WELLINGTON, Fla.--France’s Morgan Barbançon on Bolero scored 76.4% to win the CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle at the final Friday Night Stars at the Global Dressage Festival.
The Switzerland-based rider, edged out second placed Sweden’s seven-time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén on Devanto, with Dong Seon Kim of Korea third on his new ride, Galleria’s Bohemian, with 73.215%.
The 30-year-old Barbançon also won the qualifying grand prix on Habana Libre A, who contests the Grand Prix Special CDI4* on Saturday.
“I was super happy especially as this is my last show here this year, so this win tonight under the lights made it the cherry on the cake,” said Barbançon, who rode for Spain before switching nationalities.
At 17 years old, Bolero was the oldest horse in the field, and when asked how she keeps him so fresh, Barbançon said, “I guess it’s that the training and the management of how we work him during the week and at shows has been working well. He’s done maybe seven shows here and he’s just as fresh as the first week, so that makes me really happy. He’s done a lot for his age, so he will have a well-deserved holiday once he gets home.”
THOUGH her freestyle music was intended for her top horse Sir Donnerhall II, with whom she heads to the World Cup Final in Omaha, Neb., next month, it suits the bouncy, compact Bolero.
“This freestyle worked quite well,” said Barbançon. “I think it fit Bolero. I love riding him to this music, it makes it a lot of fun. I didn’t think this season would turn out this well, the horses have evolved so much throughout the weeks."
“It’s amazing to be in one spot and to be able to compete so much without having to travel and for them to gain the experience and the mileage without draining them from the transport,” she said. “The show and organization is amazing.Iit’s been a mega experience.”
Vilhelmson-Silfvén, who is an Festival regular, rode Devanto to score 75.715%, but she had her hands full in the warm-up when he came out far more fired up than she was expecting.
“I got a surprise today when I came to the warm-up; I thought he would maybe be a little tired, but he was wild and excited outside,” said Vilhelmson-Silfvén.
“I didn’t know what I’d have when I came in, but when we did, he was like, ‘OK, I’m going to work.’ He likes to do the job. I’m really happy with the test, but the feeling outside the ring was a little too exciting,” said the 55-year-old, who heads back to Europe next week with her string of horses.
A field of 26 competitors competed in the CDI3* Grand Prix, won by Emily Miles on Java Dolce with a score of 70.413%.
It was an Festival debut for Miles, who made a Spring Break trip to Florida from her home base in Kansas.
Barbançon placed second place with the 12-year-old Deodoro on 70.087%, and Jennifer Williams on Joppe K finished third with 69.087%.
The 12-year-old Java Dulce is a horse owner Leslie Waterman bought at auction in Florida as a 3-year-old and Miles has produced up the ladder.
“This is the first time I’ve come to Florida with my horses, so this win means the world to me, as a professional and for my family, coaches and team,” said the 35-year-old, who is part of a tight-knit team at her family’s barn and spends mornings cleaning stalls and afternoons riding. “I just wanted to get this kind of experience and exposure."
“Riding this horse is amazing, he’s such a trier and he will never tell you no. He is a hot and sensitive horse which is a gift in the end, but I can’t tell you how many times I fell off too, so that’s part of the journey, right?”
Java Dulce has little show experience as any competition is at least a 10-hour drive for Miles.
This was their first win of the season, and Miles has been able to pack three shows into her one-month stay in Florida.
“I felt that today he was really with me, and he’s been intimidated by the environment at his last two shows,” she said. “I know that he can do everything, but it’s been more about keeping it together mentally. We’ve had quite the journey and partnership.”
Miles has two other horses at AGDF, also owned by Waterman, who are contesting the Future Challenge developing grand prix horse final on Sunday.
“It was a quick trip in but I’m so thankful, we would like to come back next winter and I feel extremely fortunate to have three grand prix horses to compete,”said Miles. “It’s great to give the horses a big show experience at such a grand venue.”