Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén’s Victory at 2024 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival

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Two extraordinary riding performances from less than ideal starts snagged the top two spots in the BluCreeq Spirits CDI3* Grand Prix Special on Saturday. Both the winner Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén (SWE) and Ashley Holzer (USA) had to contend with tension but clawed back the marks during their tests from low starts. The Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL, hosts seven weeks of CDI competition and runs until March 31.

Vilhelmson Silfvén’s ride on Hyatt, Lövsta Stuteri’s mare by Apache, began with miscommunications on the first centerline, resulting in an opening trending score of 35% from the panel of five judges. By the end of her test, the big screen flashed up her final winning score of 70.596%. 

Holzer finished just 0.022 percentage points adrift of Vilhelmson Silfvén, riding PJ Rizvi’s Blue Hors Don Olymbrio son Hansel to 70.574%. The 11-year-old gelding took fright going around the edge and Holzer had to work diligently throughout the test to manage the powerful horse’s tension. Australia’s Jemma Heran posted a new personal best of 70.319% aboard her own light-footed 15-year-old San Amour mare, Saphira Royal 2. They bagged third place, meaning that the podium finishers represented three different continents.

Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén & Hyatt are presented as winners of the BluCreeq Spirits CDI3* Grand Prix Special by Cynthia Payne, Tara Stegen, and Gina Lemons. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

Vilhelmson Silfvén’s score is the highest yet with the inexperienced 12-year-old mare. This is the pair’s third big tour CDI together and only their second Grand Prix Special since sourcing Hyatt at Hof Kasselmann in Germany.  

“The entry was a bit exciting and I kinda did all the movements before the first salute because she was a little bit afraid to go in,” said Vilhelmson Silfvén, who is a regular on the AGDF winter circuit. “But she has to learn. I got a more difficult start than I expected, but I’m very pleased that I could ride without really any mistakes even though she was focussed on more than just me. She’s still so eager to do what I want, but it’s more difficult to keep her steady and in the frame that I want because she gets a little excited. 

“My hopes are big for her, but I want to take it slow and careful,” she added. “It’s a big responsibility to have such an ambitious horse and I want to treat that ambition well and give her good experiences. She is so soft and athletic and electric; she can do anything with her body.” 

Vilhelmson Silfvén is planning to campaign Hyatt in some national grand prix classes to expose her to a wide variety of competition settings and build her confidence.

“I want to give her experience and for me to learn about her, like how long to warm up, how to go in, and what to do when she does that in the ring,” explained the seven-time Olympian. “We want to make smart choices with her. I like her a lot. Developing horses like this is what I live for — it’s so fun.” 

In the Centerline Stables Intermediate I CDI1*, Frederic Wandres made it two wins from two starts on the nine-year-old Fürstenball mare Floricella, even though he has only just started riding her. With her owner Alessa Marie Maass, Floricella was part of the gold medal winning German team at the 2022 European Championships for Children in Hungary. Under Wandres, she led Friday’s Prix St. Georges at her first senior CDI. On Saturday the pair topped Saturday’s Inter I with 70.971% and were the judges’ unanimous choice from the 10 starters.

Frederic Wandres & Floricella, winners of the Centerline Stables Intermediate I CDI1*. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

Two female athletes posted personal best scores at the level with their horses to slot in behind Wandres. Spanish rider Natalia Bacariza Danguillecourt laid down 67.823% to fill second place with her own and Yeguada de Ymas’ Dhannie Ymas (Don Crusador). Australia’s Kate Kyros continued her bountiful season with a third place on her mother Heather Kyros’ Intro K, an 11-year-old Apache stallion (67.647%). 

Wandres has only ridden Floricella a handful of times as she recently arrived from Europe and is in Florida to be sold. 

Frederic Wandres & Floricella are presented as winners of the Centerline Stables Intermediate I CDI1*. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

“She’s a very lovely mare, so pretty and elegant,” said Wandres, who rides for Hof Kasselmann and is based in Wellington during season and Germany for the remainder of the year. “When she’s under saddle she really wants to present herself. She’s still a young small tour horse but she handled it pretty good. 

“I had a little mistake in the three tempis, but it was just a green mistake. She has the ability to show all the exercises very nicely, so if she doesn’t sell I’m happy to develop this very good international small tour horse — I’m still defending my number one position in the FEI small tour rankings,” added the 36-year-old, who trains daily with his partner Lars Ligus, as well as online training sessions with the German team coach, Monica Theodorescu.   

Wandres first came to AGDF when Europe shut down for Covid, but he and his team saw such tremendous improvement in the horses that they decided Wellington should be a permanent fixture on their calendar. 

“Where else in the world can you drive just nine minutes to a CDI every two weeks?” He reasoned. “And even if you don’t want to show international, you can always show national. Here you have so many options to develop your horses in a quiet way without stressing them through long drives — and the weather is beautiful. The atmosphere is big and there are a lot of spectators so they get used to everything. We get a lot of competition routine practice here, and then back in Europe we are really ready to show.”

Wandres also has his superstar grand prix horse Bluetooth with him in Florida. He plans to compete him at the CDI5* show during AGDF 10 with an eye on potential selection for the German team for the Paris Olympics this summer.

Ben Ebeling & Illuster Van De Kampert, winners of the Intermediate A CDI2*, sponsored by Donato Farms. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

Ben Ebeling stepped down a level with his long-time grand prix partner Illuster Van De Kampert for a confidence-boosting run in the Intermediate A CDI2*, sponsored by Donato Farms. ACR Enterprises’ 16-year-old Spielberg x Contango Belgian Warmblood gelding scored 67.765% to secure the winner’s rosette. The score would have been significantly higher if not for a costly startle in one piaffe that sent the horse skittering backwards, costing dearly across two sets of marks. This is the pair’s fifth consecutive year competing at AGDF.

Ben Ebeling & Illuster Van De Kampert are presented as winners of the Intermediate A CDI2*, sponsored by Donato Farms, by Jeff and Jessica Friedrich. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

Dressage competition at AGDF 5 concludes on Sunday, with the CDI1* Intermediate I Freestyle, sponsored by Centerline Stables, as well as the FEI Prix St. Georges Future Challenge, presented by Buffalo Wild Wings — and action in six further classes. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com

Click for full results from the CDI3* Grand Prix Special, sponsored by BluCreeq Spirits

Press release AGDF 2023 | Photo 1 Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén & Hyatt, winners of the BluCreeq Spirits CDI3* Grand Prix Special. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

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