Barbançon and Helgstrand are Untouchable in Week 5 of the 2023 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival

Barbançon and Helgstrand are Untouchable in Week 5 of the 2023 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival

France’s Morgan Barbançon and Habana Libre A claimed the winner’s blanket in the day’s headline class, the CDI3* Grand Prix Special, sponsored by MTICA Farm. The Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, Florida, hosts seven weeks of CDI competition and runs through April 2.

Barbançon’s 71.66% on her own 11-year-old gelding — by Zizi Top out of a United dam — is their second highest score ever in this test. Of the 15 starters, the trio of riders on the podium remained unchanged from Friday’s qualifying Grand Prix, but the 22-year-old German sensation Felicitas Hendricks climbed a place to net second. She rode her own 12-year-old gelding Drombusch 2 (Destano x Dimaggio) to 70.362% in the pair’s debut senior international show at the level. Her compatriot Anna-Christina Abbelen, 26, piloted her 16-year-old Samarant gelding Sam Donnerhall to 69.723% and third place.

“I’m extremely happy and it was great to win,” enthused the 30-year-old Barbançon, who is spending her first season in Wellington. “Habana was a wee bit tired today but still tried. The whole passage/trot part was nice, and I was really happy with the walk. The piaffes were a little bit less [powerful] than two weeks ago, but it was cooler then and really warm today.

“I don’t normally get affected by the heat, but yesterday I already had to use a new frack [tailcoat] because it was drenched. This is the second one going to the dry cleaners. But I prefer that to the frostbite I get at home.”

Barbançon, who is based in Switzerland, has ridden and produced Habana since he was a youngster, bringing him up through the levels from young horse classes. He is one of three Grand Prix horses she has brought to AGDF.

“Havana is a big baby that tries so hard,” she continued. “It’s all about not making mistakes because when he does he gets so stressed. That’s why I don’t push him in there for the moment. I want him to figure out that it’s cool and a good experience. He was maybe too cool in there, and in those piaffes I could have maybe kicked a bit more and woken him up. He was really peace and love today — next time I can push a notch more.”

She concluded, “It’s just so nice to be here, as it’s not so many kilometers for the [horses to get to the] shows and Habana can get experience. It’s all about making him confident. He’s still a big baby, but he tries so hard for me.”

Andreas Helgstrand’s 19-year-old son Alexander Yde Helgstrand and Belantis — formerly ridden by Isabell Werth — made it two wins from two starts in AGDF 5, topping Saturday’s hotly contested Intermediate I CDI1*, presented by Centerline Stables. They also won Thursday’s Prix St. Georges class. Helgstrand was also competing his mother’s horse Super Mario in the under-25s, and two wins in that division — at Intermediate II and Grand Prix — brought his tally of CDI blue ribbons for the week to four.

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