Devon, Pa—Sept. 28
The packed stands, and the nip in the air when the sun sets. The scent of fresh French fries wafting through the air, and the painted pumpkins. Those signs mean it’s time for the Dressage at Devon Grand Prix freestyle, a fall spectator favorite in the United States, and those who showed up hoping for a night of top sport got their wishes tonight.
In a close finish, Lars Petersen won the class aboard Mariett (76.97%), and Canada’s Ashley Holzer took second with a 76.52 percent. The two were far ahead of the rest of the 15-horse field. Tina Konyot and Calecto V accepted third on a 72.87 percent.
“These are two horses who are getting world-class scores,” said Holzer, who’s based in New York. “To get a 76 percent in this atmosphere? It speaks volumes to the lovely animals we’re riding.”
While Holzer reunited with her 2012 London Olympic Games partner specifically for this event, Mariett and Denmark’s Petersen spent the summer season competing abroad at the Danish National Championship and the Rotterdam CDI***** (the Netherlands).
“Competing abroad is always an experience, and the horse always gets better and learns from it, and I get better and learn from it,” said Petersen. “After that trip she’s developed a lot—getting stronger, getting more familiar with it, getting easier to ride.”
Petersen and Mariett, a 15-year-old Danish Warmblood (Come Back II—Zendi, Sidney) mare owned by Marcia Pepper, finished yesterday’s Grand Prix behind Holzer and Breaking Dawn. Petersen returned into the Dixon Oval determined this evening.
“Yesterday I had some mistakes,” he said. “Of course you’d like to come in and ride with no mistakes, but I thought she was pretty good to ride overall [yesterday]. I was very happy with her tonight.”
Mariett’s freestyle, which uses a mixture of circus and cartoon music, also has a very high degree of difficulty, with one and two tempis on curved lines, going straight from twos to ones, steep half-passes in trot and canter and double pirouettes.
Holzer had to work to keep the lid on “Edward’s” enthusiasm at moments tonight, but she admitted the effort was much more restrained than their last freestyle together, the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI***** (Fla.) in April.
“Did you see us [in Florida]? I almost left the ring about six times,” she said. “I had tension that Lars maybe didn’t have tonight. But I was thrilled with my horse. To stand at the prize-giving like he did, with the music blaring, that’s a huge step for that horse.”
And Petersen agreed his mare was unaffacted by the cheering crowds and live-wire atmosphere of the ring.
“She’s almost the same in there as she is in warm-up,” he said.
“I’ve seen both of these horses develop of the years, and they were dragons in the beginning,” added Axel Steiner, FEI five-star judge and president of the ground jury for the freestyle. “For me, having seen them both for such a long time, it’s nice to see them progress in this way.”
Tonight’s freestyle marked the end of an era for Steiner, 72, who must retire from FEI judging this year because of an age rule. Dressage at Devon is the last CDI he’s judging in the United States.
Edward now goes back to his owner P.J. Rizvi, and Petersen is looking towards the Florida CDI season with Mariett.
Full Dressage at Devon Grand Prix CDI-W freestyle results available online.