Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 21
Katherine Bateson-Chandler’s teeth were chattering when she entered the press conference following her CDI5* Grand Prix freestyle win on Friday night with Alcazar. She’s ridden in all weather extremes, from the coldest of colds to the hottest of hots, but rarely has she been tested by both in 24 hours.
“Yesterday, I don’t think I’ve ever been that hot before, and today, I don’t think I’ve ever come out of a test still being cold,” said Bateson-Chandler. “We had, I have to say, the most extreme differences. So for the horses, it was challenging. And for us not knowing, people kept coming back, ‘Oh, this is blowing everywhere. Oh, there’s a bag on the cameras’–you’re going in with horror!
“Two or three years ago, [Alcazar] used to have a real issue with anything that moved and [things] blowing; he’s a little bit of a spook that way,” she added. “He’s not a spooky horse, but he’s a little funny about things moving. He went in there and didn’t look at anything and won the class.”
The 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contango—Polina, Ferro) was on his best behavior Friday night, and Bateson-Chandler rode him to a winning 76.10 percent as the last combination in the order-of-go. Carl Hester, Bateson-Chandler’s trainer, was in the crowd to congratulate her.
“He was very happy,” said Chandler. “He told me to sit back and use my leg, so I tried to sit back and use my leg, so that made him happy.”
Yvonne Losos de Muñiz of the Dominican Republic and Aquamarijn finished second, and Spain’s Juan Matute Guimon and Don Diego finished third.
Harada Gets The Job Done
On the cusp of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan’s Kiichi Harada came to Wellington with one goal in mind: Do well enough to qualify for the Olympic selection shows in Europe. Following Thursday’s win in the CDI3* Grand Prix for the freestyle, Harada did just that on Friday night, sealing the deal in the CDI3* Grand Prix freestyle with his victory under the lights with Egistar.
“To hear the Japanese anthem here in the United States is amazing; that’s just surreal,” said Lauren McNabb, Harada’s groom. “Of course, to represent your country is everything. And to do it with such a special horse means a lot.”
The 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Cabochon—Gudaula, Kaiserstern xx) began competing internationally with Harada in 2015, and they attended the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as individual representatives of Japan. In 2018, they went to their first FEI World Equestrian Games in Mill Spring, North Carolina.
“He’s a character,” said McNabb. “He wants to be No. 1, a very special horse, a really hard worker. He wants to be the center of attention and wants all of the time and all of the attention on him, which I understand.
“He’s got a good temperament; he’s well behaved when he knows he needs to go to work, and he doesn’t let the environment affect him,” she added. “He’s very much a warhorse because he’ll just do it. He’s solid in that way.”
Harada doesn’t speak much English, though the smile that plastered across his face after winning the freestyle with Egistar spoke volumes.
“I’m very happy,” Harada said in the press conference. “So much excitement!”
Australia’s Kelly Layne and Samhitas finished second, with Ashley Holzer and Radondo closing out the podium in third.
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