May 26, 2023 – Ocala, Fla. – Julio Mendoza Loor (ECU) and Jewel’s Goldstrike repeated their winning performance in the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3* on Friday, May 26, 2023, during the WEC May Dressage CDI3* sponsored by Hampton Green Farm and Discover Dressage at World Equestrian Center – Ocala (WEC). Starting out the day, Katherine Bateson Chandler (USA) made a new partnership a winning one with Haute Couture, owned by Bateson Chandler and Jennifer Huber, in the Grand Prix for Special CDI3*. Anna Marek (USA) and her dependable mount Duvel, owned by Cynthia Davila, topped the Intermediate 1 CDI1*.
The Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3* was the highlight of Friday’s schedule and did not disappoint spectators under the lights in the WEC Grand Arena. Repeating their winning performance from the WEC April Dressage show as well as Thursday’s Grand Prix, Mendoza Loor and Jewel’s Goldstrike received a final score of 80.055% after performing to an entertaining freestyle that included music from Madonna, Rihanna, and Sia.
Mendoza Loor purchased Jewel’s Goldstrike, his own 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Bretton Woods x Watermill Scandic, in 2020 and started competing at the grand prix level in 2022. He knew right away that it would be a fruitful partnership, and it showed when they won seven of their 10 classes that year. In 2023 so far, they have won eight out of 10 classes.
“The moment that we got him he wanted to perform,” described Mendoza Loor. “He wanted to work hard, and he wanted to be my best friend. I love my horse so much.”
The pair gave a grand performance in the freestyle, excelling in the piaffe and passage. Mendoza Loor said of his test, “The pirouettes are becoming more fluid. We made a couple of mistakes tonight. In the extended canter he got a little excited, but it’s okay. He’s not a robot; he’s not a computer. Every mistake that we make, we make sure the next competition we are going to do it better. That’s my philosophy of the day; don’t be afraid to make mistakes because it’s an opportunity to learn something new.”
This was their first time competing in the WEC Grand Arena, and Mendoza Loor felt “Goldie” rise to the occasion.
Mendoza Loor stated, “He knows he’s the king. He fed off the crowd tonight. I was concentrating a lot in my ride to the music, but my wife was telling me how everyone was cheering and clapping. It was an amazing night.”
The freestyle judging panel included Kristi Wysocki (USA), Jane Weatherwax (USA), Maria Colliander (FIN), Cesar Torrente (COL) and Isobel Wessels (GBR). They awarded a score of 72.160% to Kevin Kohmann (USA) and Dünensee, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Dancier x Davignon 3 owned by Diamante Farms.
This was the first FEI freestyle for Kohmann and Dünensee together and only their eighth class as a partnership. The horse was formerly ridden by trainer Christoph Koschel and helped Germany win the 2022 FEI Nations Cup in Wellington.
“The feeling in the Grand Arena is just amazing, especially at night,” said Kohmann. “I was lucky to be last. The horse was a little bit hotter than expected, but he was still good. I’ve never really ridden the freestyle with this horse. There were a few kinks in it but I’m really happy. The owner, Terri Kane, was just crying; that’s how happy she was!”
With a personal best score of 72.125%, Patricia Ferrando (VEN) and Honnaisseur SJ, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding by Connaisseur x Jazz owned by Ferrando and Patricia Zilio, slotted into third place in their first time competing in the WEC Grand Arena.
“The piaffe was much better than the first day and more relaxed,” said Ferrando. “I think he was already settled with the venue. He was very calm in the entire performance, but the highlight is always going to be the passage.”
New Partnership Flourishes for Bateson Chandler
While Katherine Bateson Chandler has had Haute Couture in her barn for more than a year, this was only their third FEI class together and the horse’s first career FEI win. Putting together a strong mutual partnership has taken time with the 11-year-old KWPN mare by Connaisseur x IPS Krack C, but Bateson Chandler feels that it is coming together.
