Sweden’s No. 1 rider Patrik Kittel scored his personal best to win the FEI World Dressage Masters Exquis Grand Prix CDI5* on Watermill Scandic H B C on Friday.
The duo’s powerful and consistent ride featured buttery-smooth transitions, earning them a 77.681% against a field of 15 competitors at the Palm Beach County Jim Brandon Equestrian Center.
Kittel broke into a wide grin at the completion of his test, and his confidence was rewarded when the scores flashed on the board. The judge at “H,” Isabelle Judet of France, awarded Kittel and Scandic, a 14-year-old chestnut KWPN stallion, an 80.745%. A member of the Swedish team at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games as well as the 2010 World Equestrian Games, he rode Scandic to victories at Falsterbo CDI5*, Rotterdam CDIO3* and Lingen CDI4* last summer.
“It was my personal best score, and I’m very, very happy with that,” Kittel said. He emphasized his horse’s improvement, explaining that Scandic is “in much better shape” now after their hard work over the past months. “After the Olympics, I thought a bit, and I changed a bit, and I worked a bit more on getting my horse more uphill in the canter,” he said.
After the weekend, Kittel and Scandic will fly home and begin working toward the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in late April.
Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven came in second with a 76.851% riding Don Auriello, an 11-year-old bay Hanoverian gelding owned by Lovsta Stuteri. Swedish teammates Kittel and Vilhelmson-Silfven continued a friendly Florida rivalry after last weekend’s Gold Coast Opener CDI-W. Kittel and Scandic won both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle at the Gold Coast Opener, while Vilhelmson-Silfven, riding Divertimento, finished second and third.
While Vilhelmson-Silfven turned to her Olympic mount, Don Auriello, for World Dressage Masters in an effort to challenge Kittel, she fell just short.
Don Auriello earned high praise from Gary Rockwell, the judge at “C.” “The lightness of Tinne’s horse is so beautiful to watch that you have to appreciate that,” Rockwell said.
Vilhelmson-Silfven credited the dressage circuit in Florida as a catalyst for Don Auriello’s development. “Florida’s been very important for Don Auriello,” she said. “He has done a lot of his best starts here, I think.”
The defending two-time WDM Palm Beach Champion Steffen Peters was pleased with his third place finish on Legolas 92, whose precise movements and lofty piaffe earned them a score of 75.149%. Legolas 92 is an 11-year-old bay Westphalian gelding owned by Four Winds Farm. Peters, a three-time Olympian, is the only US dressage rider to have won individual medals at the World Equestrian Games.
US rider Heather Blitz on Paragon, her own 10-year-old Danish Warmblood, scored a 74.064% to take fourth with extravagant extensions and fluid tempi changes. The elegant pair finished second in the Grand Prix Special at the 2012 World Dressage Masters Palm Beach CDI4*.
Denmark’s Lars Petersen and Mariett, a 15-year-old Danish Warmblood mare owned by Marcia Pepper and Lars Petersen, earned a 71.809% for a fifth place finish. A five-time Danish National Champion, Petersen’s resumé includes the Olympic Games, three World Equestrian Games, two World Cup Finals, and three Continental Championships
US Olympian Adrienne Lyle, Debbie McDonald’s protégé, and Wizard earned a 71.362% for sixth place. The pair rode in their first WDM Palm Beach appearance last year and won the Grand Prix Special with a score of 75.022%. Lyle’s big grin and pat for Wizard, a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas, was a crowd pleaser, and the duo passaged out of the arena after their test.
Another crowd favorite was David Marcus on Chrevi’s Capital, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Deborah Kinzinger. His ride earned a 70.660% for seventh place, and the pair left the arena amid cheers and waving of Canadian flags.
Hans Peter Minderhoud on Withney van ‘t Genthof earned a 69.872%. The Dutch pair rounded out the top eight to advance to the Grand Prix Freestyle Saturday night.
Edward Gal of the Netherlands, who was slated to ride Inter Floor Next One, had to withdraw from the competition due to illness.
US rider Tina Konyot‘s horse Calecto V was eliminated after her test and before the combination had left the official equipment check area ringside. They had posted a score of 68.681. Konyot was informed by the FEI Chief Steward that the judge at C, Gary Rockwell (USA), had made the decision based on Article 428.8 and Article 430.7, due to the evidence of fresh blood on the horse’s side.
World Dressage Masters FEI Grand Prix CDI5*
1-Patrik Kittel (SWE)-Watermill Scandic H B C-77.681%
2- Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE)- Don Auriello-76.851%
3- Steffen Peters (USA)-Legolas 92-75.149%
4- Heather Blitz (USA)-Paragon-74.064%
5- Lars Petersen (DEN)- Mariett-71.809%
6- Adrienne Lyle (USA)- Wizard-71.362%
7- David Marcus (CAN)- Chrevi’s Capital-70.660%
8- Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED)-Withney van ‘t Genthof-69.872%
9- Mikala Gundersen (DEN)-My Lady- 68.447%
10- James Koford (USA)-Rhett-66.383%
11- Jacqueline Brooks (CAN)-D-Niro-66.362%
12- Cheryl Mizner (CAN)-Tango-65.404%
13- Silvia Rizzo (ITA)-Donnerbube II 65.255%
14- Diane Creech (CAN)-Devon L 64.106%
Eliminated-Tina M. Konyot (USA)-Calecto V