Adrienne Lyle and Salvino kick off their Tokyo Olympic bid with resounding victory in AGDF 2020 week 8

It was a full day of grand prix level action on the second day of week eight of the 2020 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida. There were four classes at the level, two three-star classes, and two four-star. AGDF 2020 runs for 12 weeks, through March 29.

All eyes were on the USA's Adrienne Lyle in the the FEI Grand Prix CDI4*, presented by Mission Control, who brought out her top horse, Salvino, for the first time this season, marking the start of their bid for a Tokyo Olympics place. They did not disappoint and led the class with a commanding 76.87%, their equal second highest-ever score in this test. Another Olympic hopeful, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (USA) finished second with 72.935% on Lonoir and Lindsay Kellock (CAN) slotted into third on Sebastien with 69.826%. 

Lyle’s test on Betsy Juliano’s 13-year-old stallion by Sandro Hit was a masterclass in harmony, and it was rewarded with clutches of nines, particularly for the light-footed passage and piaffe. The pair — who have not competed since Aachen in July 2019 — garnered a high score of 79.239% from the judge at C, Germany’s Henning Lehrmann. 
“I’m thrilled with him; that’s one of the best feelings I’ve had in there,” said Lyle, who is ranked 20th in the world with Salvino. “He feels so happy and super excited to be here. Ever since he came on the grounds he’s been puffed up and ready to go and I was really happy with how focused he was despite all of his energy; it’s a great combination to be able to ride. It’s the balance that we’re always trying to find: to have that hotness and that fire and still have him be really rideable, with no mistakes, a clean test and focused was just wonderful.” 

Of her decision not to compete in the previous week’s five-star CDI, she said: “In a year like this, you have to come out strong, especially when we did have a bit of a break. I really wanted to make sure everyone knows that he’s been fit and great and he really does feel good. We’re just trying to think of the big picture and always make the best decisions for him, so for fitness reasons we decided that the best plan would be to give him one more week of building up his fitness.”
After Aachen, Salvino travelled to Kylee Lourie’s farm in Denver, Colorado, for some down time. The pair arrived in Wellington on November 1 and have been training with Debbie McDonald, preparing for this 2020 season debut. Salvino’s schedule consists of lessons two or three times a week, as well as sessions on the Aquatread and conditioning work in the jumping field at Kylee Lourie’s TyL Farm, just down the road from AGDF. 
“It’s all about keeping his body and his mind happy,” added Lyle. “Our big goal is to qualify to go with the US riders to Europe in the hopes of trying to qualify for Tokyo. There’s a lot of stars that have to align for that, but mapping out our big goal, that’s what we’d love to shoot for.”

Kiichi Harada is on a roll. The Japanese rider only clocked his first ever win outside his home country a week ago, but has since then landed two more winners’ coolers aboard his long-time partner, Egistar. Today the pair stood supreme in the FEI Grand Prix CDI4*, presented by Havensafe Farm. Egistar is a 17-year-old KWPN gelding by Cabochon who is owned by Hanuka Taguchi. 

Harada scored 68.065%, edging out the USA’s Jessica Jo Tate on Faberge, who claimed second with 67.739%. Her compatriot Jessica Kozel rode Jeevraj Grewal’s 17-year-old De Niro gelding Denzello to 67.413% and third place.  

Thirteen starters contested the FEI Grand Prix CDI3*, presented by The Brooke USA. It was Canada’s Diane Creech, who came out on top of the class, which served as the qualifier for Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3*, partnering Louise Leatherdale’s 12-year-old Chrevis Christo, by Lavallo. 
Creech recorded a score of 67.935%, but second-placed Sarah Lockman wasn’t far behind on 67.348%. Lockman was riding First Apple, Summit Farm’s 10-year-old stallion by Vivaldi in their first CDI since their unbeaten run of three small tour tests to take individual gold at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru in July 2019. This was the pair’s first international show at grand prix level. Lockman’s compatriot Nora Batchelder finished third with 66.522% riding Sally Seaver’s 17-year-old American-bred mare W Gangster Girl, by Sieger.