Holzer Makes It Two in a Row with a Win in the Freestyle
Ashley Holzer led the victory gallop once again at the 25th Phelpssports.com Palm Beach Dressage Derby with an astounding 77.45%, including two scores of 79% or higher, in the Grand Prix Freestyle. The Canadian Olympic medalist also claimed Saturday’s Grand Prix with her 11-year-old KWPN gelding Pop Art. The duo has had an impressive Florida showing with several other wins this year as they prepare for the Olympic Games in Hong Kong.
“I feel extremely proud of my horse,” a thrilled Holzer commented. “It just came together.” The pair danced to a combination of music from the Epcot Center fireworks show and the soundtrack from the movie National Treasure, which was selected by Holzer’s daughter Emma. Holzer commended coach Evi Strausser for helping her fine tune the warm-up. “She just walked me through it,” she continued. Holzer was quick to praise her entire team for helping Pop Art stay calm and relaxed. The flashy chestnut received an early morning walk around the show grounds to aid in his relaxation. The plan worked as Pop Art commanded the arena. Holzer was pleased with her horse’s focus and loved the feel of his piaffe. “I’ve never felt his legs go this high!” she said.
Jane Hannigan and her KWPN gelding Maksymillian finished second with a 72.85%. Although an official announcement hasn’t been made yet, most likely Hannigan will get to pack her bags for Europe and the World Cup Finals. “I have a stupid smile I can’t wipe off,” she joked. Finishing in third was Courtney King and the KWPN stallion Idocus who represented the U.S. at the World Cup Finals last year in Las Vegas.
The high freestyle scores capped off an incredible weekend of top quality dressage at the Derby. “This year was a celebration of 25 years of great dressage at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby,” said show manager Evelyn O’Sullivan. “And what better way to celebrate than with record entries, high scores and so many Olympians!” Nearly 50 entries in the CDI Grand Prix, plus 14 entries in the regular Grand Prix, on top of huge Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire classes gave dressage fans limitless opportunities to watch great dressage.
Exhibitors and spectators to the Derby have always been drawn in by its incredible hospitality and friendly atmosphere. This year was no exception. A sold-out VIP tent benefited the United States Equestrian Team Foundation. And an art show reception honored several of the artists whose work has been featured on the Derby program covers. “As the twenty-fifth Derby, we wanted this year to be extra special,” said Executive Director Mary Anne McPhail. Other anniversary celebrations included an Olympic Tribute that acknowledged 16 Olympic riders, which may be the largest gathering of Olympic equestrians in North America, and the Taste of the Derby, a shopping extravaganza hosted by the boutiques at the Derby in which each shop offered hospitality. The vendors really put on a show; chocolate covered strawberries and a chocolate fountain were just a few of the goodies.
This special atmosphere encouraged Phelpssports.com to sign on as a two-year title sponsor of the Derby. “I’m thrilled to be part of this event,” said founder Mason Phelps. “Mary Anne and Walter couldn’t be nicer people and we’re always happy to support their efforts.” Exhibitors and winners at the Derby received a variety of prizes from Phelpssports.com, including complimentary subscriptions to the site that features daily news, interviews and videos of the world’s most important equestrian events. Exhibitors received loads of other prizes, including halters, saddle pads, coolers and other great items.
A complete list of results, photos and more information can be found at www.pbderby.com.
CDI Grand Prix Freestyle Results
1. Ashley Holzer,
Pop Art, 77.45
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