Loxahatchee, FL - The Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W/Y once again was the tournament of champions with Olympians like Lisa Wilcox and Courtney King-Dye in the winner's circle during the four-day event, February 26-March 1. Classes in four rings meant strong competition for each ribbon in front of renowned international judging panels. Even the national classes were scored by the great Uwe Mechlem. Competitors and spectators alike were treated to special activities that can only be found at the Derby, such as the Inspection Reception hosted by Markel Insurance Specialist and Dressagedaily.com's Mary Phelps, the Argentine Asado BBQ Competitor's Party presented by Purina Mills with a fashion show by Horse of Course and the Taste of the Derby featuring hospitality presented by the Boutiques at the Derby on vendor row, as well as the recognition of Jan Brons as the inaugural recipient of the $25,000 Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize. Naturally the CDI competition was a highlight of the show. Local favorite and USET member Arlene "Tuny" Page with her Wild One delivered a fantastic Grand Prix Freestyle that capped off the event.
"To win at the Derby is great, just great," explained Tuny Page of victory, which earned a 71.45% from the judges. "It's a great show." Page credited the show's Executive Director Mary Anne McPhail and her husband Walter McPhail for raising the bar of dressage in the Wellington area. "If it weren't for them, there wouldn't be half of the people [showing dressage in this area.]"
Page rode the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Wanderer to a medley of Scottish and Celtic music organized by Marlene Whitaker that was originally created for Claire, Page's previous mount. The goal was greater risk and more forward movements, such as a canter extension right into the pirouettes. "This [ride] had the best feel to it of the shows this season," she explains. While Wild One has always demonstrated Grand Prix talent, Page attributes the gelding's newfound reliability to her reorganized game plan that focuses on a super consistent program and incredible attention to detail, from her daily assessment of the horse to a carefully timed warm-up. "If I ride him really, really well, he just simply goes better," she says matter of factly.
Finishing a close second to Page with a 71.1% in the freestyle was Mikala Gundersen with Horses Unlimited's RPSI stallion Leonberg. The pair also claimed the blue ribbon in the Grand Prix for Freestyle with a decisive victory and a 68.426% over Michael Barisone and Neruda who finished second with a 65.149%. "I'm so proud of Leo today," Gundersen said. "He's just getting better and better with each show." The pair's highlights included expressive two and one tempi changes, as well as powerful passage. She continued, "It all felt really good today. He's a very sensitive horse, but now we completely trust each other." The pair has had a winning Florida season, with several blue ribbons and top finishes at other CDIs. "I was almost crying when I texted my mom-that was when I really realized that we won! I am happy and thankful to have the ride on this horse."
Although Neruda was just out of the winner's circle in his classes, rider Michael Barisone didn't leave the Derby without a blue ribbon. Riding Dr. Nancy Binter's Olympus, Barisone claimed first place with a 65.362% in the Grand Prix for Special. Although he had the unenviable first ride in a huge class of 21 horses, Barisone and the 12-year-old Dutch gelding impressed the judges enough to hold the lead throughout the class. This was only the pair's second show together, although Olympus was a successful Young Rider horse in the Netherlands. Barisone was the reserve rider for the American Olympic team, an experience that he feels has greatly impacted his riding. Citing the month spent in Hong Kong with George Morris, Barisone has a renewed respect for the importance of setting goals and developing a strategy for achieving them. With both Olympus and Neruda, Barisone is carefully creating a plan in which both horses can shine.
Lauren Sammis is another rider who knows about setting and achieving goals. With Hyperion Farm's Sagacious HF, Sammis claimed the Grand Prix Special with a 66.792%. Although the pair was part of the gold medal winning team at the 2007 Pan American Games, this is only their third horse show at Grand Prix. "It's such a nice show with so many great competitors, so it was great to end up at the top," she said of her winning ride. She was particularly pleased with the 10-year-old KWPN gelding's expression in both his changes, as well as the trot work. She continues, "It's such a pleasure to ride a horse that when you ask offers 110%." Sammis also credits her team: coach Ashley Holzer, Katie Patton and her farrier Don Later for the success. "Without a great team, you don't get very far."
Courtney King-Dye often leads the victory gallop at the Derby and this year was no exception. This time on Jeff Fuqua's Bogner B, King claimed the Intermediaire I Freestyle with a 72.093%. "I'm really happy with my test," she says. "I felt that he was very solid all weekend and couldn't have asked him to be a more solid guy." The 11-year-old gelding is a future mount for his owner. "He's a really fun horse to ride and he'll be a fun horse for [Jeff.]" King-Dye also earned the High Score Award at Fourth Level with a 72.093% on Francine Walker's Villeneuve.
Marco Bernal also took home a High Score Award. Earning a 72.281% and the win in the Intermediaire I with his own Halbgott, Bernal received the High Point for the CDI. The pair also finished in second place in the Intermediaire I Freestyle and fourth place in the Prix St. Georges. "We went for everything," Bernal says of the test that earned him the blue ribbon. "[Halbgott] gives me everything inside the ring. He's unique. I've never met a horse like this. No matter how he's feeling, he always goes for the blue ribbon." Bernal has been training the 13 year old Trakehner since he was a young stallion and is pleased that the horse is moving successfully through the levels and will make his Grand Prix debut in the next couple of months.
Not to be overshadowed by the adults, Young Rider Kassandra Barteau made the 27-hour drive to the Derby worthwhile. Picking up an armful of blue ribbons, the Chicago resident also earned the High Score Hanoverian, High Score Training Level, High Score First Level, High Score Second Level, and Overall High Score of the Show with a 76.786%. "We love this show," Barteau enthused. "I'm proud of all of my horses."
Janne Rumbough also took home her own collection of blue ribbons with her horses JR and Winnie Too. Rumbough bred both horses by her former Grand Prix stallion Gaucho III. "My goal is to have a happy horse that is doing what they like," she says. "The fastest way to get to the [upper levels] is to go slow." Rumbough is a longtime Derby supporter and competitor. "I love the Derby. We should all be thrilled and lucky to have the great volunteers, people and sponsors who make it happen."
The 2009 Palm Beach Dressage Derby is the twenty-sixth edition of the show. "We were thrilled with the number of entries and support this year's show had," said show manager Evelyn O'Sullivan. "In this economy, one never knows what to expect, so we were elated that our classes were full as usual. We had small and large tour classes that ran throughout the day, as well as numerous sponsors for the classes. We offer a big thank you to everyone-volunteers, competitors, spectators, vendors and sponsors-that made the twenty-sixth Derby a great event."
Complete results and more information can be found on the website, http://www.pbderby.com
About the Palm Beach Derby
The Palm Beach Dressage Derby is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. The show attracts the best riders from around the globe, including Betsy Steiner, Leslie Morse, Robert Dover, Cesar Parra, Lars Peterson, Arlene Page, Ashley Holzer and many more luminaries of the dressage world. The Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W/Y is the main event in a two-show series that includes Dressage at Equestrian Estates in March as well as educational programs.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/tuny-page-palm-beach-dressage-derby-freestyle-03-09.html">Tuny Page and Wild One Victorious in Palm Beach Dressage Derby Freestyle</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com