March 16, 2015--She did it!
Laura Graves, a late starter in the race to qualify for next month's Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage finals in Las Vegas, made the grade with two impressive victories in a row.
On Friday night at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, she and Verdades earned a mark of 79.600 percent, with highlights as usual in the piaffe and passage, as well as an overall lightness and natural carriage showing true harmony between horse and rider.
In that regard, it was reminiscent of defending World Cup champion Valegro, the horse Charlottee Dujardin of Great Britain has ridden to a windfall of Olympic, world championships and European championships gold medals.
Between her 78.875 percent win two weeks ago and this weekend, Laura took her horse back to her farm in Central Florida There, she worked him in a snaffle to polish his performance while avoiding the distractions of Wellington, Fla., home of the AGDF.
Now we just have to wait for next weekend and the last qualifier on the West Coast, as we hope that Steffen Peters can clinch his spot in the finals with Legolas, after scoring over 80 percent in his first qualifier.
Las Vegas will see four former winners competing; Steffen (2009), Dutch rider Edward Gal (2010), Germany's Isabell Werth (1992, 2007) and Charlotte. She is the only one who will be riding the horse on which she won previously.
Edward took the Western European League's final qualifier Saturday in s'Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, with the fiery Glock's Undercover, despite a few problems, including wrinkles in the tempi changes. He scored 84.925 percent, a mark that Laura and Steffen have yet to reach.
Second with 81.650 percent at s'Hertogenbosch was Isabell on Don Johnson. However, she plans to bring El Santo NRH to Las Vegas. Missing out on a slot in Vegas was a two-time Cup champion Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival. She is 12th in the standings, with only the top nine getting a ticket to the finals. In any case, just three riders from one country are permitted to go to the Cup, and in addition to Gal, his partner, Hans Peter Minderhoud (Glock's Flirt) and Danielle Heijkoop (Siro) filled the Dutch quota.
You will remember El Santo and Glock's Flirt from the inaugural Central Park show last September, where they placed 1-2.
In addition to Isabell, two other riders from Germany will be competing.They are Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Fabienne Luktemeir.
Spain's Morgan Barbancon-Mestre, who rides Anky van Grunsven's former mount, Painted Black, got a ticket to Vegas, along with Sweden's Paulinda Friberg and Denmark's Agnete Kirk Thinggard.