Felicitas Hendricks Nails Her First Ever CDI5* Freestyle in AGDF 10

Felicitas Hendricks Nails Her First Ever CDI5* Freestyle in AGDF 10

Germany’s Felicitas Hendricks emerged victorious during “Friday Night Stars” in the penultimate week of CDI action at the 2024 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL.

The Douglas Elliman Real Estate CDI5* Grand Prix Freestyle and the Havensafe Farm CDI5* Grand Prix Special took place in the International Arena at Wellington International — permanent home of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) — on Friday, March 15. AGDF 2024 hosts seven weeks of CDI competition over three months and runs through March 31.

The 24-year-old Hendricks, who finished second in the five-star Special last year to Frederic Wandres (GER) went one better, topping the line-up with her own 13-year-old Destano gelding, Drombusch OLD. They scored 77.245% dancing to a disco soundtrack in their first ever five-star Freestyle. It’s easy to forget that Hendricks is still eligible to ride in the Under-25 division and not in senior ranks.

Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén rode Lövsta Stuteri’s 15-year-old Devanto (by De Chirico) to second with 74.565%, slotting between two Germans. Anna-Cristina Abbelen finished third on her own and Silke Abbelen-Mooren’s 17-year-old Samarant gelding, Sam Donnerhall, with 73.895%.

Hendricks, who with Drombusch is the reigning European Under-25 Championship gold medalist, said, “It was super fun. I loved it here last year already and I think we improved from last year, which is something really special. The atmosphere was amazing, the crowd was great and it was super nice to experience a different atmosphere. I love Global [dressage’s usual venue], but it was really fun to come here too and do it at WEF.”

Hendricks’ freestyle is of high technical difficulty, but she rode with quiet hands and invisible aids. She moved seamlessly between movements, and included tough transitions and a testing floorplan, like double pirouettes immediately out into canter half-passes. She finished with a metronomic passage and a one-handed piaffe to halt.

“Drombusch has a great passage which really feels like being on a cloud,” she enthused. “I’ve had him since he was six. I bought him from my uncle and trainer Christoph Koschel who thought that he might be the right match for me, and he turned out to be right. It’s been a long journey, but it was very rewarding and I couldn’t wish for a better dance partner. It’s even more special because we’ve gone all the way together.”

This was Drombusch’s final show of the Florida season — where he has won seven of his eight starts — as he will fly back to Germany in a week. After giving the horse a break, Hendricks will map out his summer season in Europe.

Having ridden at seven Olympics, Vilhelmson Silfvén has much experience to draw on, and she had to think on her feet when a mistake crept into her freestyle test on Devanto, which she rode to her well known “Puttin’ on the Ritz” soundtrack.

“I actually had a super feeling — the best I’ve had in a freestyle,” she explained. “Until I had a mistake, and then I lost him. So then there were more mistakes because he got upset. He thought he was going into an extended canter, but I wanted to do two-tempis, so he almost fell over. But anyway I’m happy. This is the third time he’s gone in here [the WEF arena] and every time it gets easier. The atmosphere was great tonight.”

Read more:

Global Dressage Festival LLC (coth.com)