Germany’s 23-year-old sensation Felicitas Hendricks allowed herself to smile as she and Drombusch OLD performed their final piaffe at X in the CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by US PRE Association, as the audience clapped enthusiastically to the beat of their lively music.
The pair — unbeaten in all four of their starts at the 2024 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, Florida — added week three’s marquee ‘Friday Night Stars’ class to their burgeoning tally with a delightful 78.79% performance on January 26.
Sweden’s Lövsta Stuteri riders filled the remaining two podium places, with Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén piloting the 15-year-old Devanto (by De Chirico x Lorentin) to 77.11%, and Caroline Darcourt and the 14-year-old Lord Django (by Stalypso x Londonderry) tucking in behind on 76.89%.
Hendricks and her own 13-year-old Drombusch OLD (by Destano x Dimaggio) have exploded onto the senior stage in 2024, and their freestyle was full of technical complexity: curving lines of changes, double pirouettes, passage half-pass, and piaffe pirouettes. Hendricks was just 0.3 percentage points shy of her career high score with Drombusch, and would probably have bettered it but for two very small blips in the test.
“It was so much fun,” said Hendricks, who has ridden Drombusch since he was six, acquiring him through her trainer and uncle, Cristoph Koschel. “People clapping is exactly what I want to achieve with my music. I want to have good vibes and a party in the house — I’m so happy that we achieved that.
“Even though we had some small miscommunications, we had a lot of highlights and they were definitely much brighter than the lowlights,” added Hendricks, whose groom Lauren McNabb was awarded the $500 Grooms Prize, sponsored by Massa Horses. “I’m always up for a challenge, and grand prix is challenging. But I’ve got a great horse by my side who makes this whole journey — learning as much as I possibly can — so much fun.”
For more information and results, visit https://gdf.coth.com.