The pair won the Grand Prix for Special CDI3* with a score of 70.848% from the judging panel of Jane Weatherwax (USA), Debbie Rodriguez (USA), Cesar Torrente (COL), Maria Colliander (FIN) and Isobel Wessels (GBR). Second place went to Olympian Jan Ebeling (USA) with Ann Romney’s 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Jubi’s Tenacity (Tailormade Temptation x Blue Hors Don Schufro), who scored 69.935%. Katie Duerrhammer (USA) and Paxton, a 12-year-old Westphalian stallion by Dante Weltino OLD x Don Marco 3 owned by Kylee Lourie, finished third with 69.109%.
While Haute Couture, known as “Merrie” in the barn (Merrie is “mare” in Dutch), started her career with Dutch rider Dinja van Liere and competed at the 2021 European Championships in Hagen, Germany, Bateson Chandler felt that they had to regroup after their first grand prix outing in March 2022.
Bateson Chandler explained, “We threw ourselves in the deep end in the beginning, made some mistakes and now we’ve taken our time really building her back up again with my trainers and her owner, who helps me on the ground. It’s been a real team effort for sure, and it’s starting to pay off.”
Part of that building back up came from spending two months in Europe with van Liere to learn how to work better with Merrie. In Merrie’s first FEI show back, Bateson Chandler hoped that their homework would translate in the show ring.
“I was super happy with my canter work,” she said. “Sometimes I have a thing with my changes; it gets in my head a bit. I was really happy that I got all of my changes. She does beautiful pirouettes. She does everything for a really good score. It’s just me being able to bring that out in her in the moment. She’s super honest and super well-behaved. This is an incredible venue, and I knew she would really like it. She seems to be really happy here.”
Bateson Chandler and Haute Couture will compete next in Saturday morning’s Grand Prix Special CDI3*.
Marek and Duvel Top Intermediate 1 CDI1*
Familiar faces in the winner’s circle at WEC Dressage events in the small tour are Anna Marek (USA) and Duvel, a 15-year-old KWPN gelding by Florencio 2 x Metall, who topped a class of 24 entries in the Intermediate 1 CDI1*. The pair once again led the lap of honor after they received a score of 72.500% from judges Agnieszka Majewska (POL), Debbie Rodriguez (USA) and Cesar Torrente (COL).
Second place went to Nora Batchelder (USA) and Nova, an eight-year-old Oldenburg mare by Kastel’s Grand Galaxy Win x Romanov owned by Carol Glover, who scored 70.686%. With a personal best score of 69.804%, Kristin Stein (USA) and Elbrasco-L, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding by Ampère x Aktion owned by Sally Alksnis, finished third.
Duvel swept all three small tour classes in all three shows that he competed in at WEC in 2022, plus added two more wins in Wellington this past December. Showing in Wellington this winter, Duvel placed in the top five in every class. Marek and her trainer Anne Gibbons decided to give Duvel a break after he helped the U.S. win silver in the FEI Nations Cup.
“We skipped the last WEC show in April with him, and it was good idea that we did,” explained Marek, who rode Duvel to second place in Thursday’s Prix St. Georges class. “We gave him some down time and some training. He came out here, and he’s been great.”
Marek feels that Duvel is comfortable and happy at the WEC showgrounds, with spacious stalls and a horse-friendly facility. When Duvel is at home, he enjoys turnout every night, which helps him stay “fit and loose,” said Marek. Additional work walking on grass or doing light hill work keeps Duvel in shape and mentally ready for the pressure of competition days. With Duvel’s experience and training, Marek knows that he does not need a lot of preparation to compete.
“The biggest thing for me is to keep the harmony between us,” shared Marek. “He will sometimes get a little offended if I tell him what to do. A lot of it is just me trusting him that he knows his job. Today when he would start to get a little tense, I would just relax. I try not to micromanage too much. He’s so well-trained, and he knows the test so well. He is really willing to work for me. Yesterday and today, he’s been awesome.”
Marek and Duvel will continue to contest the small tour in Sunday’s Intermediate 1 Freestyle CDI1*.
The World Equestrian Center May Dressage CDI3* continues on Saturday, May 27, with the Grand Prix Special CDI3* at 8 a.m. along with a full schedule of international classes for amateurs, Under 25, juniors, young riders, children, and young horses. For more information, visit www.wec.net.