Tina Konyot had an ulterior motive when she packed her trailer for the Kentucky Cup CDI test event in Lexington, Ky. Of course she wanted to ride a good Grand Prix test and check out the Kentucky Horse Park—site of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
But the fact that her boyfriend, Canadian racehorse trainer Roger Attfield, was bringing 35 horses to the meet at Keeneland was the icing on the cake that convinced her to come.
“It was a win-win situation to have the opportunity to ride at this beautiful facility, to be with Roger and to enjoy the racing at Keeneland,” said Konyot. “Hopefully we’ll win a big stakes race on Thursday or Friday!”
Konyot, Palm Springs, Fla., and Stonington, Conn., has plenty of her own wins on her résumé after she and Calecto V spent the winter months tearing up the Florida Grand Prix circuit. She added another one today, April 20, with 70.68 percent in a close competition over Canadians Belinda Trussell on Anton (70.21%) and Bonny Bonnello on Pikardi (68.63%).
Calecto, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion, did his first Grand Prix a year ago in April, and Konyot, 48, is still striving for consistency in their performances.
“I’m trying to tone everything down and get it consistent and even. Once I have that confidence in my horse and myself, I’ll go back to the expression. He has more than enough expression. Just standing still he’s got a great deal of expression,” said Konyot with a laugh.
As today’s test was not mistake-free, it seems clear that Calecto can easily improve his marks.
“I overrode one pirouette today, which cost me some points. My halt to reinback was a little bit too close to the rail, so I caught the rail in the reinback. And I don’t know why I’m having this little bobble at the end where he breaks into canter. He does a very good transition from passage to piaffe to passage and then a very good transition to canter, but it doesn’t belong there. This is my third attempt, and I shall figure this out. I’m not scolding him for it, but I intend to figure out why he’s confused,” said Konyot.
Trussell’s mount Anton, a 10-year-old Saxon gelding, is also green in the Grand Prix. “We’ve been working on expression and building him in the ring. At first, I wanted to build his confidence. He can get nervy, and I wanted him to go in the ring and enjoy his job,” she said. “But that’s not good enough on the world stage. Now we’re going for brilliance.”
Trussell, of Newmarket, Ont., thanked Robert Dover for the help he’s provided as the coach for the Canadian dressage team.
“I am so proud of our two top riders today as well as the other Canadian riders that were here. I’m looking forward to the other days,” said Dover.
In fact, 10 of the 25 starters call Canada home. The third-placed rider, Bonnello, came from as far away as Calgary, Alta., although she spent the winter in Florida working with Dover.
Bonnello has returned to the top of the sport after a long break. She rode in the alternate Olympic Games in 1980 and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, but she put competing on hold in 1987 after her son was born.
However, the Canadian-bred gelding Pikardi (Pointmaker—Delaney) caught her eye in 2004, and she purchased him as a project with Jean and Bruce Bell.
Now, 59, and five years post-hip replacement, Bonnello suddenly has a WEG contender. After riding in a clinic with Christoph Hess, she worked up the courage to send a video to Dover, and he asked her to come to Florida and train over the winter.
“We’d been doing everything on our own, and it was very frustrating. I believed in my heart that there was something good in him, and I needed somebody else to see it,” said Bonnello.
The dressage test events continue tomorrow at 10 a.m. with the Grand Prix Special and conclude on Thursday night with the freestyle.
Full results can be found on www.foxvillage.com.