WELLINGTON, FL (February 19, 2002) - Sue Blinks, U.S. Dressage Team Bronze Medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and her Olympic mount Flim Flam won the Grand Prix de Dressage USET/World Equestrian Games Qualifier on February 15 at the Zada Enterprises LLC Florida Dressage Classic held in conjunction with the Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach Polo and Equestrian Club in Wellington, Florida. The pair earned a 71.667%, which topped a field of 12 riders.
Tina Konyot won the USET Grand Prix Freestyle Qualifier with Justice, scoring 71.833%. The Grand Prix Special USET/WEG Qualifier was cancelled due to heavy rain.
The Zada Enterprises Dressage Classic featured qualifiers for the USET Grand Prix and Intermediaire I Championships to be held at the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions, presented by State Line Tack at the USET Olympic Training Center in Gladstone, NJ in June, and for the North American Young Riders Championships to be held at Tempel Farms in Wadsworth, IL in August. More than 230 exhibitors competed.
Flim Flam is a 15-year-old Hanoverian by William Tell out of a Cavalier mare owned by Fritz Kundrun of Mt. Kisco, NY, where Blinks is based. "Flim Flam is better than ever. He gets better every year. It's exciting watching him improve." Blinks said she continues to learn more each year about how to "build a better and stronger product." Three weeks before the competition, she attended training clinics with USET Dressage Coach Klaus Balkenhol. "It was super," she said. "It's great to have a team coach. The U.S. will really benefit from having Klaus."
Blinks said that during her winning ride in the Grand Prix she focused on where the new parts of the test were and how it was different. "I was really pleased with Flim Flam's attention. The highlight of the test was his rein back when he had to go forward and back and forward again. It's very hard technically and the judges rewarded him with a 9 and two 8s.
Konyot said the most difficult move in her freestyle was the one tempis in a circle that she does at the end. "It's really difficult for any horse. Justice just turned 11 years old in July, so he's not an old-timer doing this. You won't see too many riders demonstrate a move like that." Konyot added that there wasn't a special key to training the movement. "It's something I do well, flying changes. It's not so much about him, it's more about me."
Though the class was a qualifier for the Bayer/USET Festival Champions and the World Equestrian Games, Konyot has no intentions of aiming Justice for either Championship. "He's not on my list at all to do that," said Konyot, who placed third and fifth in the Grand Prix USET/WEG qualifier earning 68.467% with Abrikos and 66.200% with Justice. "Both of my horses will end up in the top 10, I'm fairly certain, but I don't believe Justice mentally is capable of handling the situation as far as stress and being able to carry a team. Abrikos has a better chance."
Abrikos is an 11-year-old, 16.1-hand, black Russian stallion owned by Frank Rubin. Konyot got the ride in May and has been competing on him over the summer and now into the winter season. "He's been very successful. He's proven to be a far better Grand Prix horse than anyone ever thought he would be."
21-year-old Leslie Eden of Longwood, FL, who won individual and team Gold Medals at last years North American Young Riders Championships, excelled in the Intermediaire I on her Dutch Warmblood Picasso. Eden trains with Anne Gribbons and actually bettered her coach by a fraction of a percentage point to win the Intermediaire I, bringing her one step closer to her 2002 goal of competing in the Prix St. Georges/Intermediaire Championships at the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions.
Jacqueline Paxton took a step toward competition at this years NAYRC. Paxton, of Wellington, FL and Batavia, OH, set the pace with high qualifying scores of 68.376% on her own Cinbad, a 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Celebrio that she purchased two years ago from Cesar Parra.