Anna Marek and Fayvel got the crowd on their feet and clapping to the beat of their winning performance in the ‘Friday Night Stars’ FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle, sponsored by The Dutta Corp, on Friday, February 9. This is the second of three World Cup™ legs hosted this year by the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) circuit in Wellington, Florida.
From last draw, Marek rode the 14-year-old Zizi Top x Houston gelding Fayvel to 78.457%, eclipsing their previous best of 77.715%, set during AGDF 1. The British five-star judge Stephen Clarke awarded the pair’s high score of 81.1%. Their win handed them 20 FEI ranking points, enough to secure a starting berth at the FEI World Cup™ Final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (April 16-20).
Just as in Thursday’s qualifying Grand Prix class, Kevin Kohmann slotted into second behind Marek, chalking up 75.89% on Diamante Farms’s 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding Dünensee (Dancier x Davignon). Susan Dutta piloted her own and her husband Tim’s 14-year-old Don Design DC (Der Designer x Sir Donnerhall) to third with 73.31%, rounding out the all-American podium.
To strains of Kygo’s ‘At Least We Stole the Show’ and remixes of ‘Let’s Dance’ put together by Karen Robinson, Marek came out all guns blazing, pulling off a technically challenging test with power and risk. Spectators started whooping when she rode a half-20m circle of two-time changes which melted seamlessly into a diagonal of one-time changes. Marek’s groom Kate Esterline was awarded the $500 grooms prize, sponsored by Massa Horses.
“Today it was really a fun ride,” enthused Marek, who took over Fayvel’s competitive reins from owner Cynthia Davila full time only in the fall of 2023. “I was so happy with how willing he was even in such a big atmosphere; he can walk on a long rein next to all those cheering people.
“I’ve known him and ridden him for a long time, but not in CDIs or trying to qualify for a championship. The last couple of shows I’ve been thrilled with him and we’re getting better together so fast — it’s really great,” added Marek, who is based near Ocala, FL and trains with Ann Gribbons.
In an all-American field of nine starters in the second of five rounds of the Lövsta Future Challenge FEI Intermediate II — a class for developing grand prix horses aged eight to 11 years old — Andrea Woodard claimed the top score. She rode the nine-year-old gelding Kaliber (Franklin x Rubin Royal OLD) to 69.941%, repeating their win in this class during AGDF 3.
Runner-up Amanda Perkowski scored 69.559% on Valour Performance Horses LLC’s nine-year-old Sir Donnerhall daughter Sonata MF, handing them a coveted place in the AGDF week 12 final. As Woodard had already qualified on Kaliber, the second direct ticket to the final passed down to third-placed Tina Konyot and J Everdale (68.412%).
For more information and results, visit https://gdf.coth.com.