Lars Petersen and Mariett Amaze in FEI Grand Prix Freestyle

Lars Petersen and Mariett Amaze in FEI Grand Prix Freestyle

Lars Petersen (DEN) and Mariett emerged victorious from Saturday night's FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 5*. The class was showcased under the lights of The Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) during the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) Wellington 5*, presented by Diamante Farms. Second place went to Steffen Peters and Legolas 92, and Tina Konyot rode Calecto V to third place.

Judges for the class were: Lilo Fore at E, Axel Steiner at H, Stephen Clarke at C, Raphael Saleh at M, and Peter Holler at B.

A whopping $84,000 in prize money was awarded for the evening's class. The high-stakes competition attracted a substantial amount of very enthusiastic spectators.

Devon Kane, of Diamante Farms, was on hand to express her gratitude to the evening's exhibitors and their supporters. “You put on a fantastic show and the spectators and turnout for tonight really spoke for the quality of the competition. Thank you all very much, to your sponsors and your owners and to the horses. We all know that this facility is going to flourish and get better and better, and you all coming and supporting it means everything to us,” Kane expressed.

Allyn Mann, representing GDF title sponsor Adequan, described the spectacular evening as everything he could have envisioned. “I think [tonight] lived up to everything we hoped it would be and I really want to thank each of the riders for making the effort to be here and for putting on a world-class event tonight,” Mann remarked.

CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions Mark Bellissimo thanked Adequan for their phenomenal support for the AGDF and was thrilled to be able to offer top competition and prize money to competitors. “We're proud to have Adequan here and they deserve a lot of the credit for stepping up and supporting the sport,” Bellissomo stated.

As final scores were verified for the night, a thrilling reining versus dressage exhibition was performed by Rick Steed and Susan Dutta. Steed and his Quarter Horse gelding High Dollar put on a high-speed demonstration of their best reining slides and spins, followed by Dutta and her Oldenburg gelding Currency DC performing high-level dressage movements.

Petersen and Mariett topped the class with an astounding score of 78.450%, a personal best for the pair. Steffen Peters (USA) and Legolas weren't far behind with a 78.100% that put them in second place. The top three was rounded out by Tina Konyot and Calecto V with a score of 77.050%.

Petersen was elated with Mariett's continued progress as she wrapped up a winning weekend at the AGDF. “I was very happy with Mariett tonight. The overall rideability of the mare is just getting better and better and that's why I'm getting all the difficult movements, so I'm very happy about all of that,” Petersen described.

“What I'm actually most happy about is through my tests there are a lot of transitions,” Petersen continued. “We go half pass-passage-piaffe-extensions-half pass and for a trainer, you like when all those transitions are smooth. This is one of the best tests I've had on her.”

Petersen was especially happy to have a 5* victory under his belt with the fifteen-year-old Danish Warmblood mare, who is owned by Marcia Pepper. “It means a lot because this is her first year in the Grand Prix. She has been getting better and better every show,” he said.

Peters described his second place finish with Legolas as their best freestyle yet despite some early missteps. “It took him just ten seconds to sink in. The first five seconds were a bit tricky and then he really settled down smoothly,” Peters described.

“The connection has never been better in a freestyle and that really tells me everything about him. When he's soft and loose, then I can ride him a bit more and this is exactly the feeling I wanted to take to Europe. Tehnically, it wasn't our best freestyle, but for suppleness and relaxation it certainly was our best freestyle,” Peters continued.

While the atmosphere of The Stadium at night had Legolas a little on edge, Peters had nothing but praise for the venue. “It's not just the arena, it's everything. The warm-up is great. The horses get used to the atmosphere that's actually in the ring. The footing is phenomenal, the stalls are great. This is one of my favorite places in the world to show, there's no doubt. This is my first time here and you can count on me coming back,” Peters remarked.

Third place finisher Konyot echoed Peters' sentiments. “The atmosphere is spectacular here. It's something we've all hoped for and wished for – to have an actual show facility that's like an international venue. It is a spectacular place for the spectators, for the riders, for the horses. The people that organize it, the people that support us and are behind it, give it a positive, wonderful feeling,” Konyot commented.

Konyot acknowledged Calecto V started to tire towards the end of their performance, but was overall very pleased with how he did. “I was very happy with my horse. He had very good feeling and very good power. At the beginning of my test, I felt very, very solid. At the ending, he was a little bit tired, but overall I had a very good feeling about my ride and my horse is always there for me,” Konyot explained.

The evening's competition concluded with Heather Blitz (USA) and Paragon, the last pair to perform. Blitz and Paragon rode out technical difficulties with their music, which Blitz good-naturedly acknowledged did not make a difference in their ride. Blitz and Paragon went on to finish in fourth place with a score 75.100%.

Final Results: FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 5* presented by Diamante Farms
Rider, Country, Horse: Judge E%, Judge H%, Judge C%, Judge M%, Judge B%, Total%
1 Lars Petersen, DEN, Mariett: 81.125%, 79.000%, 78.000%, 75.000%, 79.125%, 78.450%
2 Steffen Peters, USA, Legolas 92: 80.375%, 76.750%, 77.125%, 77.500%, 78.750%, 78.100%
3 Tina Konyot, USA, Calecto V: 78.125%, 75.625%, 79.125%, 76.000%, 76.375%, 77.050%,
4 Heather Blitz, USA, Paragon: 75.500%, 74.625%, 77.125%, 72.250%, 76.000%, 75.100%
5 Shelly Francis, USA, Doktor: 73.500%, 73.625%, 74.375%, 73.250%, 73.00%, 73.550%
6 Ashley Holzer, CAN, Breaking Dawn: 71.250%, 70.125%, 75.500%, 73.625%, 72.265%, 72.265%
7 Jacqueline M. Brooks, CAN, D Niro: 72.375%, 69.250%, 71.750%, 69.625%, 71.125%, 70.825%
8 David Marcus, CAN, Don Kontes: 71.875%, 68.750%, 72.250%, 70.625%, 69.375%, 70.575%

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