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Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven Returns to AGDF to Win Palm Beach Dressage Derby FEI Grand Prix

RELEASE: March 1, 2014
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Don Auriello (SusanJ.Stickle.com)
Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Don Auriello (SusanJ.Stickle.com)
Wellington, Fla.
- Sweden's Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven earned the first victory of the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W during Week 8 of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). Vilhelmson-Silfven and Lövsta Stuteri's Don Auriello, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding out of Wey o Mey x Don Davidoff, topped the FEI Grand Prix, presented by Martha W. Jolicoeur and Maria Mendelsohn of Illustrated Properties. Later in the day, Silva Martin (USA) bested the FEI Prix St. Georges with her homebred Australian Warmblood mare, Rosa Cha W.

The feature event of the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W, the FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix Freestyle, will take place Saturday evening at The Stadium at PBIEC. The evening will also feature an exciting American Mustang exhibition as well as musical entertainment from the Frost School of Music at University of Miami. Talented young singer Kristin Sponica will perform with keyboard accompaniment from Danielle Werz.

Vilhelmson-Silfven and Don Auriello finished first in the FEI Grand Prix with a score of 77.400%, while American Adrienne Lyle was second on Wizard with a score of 71.980%. Mikala Gundersen (DEN) was third with My Lady with their score of 71.660%.

Vilhelmson-Silfven was quite happy with Don Auriello's performance after a few weeks away from the showgrounds. She had planned from the beginning to give the gelding plenty of time off. Vilhelmson-Silfven felt Don Auriello didn't need to go in the arena for the sake of experience and has focused more on tweaking aspects of the test at home.

"He's not impressed at all by competing. Every horse is different that way, and he just loves it. I had a good feeling, and I think it was a clear round. A little bit [of error] in the passage maybe, but those things that I've been trying to get working at home, trying to get him to react more quickly," Vilhelmson-Silfven commented.

She continued, "It's always a process to try and get him even better and better. For him, it's to get more strong and more mature and really show off and use his hind legs and be in power when he goes into the arena. He's always an on-going horse. He's so nice to ride in there, but of course we try to make it even better."

Instead of Saturday night's freestyle competition, Vilhelmson-Silfven will instead contest the FEI Grand Prix Special on Sunday morning with Don Auriello as a practice run for championships later this year.

"I'm doing the Special, because I'm already [qualified for] the [Reem Acra FEI] World Cup [Dressage Finals], so I thought it was a wonderful opportunity for him to do one special since he usually only does that in championships," Vilhelmson-Silfven explained.

Lyle admitted she may not have planned on doing two weeks of CDI competition back-to-back, but after Wizard's performances in the Stillpoint Farm CDIO Nations Cup, she couldn't pass up the chance to potentially qualify for the FEI World Cup Dressage Finals herself.

"I kind of was planning on doing one or the other originally, and then we ended up getting selected for the Nations Cup team and I thought that was a wonderful opportunity. And then he did so well in the freestyle, I thought, 'Wouldn't it be stupid if I'm sitting here in Wellington and could have qualified for the World Cup but didn't give it a shot?' Lyle explained.

After giving Wizard four days off before trail riding for a day and returning to the AGDF showgrounds to school, Lyle was pleased to see him remain in top form during their test.

Like Vilhelmson-Silfven, Gundersen had given her horse some time off before returning for Friday's test. Munter Gundersen was happy with My Lady, especially after having a bit of a tense warm-up session.

"When I was in the warm-up today, Lady got really nervous and didn't really like to take the bit so much and just was sucking back a little bit. Something was making her really tense, and that made me a little bit nervous. So when I went in, I was hesitating a bit, so even though she did a pretty nice test, I wasn't really riding. I could have pushed her much more, but I was more like 'Whoa,' but I didn't need to because she was totally relaxed!" Gundersen described.

She continued, "I still don't know her so well. She was really good. I was very pleased with her. She's so good in the ring now, I have to trust it a little bit more and go for it. I will tomorrow!"

Of her seventh time finishing third in as many weeks, Gundersen joked, "This was my seventh yellow ribbon out of seven rides. They call me the 'Yellow Lady.' We're practicing for Germany, because then it means first place!"

Silva Martin and Rosa Cha W (SusanJ.Stickle.com)
Silva Martin and Rosa Cha W (SusanJ.Stickle.com)
The FEI Prix St. Georges immediately followed FEI Grand Prix competition, with American Silva Martin coming out on top with Rosa Cha W, an eight-year-old Australian Warmblood mare out of Jasmine W by Blue Hors Romanov owned by the Rosa Cha W Syndicate.

Martin characterized their test as the best she's had with the mare, particularly because she felt she rode better. Martin credited much of her progress over the last six weeks to coach Debbie McDonald.

"I so much enjoy working with Debbie. I've been working with her for a while now. She's helped me so much, and she makes me very confident. Over the last six weeks, it's just been getting better and better and better. I love having her at the ring!" Martin expressed.

Of her test today, Martin commented, "She can be a little bit of a tense mare. She gets a little tight sometimes, but today she was really relaxed and I let her do her job. Sometimes I override things and she does it better on her own, actually!"

Friday's win was especially meaningful for Martin as she and husband Boyd, an Olympian eventer, bred the mare themselves.

"I was there when she was born. It's emotional for me because she's come such a long way, and I've had her all her life," Martin smiled.

Martin's husband was on hand to cheer her on, which Martin especially enjoyed since it was the first time he had attended one of her tests.

"Boyd is not easy to get away, so it was exciting that he came and that I won when he was here. That was awesome. He's leaving tomorrow morning, so he won't see tomorrow. He's a terrible spectator, but it's so exciting that he's here," Martin remarked.

Also in the crowd was American show jumping legend George H. Morris, who stopped by the AGDF to watch Martin ride after hosting a clinic with Martin's husband in Aiken, SC.

"Wasn't that an honor? That made me more nervous than anybody else being here! He was so nice and said 'I love watching you ride.' It was exciting that he was here. He came here specifically to watch me. He was teaching Boyd last week, so it was pretty cool having him here!" Martin concluded.

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