April 15, 2023 – Ocala, Fla. – Competition continued on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at the World Equestrian Center April Dressage CDI3* with classes of all levels for international and national riders. Held at World Equestrian Center – Ocala (WEC), the show sponsored by Hampton Green Farm and Discover Dressageconcludes on Sunday, April 16. Anna Marek (USA) and Firefly, owned by Janet Simile, led the lap of honor once again on Saturday, this time in the Grand Prix Special CDI3*.
Marek and Firefly, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Briar Junior x OO Seven, improved on their performance once again by scoring a personal best of 74.468%. Marek felt that Firefly’s strength in the passage is what helped them earn that score. The judges – Sandra Hotz (USA), Sandra Andrea Smith (ARG), Cesar Torrente (COL), Kerrie Swan-Bates (AUS) and Cara Whitham (CAN) – agreed, giving scores of eight on many of the passage movements.
While Marek had been focusing on the Grand Prix Freestyle this winter for FEI World Cup™ scores, her move to the Special for this CDI highlights “some of the things he does very well,” she said. “We have been working on the tempo, rhythm and being able to have that expression and energy. With that they can take a misstep or lose their balance, but he did it the same the entire time. It was an awesome feeling. I just have to give him a little reminder about something or tell him I want something a little better, and he tries so hard.
“What was crazy is that we made a couple of mistakes today,” she continued. “They were mistakes that we haven’t made before, so to get that score was incredible.”
Marek plans to return to WEC for the World Equestrian Center May Dressage CDI3*.
Katie Duerrhammer (USA) and Paxton, a 12-year-old Westphalian gelding by Dante Weltino OLD x Don Marco 3 owned by Kylee Lourie, stepped up into second place after a third-place finish on Friday. Duerrhammer works with U.S. Olympic silver medalist Adrienne Lyle, and between them they brought students and nine horses to this week’s show.
Paxton’s score of 73.213% was near a personal best, and Duerrhammer felt that the hot Florida weather may have helped in Saturday’s test.
“I think the warm weather helped because we always have too much energy, so if it’s a little hot that usually works out in my benefit,” explained Duerrhammer. “It’s been a busy week. So, I felt the heat today, but it benefitted him.”
This is only Paxton’s second year competing at the grand prix level, and Duerrhammer is still figuring out what system works best for the sensitive gelding.
“For some reason he finds this stadium extremely exciting,” she said. “It was a great learning experience. We started at the beginning of the week with way too much energy and not enough relaxation. We tailored his program over the weekend and to end today close to our personal best is very exciting.”
Third place went to Ashley Holzer (USA) and Hansel, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Blue Hors Don Olymbrio x Metall owned by P.J. Rizvi, with a score of 72.638%.
Holzer also came out on top in the Intermediate A CDI2* with Bliss, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare by Bordeaux 28 x Likoto xx that she owns. Holzer, along with second and third place, all scored personal bests, with Bliss receiving 72.843%. Denielle Gallagher (CAN) and Come Back de Massa, an 11-year-old Pure Race Lusitanienne gelding by Galopin de la Font x Quixote SDS owned by Gallagher and Ellen Lazarus, were second with 69.020%. Jennifer Williams (USA) rode Quantaris, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Quarterline x Sir Donnerhall owned by Oded Shimoni, to third place and 68.833%.
The World Equestrian Center April Dressage CDI3* concludes on Sunday, April 16. Highlight classes include the Intermediate II CDI2* at 8:45 a.m. and the Intermediate I Freestyle CDI1* at 10:20 a.m. For more information, visit www.wec.net.