Adrienne Lyle Scores Grand Prix Special Win On CDI Debut With New Horse During Final Week of AGDF 2024

Mar 31, 2024 - 3:26 AM

By Alice Collins for Wellington International

Saturday of the last CDI of the Wellington winter season gave team USA much to be excited about. In the CDI3* Grand Prix Special, sponsored by Beatrice Marienau Dressage, Olympic team silver medalist Adrienne Lyle (USA) opted to ride Lars Van De Hoenderheide—with whom she finished second in the qualifying grand prix, just behind her other horse Helix—and the decision proved fruitful. 

Adrienne Lyle & Lars Van De Hoenderheide, winners of the CDI3* Grand Prix Special, sponsored by Beatrice Marienau Dressage. Photo ©

On the penultimate day of the 2024 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), she and Zen Elite Equestrian Center’s 13-year-old Negro gelding, who was previously campaigned at the level by Lottie Fry (GBR) until December 2023, scored 73.192% with a solid, mistake-free performance to win the class of 14 starters. AGDF 2024, which hosts seven weeks of CDI competition over three months, runs through March 31.

Winners of the qualifying grand prix, Endel Ots (USA) and Zen Elite’s Bohemian—another new high-profile acquisition for owner Heidi Humphries—slotted into second in the Special with 72.49%. Their test attracted many eights, but a hop into canter at the beginning of the trot half-pass right and a miscommunication at the start of the one-time changes on the centerline quashed the score. Despite the mistakes, the 14-year-old Bordeaux gelding presented a harmonious, relaxed picture with his new rider.

The top six riders were all from the home nation, with Kasey Perry-Glass going one better than in the grand prix and finishing on the podium, in third, with Heartbeat WP. She rode the 12-year-old Charmeur gelding to 71.383% in their second ever CDI. 

Lyle, who trains with Debbie McDonald, said, “I think it’s 10 weeks now that we’ve had Lars and this is the first full Special I’ve ridden through on him. I’m so incredibly happy at his energy and his honesty and his willingness. It seems like he’s starting to understand what I want and fight for me in there, which is really special in such a new relationship. 

“I was really happy with his piaffe/passage tour. I got a bit braver to make the piaffe stay on the spot more and feel like I could trust that more. His canter tour is always super; he’s got super power and the changes are just a treat to ride,” she continued. 

Adrienne Lyle & Lars Van De Hoenderheide are presented as winners of the CDI3* Grand Prix Special, sponsored by Beatrice Marienau Dressage. Photo ©

Lyle works all her horses a maximum of four days a week, and that is no different for the two new arrivals, despite the pressure of the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, France.

“We’re not going to increase it just because we have a timeline,” she explained. “I was really adamant on that when they came here, so we’ve been sticking to that and the basics and getting to know each other. Thankfully it’s come together just in the nick of time for the last show here.”

Lyle, who has been a regular in the CDI grand prix arena over the past few years at AGDF, has been absent until week 12 while she builds a relationship with the two new horses. 

“Having these two amazing horses of Heidi’s has been fun because I’ve just been working at home knowing that I’m going to be back in there,” she said. “It’s such an amazing vision that Heidi is building. Our goal with both Lars and Helix is to potentially make enough shows to make the shortlist to go to Europe.” 

In the CDI4* Grand Prix Special, presented by Jenna Steffens/Douglas Elliman, Katherine Bateson Chandler (USA) and Haute Couture recorded their third win at AGDF 2024. They finished third in Thursday’s grand prix, but pulled off a 71.872% victory in Saturday’s Special. At the Paris Olympics, the Grand Prix Special will determine the team results, so the outcome from today’s classes at AGDF augurs particularly well for team USA. 

Katherine Bateson Chandler & Haute Couture, winners of the CDI4* Grand Prix Special, presented by Jenna Steffens/Douglas Elliman, Photo ©

Canada’s Jill Irving took second with her own and Windhaven’s 14-year-old Dancier gelding Delacroix 11 on 70.17%. Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén continued her bountiful week and added to the multitude of flag colors on the podium, riding Hyatt to 69.745% and the yellow ribbon.

Haute Couture was reserve for the Netherlands Olympic team for Tokyo with former rider Dinja van Liere and Bateson Chandler began competing the Connaisseur daughter two years ago after her long-time friend Jennifer Huber secured ownership. The pair have overcome some tension challenges, with their scores ranging from 61% to 71%. 

“We’ve had our stumbling blocks that were really mentally tough for both of us, so it took a lot of regrouping,” she explained. “That was a big mountain to climb for me and her. I’m super excited that it wasn’t a one hit wonder.

“This ring is a tricky ring for a lot of horses; everything is very close,” she said. “She is a spooky horse and very mentally sharp, so it was great to be able to get in here and do four tests in a row and be as good as she was, and beat some really good horses today. It was the best feeling I’ve ever had from her in the ring and she was right with me. I still screwed up some stuff, but that was rider error and she was a perfect angel. I’m super happy that our trust is growing. Her passage is pretty special and because of that it’s always on a bit of a knife edge. We’re a work in progress, but that means we still have places to go.”  

Katherine Bateson Chandler & Haute Couture are presented as winners of the CDI4* Grand Prix Special, presented by Jenna Steffens/Douglas Elliman, Photo ©

Bateson Chandler’s aims with the electric mare have been forced to be adjusted multiple times, but after two great shows at AGDF, she is now daring to hope to make the squad of combinations invited to compete in Europe this summer. Their next stop, just like Lyle, will be the upcoming CDI in TerraNova and then the tentative plan is to spend the summer in England at Bateson Chandler’s long-time trainer Carl Hester’s base. 

Week 12 of the 2024 AGDF wraps up on Sunday, March 31. The last day’s feature class is the final of the Buffalo Wild Wings Prix St. Georges Future Challenge for developing horses. There is also action in Juniors and Young Rider divisions, young horses and a CDI1* Intermediate I Freestyle. Competition continues at all levels in the national rings. For more information, results and to watch the live stream, visit the Global Dressage Festival website.

Click for full results from all classes in AGDF 12.

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