October 3 (Devon, Pa) — Grand Prix competition at 2021 Dressage at Devon concluded tonight with the CDI3* Grand Prix Special and the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle. Spectators gathered around the Dixon Oval and filled the air with electricity, creating the iconic feeling under the lights at Devon that riders cherish so much. At the conclusion of the night, Michael Bragdell (USA) reigned supreme in the Grand Prix Freestyle while Canada's Diane Creech claimed the win in the Grand Prix Special.
CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle
Michael Bragdell came full circle tonight aboard Qredit Hilltop—the stallion who he's been with since a yearling and won Grand Champion of the Devon breed show. Now, over ten years later, Bragdell claimed victory in the Freestyle with "Q". To the tune of a catchy mix including "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk and "A Sky Full of Stars" by Coldplay, Bragdell and Q were in sync with the music nearly every step of their test, seemingly dancing in unison. The crowd exploded with applause upon their final salute as Bragdell earned a personal best score of 72.995%.
An emotional Bragdell commented, "From the day he came to the farm as a weanling, I felt that he was special ... Yesterday morning I was walking around before the sun came up, and it brought back..." Bragdell paused, choking back tears, "it brought back those memories."
"I've done Devon as a handler at the breed shows for, gosh, 20-some years. When I did that in the beginning, I was purely a jumper rider. I never thought I'd do what I did tonight," Bragdell said with a laugh. "It's just crazy. To be here and wear the blue ribbon, it's very special. Especially on [Q]."
Behind Bragdell in second place was Susanne Hamilton (USA) and Lesath, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, with a 71.075%. "My horse is very young at the Grand Prix right now," said Susanne. "He loves his music. The first time I played my music to him he said, 'This is it,' and I said, 'OK, we'll go with that," and every time he hears it he says 'OK, I can let go now.'"
Rounding out the top three in the Freestyle was Shannon Stevens aboard Ferrari, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding, with a score of 70.990%. "This is my first CDI ever, so I was thrilled to do it here. Year after year I've come and watched and spectated and had this dream to ride here, and I did that tonight, which was awesome."
"It went well. It's a very new partnership with this horse. I love him—he is my heart horse, completely," Stevens added. "He's still a little bit green, I'm a little bit green, so I need to get show mileage. I think life is really short and I wanted to do it!"
CDI3* Grand Prix Special
Creech and Chrevis Christo, an 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Louise Leatherdale of Leatherdale Farms, put in a gorgeous round to earn a 69.695% and top the leaderboard. "Christo felt fantastic, he was amazing," said Creech. "Christo can be little bit shy about shadows and about the flower pots and he had one or two little spooks, but he went in there and he was really so brave. We just had a lot of fun, it was just great."
"And the crowd," Creech added, "it was so nice to see the stands full again and showing at night time. It was just so electric and really great."
After her test in the CDI3* Grand Prix qualifier on Friday night, Creech commented that Chrevis Christo can be a "professor" when it comes to tests he's done before, sometimes even getting ahead of her. As for tonight, Creech said Chrevis Christo was with her every step of the way. "Today he was just very focused and very concentrated on me. He really waited for me and he really let me ride because he was so focused on me. We have such a partnership and he trusts me so much. Even the 'professor' was like 'OK, it's your turn.'"
Diane was not the only Creech celebrating tonight. She and her daughter, Vanessa Creech-Terauds, garnered a total of six blue ribbons during 2021 Dressage at Devon. "We are so happy and so proud," shared Diane. "It was like extra pressure going into the [Grand Prix Special] and we had all these blue ribbons and I was like, 'To make this a perfect weekend I need to win this class!'"
In second place behind Creech with a 66.745% was Maria Aponte González (COL) and her 17-year-old British Hanoverian gelding, Duke De Niro. Rounding out the top three was Koryn Doolittle (USA) aboard her 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Don Giovanni, with a score of 64.574%.