USA’s Nicholia Clarke Claims Lövsta Future Challenge Final During Final Week of AGDF

Mar 30, 2024 - 10:47 AM

In the Lövsta Future Challenge developing grand prix horse final, in which horses performed the FEI Young Horse Grand Prix test, the champion’s sash was claimed by Nicholia Clarke (USA) during the finale week of the 2024 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). She rode the Komsi Komsa Syndicate LLC’s nine-year-old KWPN gelding Komsi Komsa (by Apache x Osmium) to 68.657%. The top three finishers all came from the first three rides in the class, with fellow American Tina Konyot finishing second on the former wild child J Everdale with 68.368%. Australia’s Kelly Layne filled third on Living Diamond, posting 67.183%.

Nicholia Clarke & Komsi Komsa, winners of the Lövsta Future Challenge Final for developing grand prix horses. Photo ©

The classes, which are open to horses from eight to 11 years old, are intended to provide the opportunity for riders to bring their up-and-coming international quality horses into a championship-type environment without the pressures of a CDI, like having to stable away from home. All qualifying rounds, held throughout AGDF 2024, used the FEI Intermediate II test, so the final was a step up in difficulty. 

Clarke, who is based in Montana for summers and Wellington for winters, said: “I”m thankful for the opportunity Lövsta provides for all of us to showcase our horses and give them a chance to be in this environment. I’m thrilled with how Komsi Komsa handled everything. 

Nicholia Clarke & Komsi Komsa, are presented as winners of the Lövsta Future Challenge Final by Antonia Ax:son Johnson. Photo ©

“I felt like this series would be a great way to move up at the end of the season, to try a few I2s, and we were wondering whether he was ready for the grand prix,” added Clarke, who trains with Debbie McDonald. “With these young horses we’re all wondering how they’ll handle the CDI ring, so we gave it a go and it feels great to come out on top. 

“I bought him from Amelie Kovac as a four-year-old, so we’ve been on a journey together which makes it all that much more rewarding. We have a strong partnership, but he’s hot and sensitive, so I’ve learned a lot and this is the icing on the cake,” she concluded. 

Reserve champion Konyot has also been on quite a journey with J Everdale, an Everdale x United gelding whom she began riding three years ago to help his owner sell him after he had deposited a number of riders. The two clicked and are now knocking on the door of grand prix. 

Tina Konyot & J Everdale. Photo ©

“‘He was a bit of a naughty boy but it’s a blessing to be here in this situation,” said Konyot. “In Europe there is the Louis D’Or Cup, and this is such a huge bonus for these young horses to get into an electric environment without any pressure. 

“With ‘Grover’ it’s been a journey with ups and downs — sometimes excusing myself, sometimes getting through the test. But he’s talented, with a lot of blood and a lot of fun. Today I had one big spook, but I’m very proud of him.”

Layne has long been a fan of the developing young horse classes, and she rode Living Diamond — who belongs to her 17-year-old Young Rider student Eva Levy — in the Prix St. Georges series last year.  

Kelly Layne & Living Diamond. Photo ©

“I absolutely love this series,” she said. “This is the sixth horse I’ve put in the final, and I’m so proud of that. Living Diamond is really green, but I was so impressed with how he handled it all. He stuck with me the whole way. We knew we couldn’t get the one-time changes, but he had such a good crack. He’s the sweetest horse.”

Antonia Ax:son Johnson of series sponsor Lövsta Stuteri said: “Around 20 years ago Tinne said to me that we really needed something to help the young horses going to grand prix, so we started the series in Europe and then we brought it here because Wellington is one of my paradises on earth. 

“This year we’ve had 48 entries, which is terrific. It’s all about the love of horses and giving them the opportunity to step by step develop and to grow and to understand what it is to compete. Giving them time shows how much we care about the horses. And the riding was beautiful because nobody was pushing their horses as they had the opportunity to develop them over all these weeks. The horses seemed happy and quiet, and that’s what we’re looking for and aiming for.” 

Dressage competition in week 12 resumes on Saturday, March 30, with both the CDI3* and CDI4* Grand Prix Special classes. There is also action in Young Riders, young horses, amateurs and Under-25s, as well as at all levels in the national rings this weekend. AGDF 2024 wraps up on Sunday. AGDF 2025 will kick off in the new year, with week one slated for January 8-12. 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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