It’s safe to say that Jaqueline Brooks was shocked when she and Balmoral were awarded the blue ribbon after their Grand Prix for the freestyle test on Friday, Sept. 25, in the Dixon Oval.
“He’s my young horse,” said Brooks, Cedar Valley, Ont. “I made a few mistakes because I went, ‘Oh my god. Look at you!’ I came to the first piaffe and couldn’t stop him from doing it [even if I wanted to].”
Despite those mistakes, Brooks and the talented Balmoral (66.93%) edged out Tina Konyot and Calecto V (66.85%) by a mere .085 percent.
“He was so content and stepped up and wanted to do it,” said Brooks. “I was laughing in the test because I was having so much fun. Half way through I realized he was going so well, but it was too late because I’d already made the mistake!”
Brooks has been riding the Canadian-bred gelding for several years and has had much success at Devon with a win at nearly every level, including an Intermediaire I freestyle win in 2006. She gave the 10-year-old a year off while she was competing her other Grand Prix mount, Grand Gesto, at the Olympic Games in Hong Kong last year.
“I gave him to a friend to live in the field as a horse,” she said. “He missed a whole year of competing, so I thought he was a year behind, but in hindsight maybe it was the best thing I did for him.”
It was Balmoral’s first win at the Grand Prix level, and Brooks was excited to share it with her parents, who couldn’t make the event.
“My groom had them on my cell phone so they could listen to the national anthem,” Brooks said with a laugh. “Life is short, you have to celebrate.”
And for the Canadian dressage community, those words couldn’t have chimed with a truer tone.
On Sunday, Sept. 20, Canadian Olympic Team member Ashley Holzer lost her father, Ian Nicoll. Affectionately known as “Pops,” Nicoll was a huge supporter of both Holzer and her Canadian teammates.
“Pops was riding with me,” reflected Brooks. “When I told [Ashley] I wanted to come home for the funeral, she told me that Pops wanted me to be here, and he wanted me to win Devon. I know Pops was proud of me, and that he wanted to be here. I’m really happy I was here. There’s something greater, and tonight, I was lucky to participate in that.”
Calecto V Misses By A Nose
While Brooks laughed during her test with Balmoral, Tina Konyot cried after her ride on Calecto V.“I was crying because I was so happy,” said Konyot, North Stonington, Conn. “It’s only his fifth Grand Prix so I didn’t know what to expect.”
The powerful Danish Warmblood stallion put in an elegant performance that highlighted his strong canter work and impressive passage. A few minor mistakes in the transitions kept them from the lead, but Konyot was more than thrilled with their red ribbon.
“I rode parts of the test where I allowed my reins to let loose, and he was so comfortable and so happy,” said Konyot. “I should have stopped petting the damn horse! I must have patted him about 15 times!”
Konyot imported the 11-year-old from Denmark a little more than two years ago and has brought him up the levels herself.
“I’m a one-man band, but I have the confidence, and I believe in my training,” said Konyot. “No one wanted him, and all my friends didn’t think I’d make a Grand Prix horse out of him. But he’s going to be a grand Grand Prix horse. He’s special. I believe that.”
Todd Flettrich and Otto settled into third place after they scored a 65.83 percent. They were followed by Abrikos and Denielle Gallagher-Legri with 64.97 percent.
The Grand Prix freestyle starts tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 26, at 7:15 PM.
“It’s going to be a good fight tomorrow night,” said Brooks. “People who come tomorrow are going to see 12 great freestyles!”
Petersen And Naomi Nab Grand Prix For The Special
Lars Petersen and Naomi’s new partnership has blossomed in the Dixon Oval tonight, Friday, Sept. 25, and they left the ring decked out in blue.
“I was happy with it, [even though] I made a pretty big mistake. She jumped in my extended trot right before my passage sequence, and it was pretty expensive,” said Petersen, Wellington, Fla. “She struggles with the walk and her throughness and strength, but she gets better the more I ride her.”
Naomi, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood, had a late start to the dressage world after having a foal when she was seven, but has come into her own in the last year. Petersen is considering aiming her for the World Cup.
“The goal is to keep developing her and show her during the Florida season and then see where we go,” said Petersen. “I don’t want to make myself or anyone crazy with too much. We both have more to do still.”
Pierre St. Jacques and Lucky Tiger were nipping at Petersen’s heels until a mistake in the extended canter rattled the pair slightly.
“My ride was going well until I was going across the diagonal in the extended canter and [realized] my brakes were left at the barn,” St. Jacques, Anthony, Fla., said with a laugh.
St. Jacques has been riding the 14-year-old Danish Warmblood for 10 years, and he knows the horse inside and out.
“The mistake was definitely my fault,” he said. “I tend to be more conservative with my first ride. I wish there was a warm-up test, then I’d know where the edges are. I need to change my warm-up [tomorrow]. I didn’t do enough extensions and didn’t check the brakes, so when I got in there I didn’t have them.”
Susan Jaccoma and Wadamur finished in third with 63.95 percent after a lovely performance, and Hans Henning Dressler and Valintino settled in the fourth spot with 63.31 percent. The Grand Prix Special starts on Sunday, Sept. 27, at 11:00 a.m.
–Olympia and Dr. Cesar Parra won the Prix St. Georges with 72.45 percent over Chris Hickey and Cabana Boy with 68.68 percent. Thirty-one horses will contest the Intermediaire I starting tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 26, at 8:00 AM.
–Julia Burtt won the junior team test aboard Aaron VI with 62.79 percent over Isabelle Leibler on Dream Light (61.26%).
–Kassie Barteau and GP Raymeister added another young rider win to their collection, winning the young rider team test with 67.19 percent. Caroline Roffman and Bulgari 5 were second with 66.93. Meagan Davis, who took a nasty fall off Bentley at the North American Junior And Young Rider Championships in July, was back in the saddle to claim third with 63.97 percent.