Benjamin Ebeling won the Grand Prix Special at the Festival on Feb. 28 (2)
March 1, 2021
By Staff Writers
WELLINGTON, Fla.--Benjamin Ebeling on Illuster Van De Kampert won the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* at the Global Dressage Festival on Sunday, Feb. 28.
Benjamin Ebeling on Illuster Van De Kampert (Photo by Susan Stickle)Ebeling on Illuster Van De Kampert won the competitive class with a score of 75.170 percent, almost five full points ahead of the second place score.
“It’s really a testament to my coaches and the team behind me,” said Ebeling. “For me, it’s really important to give thanks to them. They help me so much day to day, and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
The high score was also a personal best for Ebeling and the gelding, their second of the week after placing first in Friday’s FEI Grand Prix CDI3* with a 73.326 percent.
“Today was the most comfortable that Illuster has felt in that arena,” said Ebeling. “Of course, it’s a big atmosphere for any horse, but he’s naturally a hot horse. The arena can be a bit of a challenge for him. Every time we go in there he’s settling down, and for me mentally, that’s a big win.”
“Today his strength was definitely in the canter work." said Ebeling. "The first trot half-pass I was very happy with, and that last centerline is always so fun to ride too.”
THE PAIR made their senior international Grand Prix debut at AGDF this season after competing in the Under 25 division and have notched several top placings since, with the day’s Special marking their third big tour win.
Proving that hard work pays off, the team also has several eyes on them as they are coached by Ebeling’s father, Olympian Jan Ebeling, Japanese dressage team coach Christoph Koschel, and also receive help from retired five-star judge Gary Rockwell and former USA dressage team coach Robert Dover.
“Usually I’m talking to Robert Dover the night before a test, and one thing that he’s always telling me is maintaining a good connection with power and collection," said Ebeling. "It’s something that we talk about often, and I really feel like I brought that into the arena today.”
Second place in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* was Susan Dutta on Don Design DC with 70.893 percent, and Anna Buffini on FRH Davinia la Douce was third with 70.702 percent.
SABINE SCHUT-KERY on Sanceo scored a second victory, this time in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI5* on Saturday with their highest Grand Prix Special score to date, earning a 77.468 percent, more than four points higher than second place finisher Lindsay Kellock of Canada).
Sabine Schut Kery on Sanceo (Photo by Susan Stickle)“I feel so much joy and have happy tears,” said Schut-Kery. “It’s very emotional. Aside from those feelings, to ride the test, you are focused in there of course, but it’s also joyful. It’s an amazing feeling to have an animal like that to respond to you in there with such small aids and cues. That amazing feeling is still there for me after 30-plus years, how we can communicate with an animal like that.”
The personal best score for the pair comes after a successful win on Thursday in the Grand Prix CDI5*, and Schut-Kery noted her appreciation for the team that supports the duo and has helped them get to this point.
“During the awards, I thought, ‘My gosh, there are so many people on my team, and I want to thank the ones behind me that keep a horse at that level,’" said Schut-Kery. "The coaches, vets, farriers, grooms, and the owners of course. When you have such a nice ride, one that you’ve been working up to, those are the things that go through your head.”
Schut-Kery noted that though Thursday welcomed a victory, it wasn’t her favorite performance, and she was happy that she was able to stick to her plan to really ace the Grand Prix Special.
"How many times in your life do you have a plan and you hope you can stick to it, but it doesn’t go right?" she said. "This really feels like it all went to plan today. My goal was the special. I did it a week before in the National show to prepare because we had been out of the ring since November, so today was nice. Thursday was a little disappointing on my part as a rider, so it’s nice that today it worked out so well. It’s one of those special moments, and I know that I will always have to work hard for it, but it’s a moment of joy.”
Kellock on Sebastien was second place on a score of 73.234 percent.
“I had a great feeling today in this test,” Kellock said. “Each time my horse goes in there I feel him get more and more confident in that ring, which then gives me the confidence to give him bigger aids or ask him to do more and be more expressive. As a rider, to feel him go in there and feel confident has really helped me ride a better test.”
“Today he gave me everything and more than I was asking,”said Kellock. “I felt like I could push his passage way more than normal, and he still came into that piaffe transition well. Normally that is a little bit difficult because he has such a big passage. I’m just happy with how it’s all come together over the last year. Having this year for training has been big. This is only his second year at international grand prix so I’m really thrilled with where he is, and I just hope he can keep getting better.”
Adrienne Lyle rounded out the top three on Harmony’s Duval with 73.149 percent.
“I was happy with today’s ride," said Lyle. "I thought we had improvement from the Grand Prix. He had a little bit more power, a little bit more engagement. With that, unfortunately, I lost a little bit of control in the one tempis, and we had a costly mistake there. Overall, I thought the quality of the piaffe/passage was better today and more characteristic of what he was capable of.”
“I also have to say what fun it was to watch Sabine’s amazing ride and watching those scores climb higher and higher to the point we know we’re all trying to get the U.S. riders to," said Lyle. "That made me cry on the sideline. It was so beautiful. That was my highlight of the day.”
In the FEI Intermediaire I CDI1*, Steffen Peters had another victory with Boreas FRF, with 73.206 percent.
Peters also was second with Boston Strong with a score of 70.794 percent, and third went Eliane Cordia Van Reesema on Fellow, scoring 69.559 percent.