By Alice Collins for Wellington International
It was a long and nail-biting wait for Kerrigan Gluch (USA) to discover that she had won the Fair Sky Farm CDI3* Grand Prix Special. She was first to go, mid-morning, on Saturday of week 10 of the 2023 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL. When the class finished, mid-afternoon, Gulch’s name was still atop the leaderboard with Mejorano HGF and their score of 68.872%. That included some big names, like Morgan Barbançon — winner of the qualifying Grand Prix on Thursday with Bolero — whose performances couldn’t better Gluch’s.
Susan Dutta and Don Design DC, the Dutta Corp.’s 13-year-old gelding by Der Designer, finished second with 68.702%. Korean rider Dong Sean Kim is still getting to know his new acquisition, Galleria’s Bohemian. The 13-year-old gelding by Bordeaux finished fourth in the freestyle final at the Tokyo Olympics under Denmark’s Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour. This is just Kim’s second CDI on Bohemian, and their first Grand Prix Special together. They scored 68.574% for the yellow ribbon.
Mejorano was bred by his owners, Hampton Green Farm. Gluch began her career there as a working student 11 years ago, and then graduated into a sponsored rider. Having known Mejorano as a young horse, Gluch then picked up the ride full-time three years ago, and their partnership is going from strength to strength.
“He’s an extraordinary horse, super talented in all aspects of the grand prix,” said the 26-year-old. “I’ve really been focused on the flow of everything – in and out of transitions – so everything had a lot of harmony and that was the main goal for this weekend, and I think I accomplished that. My piaffe/passage tour was quite smooth and I was happy with how the changes felt in the ring. It’s a very long test, but I was able to settle in and enjoy it.
“Mejarano is a product of the breeding in the States that we strive for. It’s special to be able to do it with him knowing that he was born here and show that off. He tries his heart out for me every time,” added the Ocala-based Gluch, who has recently started training with fellow Ocala rider, Shelly Francis, after years training with Charlotte Bredahl.
“Mejorano has always had a talent for piaffe/passage,” she added. “It’s taken me a few years to tune that all up so it shows in the ring, where his rhythm and cadence and activity come together. He has a very expressive front end to be able to show off the half-passes along with the changes is very fun to do.”
It was tight at the top in the Intermediate A CDI2*, presented by Helgstrand Jewellery, with the top two combinations scoring over 68% on the only two Iberian horses in the class. It was Georgia Wren-Russ (USA) whose 68.382% test on Coves Darden Farm’s 13-year-old PRE stallion Guateque IV, by Layco, who came out on top. The 31-year-old rider’s GW Dressage is based out of both Wellington, FL, and Lexington, KY.
She edged out Canadian rider Denielle Gallagher and Come Back De Massa, an 11-year-old Lusitano gelding by Galopin De La Font (68.029%). In a podium with flags from three different nations flying, it was the American-based Filipino rider and model Ellesse Gundersen who filled third. She rode her own home-bred Quintessential 4, a nine-year-old by Quaterback, to 64.794%.
Action in week 10 wraps up on Sunday. Week 11 runs March 22-26 and is the final CDI competition of the 2023 AGDF season, featuring four-star action at Equestrian Village, as well as a national show. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.