Ocala, FL – International dressage competition continued on Saturday, December 9, 2023, at the World Equestrian Center (WEC) December Dressage CDI-W sponsored by Hampton Green Farm and Discover Dressage. Anna Marek (USA) and Fire Fly, owned by Janet Simile, rode to the top of the class in the Grand Prix Special CDI3*. One day of competition remains on Sunday, December 10, for the WEC December Dressage show, which hosts Fédération Equestre International (FEI) and USEF/USDF-rated classes.
Marek and Fire Fly, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Briar Junior x OO Seven scored 71.489% for the win from the judge’s panel of Michael Osinski, Clive Halsall, William Warren, Carlos Lopes and Cesar Torrente. Friday’s grand prix class was the first foray back into the competition arena for the pair since they won team gold and individual bronze at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, following quarantine when they returned to the U.S. and time off for “Fred.”
“When he came back, he had a week out in the field with his buddy and I just left him alone and let him remember that he was a horse again,” explained Marek. “He didn’t really lose any fitness from making such a big trip. I was so proud of him on that trip. We missed the November CDI because we hadn’t been back for that long, and I hadn’t been riding the other horses, so we aimed at doing this one, bringing him back into training and working on a few things since Chile. We were trying to have those rides that I had there, here.”
Marek and Fire Fly were second in Friday’s Grand Prix CDI3*, but Marek wanted to improve on her performance in the Special.
“I made some expensive mistakes, but overall, I was really happy with how he went,” she said. “I was just bummed with myself that I made mistakes.”
For the Special warm-up, Marek and her trainer Anne Gribbons focused on what small improvements were needed before heading into the show ring while also taking the change in weather from day one to two into consideration.
“I was a little concerned because it’s so much warmer today than it has been the rest of the week. I was actually more concerned about myself than him because he’s such a hot horse,” she laughed. “I was really happy that we showed so much energy even though we had a pretty good warm-up.
“We touched on a little bit of everything,” noted Marek of her warm-up. “Things that Anne didn’t like about yesterday’s test, she wanted to make sure I practiced it and knew exactly how to ride it. All of those things that she wanted me to do, we were able to accomplish in there. I had the ride that I knew we could have. I was really happy with my ride today.”
Jan Ebeling and Jubi’s Tenacity, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding by Tailormade Temptation x Blue Hors Don Schufro owned by Ann Romney, finished in second place with a score of 70.617%. With a personal best score of 70.575%, Ellesse Gundersen (USA) and Quintessential 4, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Quaterback 6 x Cordoba owned by Gundersen, Henrik Gundersen, and Marcia Radosevich, placed third.
Taking over the ride from her friend Benjamin Ebeling and his father Jan – her trainer – before that, Siena Harris-Gissler (USA) piloted Status Royal OLD, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Statesman OLD x Rubin Royal OLD, to the win and a personal best score of 66.564% in the Grand Prix 16-25 CDIU25. Having purchased the horse just a few months ago as her Under 25 mount, the pair have now recorded their third win together.
The World Equestrian Center December Dressage CDI-W concludes on Sunday, December 10, with FEI classes for Amateurs and Juniors, as well as the Intermediate I Freestyle CDI1* at 9:20 a.m. and the Final Test for Six-Year-Olds CDIYH. For more information, visit www.wec.net.