohol afterward. To take a horse to that situation in a team event, you hope that she’s prepared, and when you feel your partner lose it mentally and lose her confidence, it’s heartbreaking as a rider and as an owner.”
Holzer stepped the mare back a level, competing at Intermediaire II in their last outing, and spent a long time at home rebuilding her confidence. This was the first show back at Grand Prix for the 13-year-old Hanoverian (Sir Donnerhall—Renaissance, Ragazzo).
“Yesterday in the Grand Prix she was really my partner again,” she said. “Tonight was a huge question mark, I’m not going to lie. This is a lot of atmosphere, and you pray to God that her PTSD doesn’t come back.”
Holzer felt the mare’s nerves in their warm-up so focused on trying to relax her before the test.
“Katherine [Bateson-Chandler] was helping me, and she’s like ‘Calmly walk, trot, walk, trot, canter,’ ” Holzer said. “We just did some nice transitions. We really didn’t do much of the Grand Prix work in the warm up. I finally felt her relax.
“[I] came in the ring and just tried to say, ‘Hey you’re my partner; you’ve got to go, we’ve got to do this together,’ ” she added, “and she slowly came more and more and more to me as the test went on.”
Sarah Tubman and her partner for Pan American individual gold, First Apple, stepped up to put in a mistake-free test for third place on a mark of 77.27%.
“The reason why we started going down this path of doing freestyles is it really brought a lot of confidence to this horse and he has fun,” she said. “He loves the crowd, he loves the nighttime. We always see a large improvement at home, and even in the other tests, after showing the freestyle.”
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