Kate Kyros’ Host of Firsts Results in Under-25 Nations Cup Individual Gold in Wellington

Feb 25, 2024 - 11:41 PM

By Alice Collins for Wellington International

Kate Kyros (AUS) rounded out Nations Cup week with a gold medal on Sunday, the final day of competition during week seven of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL. AGDF 2024, which hosts seven weeks of CDI competition and weekly national competitions, runs through March 31.

Kate Kyros, Josh Albrecht and Dennesy Rogers stand atop the podium for the Diamante Farms CDIO Under-25 Grand Prix Freestyle. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

An emotional Kyros landed the CDIO Under-25 Grand Prix Freestyle, sponsored by Diamante Farms, and with it the Nations Cup individual gold. She rode her mother Heather’s 12-year-old Connaisseur stallion Chemistry to 73.69% and the unanimous nod from all five judges. Two USA riders joined her on the podium, both with personal best scores. Twenty-two-year-old Josh Albrecht rode Coalcyn Equestrian LLC’s 13-year-old Apache gelding Goldenboy Vinckenburgh to 70.13% for the silver medal, while 21-year-old Dennesy Rogers’ 68.8% on her mother Dorriah’s 19-year-old Chanel (by Romanov) secured the bronze.

Kyros, who is just 19, was representing Australia for the first time in AGDF 7. She has been competing Chemistry for less than a year, but the partnership they have formed is strong. 

“I was very emotional,” admitted Kyros, who rode to an Alice in Wonderland soundtrack. “Turning from my final piaffe pirouette I was thinking, ‘I am going to cry!’ I’m so ridiculously proud of him today. This is huge. I was nervous because he’s never done a freestyle with this big atmosphere before and he’s been a little nervous with the clapping, but the minute I got in there today I just knew I had him, we were totally together and we were going to be fine.

Kate Kyros & Chemistry. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

“It’s my first ever time representing Australia, my first ever Nations Cup, and my first time ever wearing all the uniform. Doing it on this big of a level is incredible. I don’t think many other Young Riders have medalled at the Nations Cup for Australia, so it’s super exciting,” she added.

“My mom does all my floor plans and we stay up countless nights watching other European kids and all the big competitions. I think it’s really important to cater to your horse’s strengths, so that’s what we aim to do.”

Josh Albrecht & Goldenboy Vinckenburgh. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

The Kyros family bought Chemistry a few years ago, but he remained with his previous rider, New Zealand’s John Thompson, until Kate took over the reins in early 2023.  

“We bought him as a future U-25 grand prix horse because we knew they were so hard to find and we spent years looking for him,” she explained. “So even though I couldn’t ride him at the time because I was still too young in Australia, we saved him for later. 

“We haven’t even been competing him a year yet so we’ve gone very quickly and had some super success. He gives his heart 100% of the time, he never says no and I don’t think he’ll ever let me down,” added Kyros, who revealed that Chemistry lives with a giant stuffed carrot in his stable.  

Dennesy Rogers & Chanel. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

Both Chemistry and her other stallion, the 11-year-old Intro K, have had a cracking first half of the 2024 AGDF season, with Kyros racking up yet another victory on Sunday with Intro K, by Apache, in the CDIY Young Riders Freestyle. They topped the class with 75.745%, winning by more than 6.5 percentage points over the runners-up, Kat Fuqua on Vitosko. 

A shaky start comes good

After a rocky start to their relationship, Catherine Haddad and NorCordia USA’s nine-year-old Sola Diva emerged victorious from the 11 starters in the Buffalo Wild Wings Future Challenge Prix St. Georges with 70.294%. They picked up a coveted ticket to the final in AGDF 12, which is for developing horses aged seven to nine. Second-placed Jill Irving (CAN) and Knight, a nine-year-old KWPN gelding by Blue Hors Zack, scored 68.676% to claim the second qualifying spot. 

Catherine Haddad & Sola Diva, winners of the Buffalo Wild Wings Future Challenge Prix St. Georges. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

Haddad imported Sola Diva (by Sarotti Mocca-Sahne) a couple of years ago, but the Hanoverian mare was not enamored with Florida. 

“She had a rough entry into the USA,” explained Haddad, who is based between Florida and New Jersey. “Some horses don’t take to the Florida environment so well, she had skin issues, didn’t want to eat much, and we had to do a lot of things to get her happy and comfortable. So we really took our time with everything including the riding and training. I actually had to go into her stall and speak German to her because you could see that the horse was homesick.

“It took us a lot of time to come together but I feel like we’re a real partnership now. She has a lot of expression and I maybe tapped 60% of that today. She’s an extremely beautiful horse inside and out, and I’m a sucker for a beautiful horse. She’s a horse I’m preparing for the grand prix; she’s got beautiful gaits so it looks nice in the Prix St. Georges, but her collection is really remarkable. That mare glides — she has a hyper elastic body. She can cross her legs like a spider. Today I had the hind legs pushing up toward the bit so I could ride her in a higher, more upward frame.” 

Catherine Haddad & Sola Diva are presented as winners of the Buffalo Wild Wings Future Challenge Prix St. Georges by Dr. Diane Fellows. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

Haddad is appreciative of the chance to expose upcoming international horses to the championship-type environment that AGDF’s main arena offers.   

“It’s such an incredibly great opportunity to ride in this division because with a top horse like this you can get her in this arena without pressure,” said Haddad, who has recently switched nationalities to ride for her father’s native Lebanon after carrying the US flag for two decades. “I can show her around and give her some experience so that when I ride her next year on the international tour, I’ll know what to expect. I love this young horse tour.”

Susan McSherry-Jones 11-year-old Charmeur daughter Irabel racked up another win for the mares’ team when she carried Meghan Riviello to the blue ribbon in the CDI1* Intermediate I Freestyle. This was both the horse and rider’s first CDI, and their 72.395% freestyle victory marked their first international win. Devon Kane finished runner-up with a new personal best on Diamante Farms’ Superstar, of 71.73% 

Sunday’s action wraps up week seven of the 12-week 2024 AGDF. International competition resumes in a few days with week eight, featuring the Palm Beach Dressage Derby and World Cup™ qualifier (February 28 – March 3), as well as competition at all levels in the national arenas. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

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