Germany’s Frederic Wandres and Bluetooth OLD claimed their second CDI-W win in two days at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, Florida, on Friday night. The duo followed up Thursday night’s victory in the CDI-W Grand Prix Qualifier with yet another leaderboard topping score of 80.565% in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle.
This win also marks Wandres and the the 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding’s fourth consecutive win at AGDF this season. “I’m very happy with Bluetooth again. He’s getting more and more consistent now.” Their first two victories were during Week 3. “It was the second Friday under the lights now for me this season and I really love the atmosphere.”
Wandres took over the ride on Bluetooth from Ingrid Klimke two years ago, and he’s been working to build a solid partnership with his mount. “In the beginning, we needed some time to get together. He’s a very sensitive horse. He really needs to have a plan and everything needs to be nearly the same always. He needs a routine. Until I figured that out, it took a little while, but now I know him and he knows me and we know what we can risk and what not.”
2023 World Cup Aspirations
Wandres has his fingers crossed for the FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2023. He’s is currently 12th in the FEI Dressage World Cup Western European League standings for the 2022/2023 season with 33 points.
“The World Cup [season] comes to the final stage in Week 8 [of AGDF], then we will see who goes to Omaha,” said Wandres. “For Germans, or for every [Western European] nation, only three riders are allowed to go. One of the Germans is Jessica von Bredow-Werndl as a title defender, so two more [spots], and the battle is always hard there.”
Even with the additional points from Friday night’s class, Wandres feels unsure if he’ll be selected to represent Germany at the Finals. “I, to be honest, don’t have many World Cup shows in Europe. Before I left, I [did] only two,” explained Wandres.
“I can still ride in the other World Cup, which is coming in Week 8 and can only catch half of the points there. In the end, I see no chance that I can come point-wise in front of the other Germans. But, also in the end, you never know who takes the step onto the airplane, and [Bluetooth and I] are already here [in the states]. So, you never know. We are ready for it.”
Holzer and Valentine Take Second
USA’s Ashley Holzer also earned two podium spots during Week 5 of AGDF. She and Valentine, a 13-year-old Hanoverian mare, were third in the qualifier on Thursday. But the duo outdid that performance and claimed second in the Grand Prix Freestyle with a 77.400%.
Valentine’s performance in the Freestyle was a step in the right direction for the 13-year-old Hanoverian mare as she works to gain her confidence back after the 2022 FEI World Championships. “When you feel your partner lose it mentally and lose her confidence, it’s heartbreaking as a rider and owner,” shared Holzer.
Following a meltdown at the Championships, Holzer took Valentine down a level to the Medium Tour to get her confidence back up. “We made a plan, we brought her back,” said Holzer. After months of determination, Holzer said Valentine was feeling like her old partner again.
“[Thursday] in the Grand Prix, [she felt] really willing, like my partner again. And [the Freestyle], was a huge question mark, I’m not going to lie. This was a huge atmosphere. It’s like you pray to God that the PTSD doesn’t come back. She was a little tricky in the warm-up. She was really scared.”
But, Holzer continued, “[We] came in the ring, and I just tried to say, ‘Hey, you’re my partner, we’ve got to go, we’ve got to do this together,’ and she just slowly came more and more and more to me as the test went on. … To feel that is such … I can’t even explain it. That last center I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s my mare again, she’s back.'”
Tubman and First Apple Round it Out
Sarah Tubman (USA) and First Apple were just second to enter the ring in the Freestyle, but they made their mark with a 77.270% to maintain a spot on the podium. “There’s nothing more I could ask for from him tonight,” said Tubman of the 13-year-old KWPN stallion. “He was completely with me.”
Tubman has her sight set on the World Cup™ Finals, and she knew the importance of tonight’s class for earning a ticket to Omaha. “For where we’re at with everything, I laid it all out on the table and I made [First Apple] work for it.”
Tubman is currently 3rd in the FEI Dressage World Cup North American League rankings list for the 2022/2023 season. Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper is the only combination to clinch a trip to Omaha followed by Alice Tarjan. The final North American qualifier will determine the other two spots.
As for Tubman’s plans to get to the Finals in April, “We’re taking it show by show. … We’ll of course plan on doing the last World Cup qualifier.”
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Stay Up to Date
For FEI Dressage World Cup North American League standings, click here.
For FEI Dressage World Cup Western European League standings, click here.
Thanks to Vita Flex for our coverage leading up to the 2023 FEI Dressage World Cup Finals, including rider interviews, competition reports, photos, videos and more!