Graves and Matute Jr. Lead Individual Standings While Team USA Dominates in Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations' Cup CDIO*** at AGDF

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Thursday 31 March - 18h25 | Carly Weilminster

Graves and Matute Jr. Lead Individual Standings While Team USA Dominates in Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations' Cup CDIO*** at AGDF

The Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations' Cup CDIO*** began today at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), showcasing the FEI Prix St. Georges CDIO*** and FEI Grand Prix CDIO*** in the Van Kampen Covered Arena at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).

 - Graves and Matute Jr. Lead Individual Standings While Team USA Dominates in Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations' Cup CDIO*** at AGDF

Laura Graves and Verdades
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Juan Matute Jr. (ESP) and Dhannie Ymas move into tomorrow's phase of competition leading the Small Tour division, while Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades earned big marks from the judges to secure the top place moving towards the FEI Grand Prix Special CDIO 3* tomorrow afternoon. Team competition at AGDF concludes tomorrow with the FEI Intermediaire I and FEI Grand Prix Special CDIO 3*, while individual awards will be recognized on Friday, April 1, following the final "Friday Night Stars" FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Stillpoint Farm, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Teams competing in the Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations' Cup include the United States, Canada, Spain, Denmark, Costa Rica, and Australia.

Kasey Perry-Glass (USA) and Goerklintgaards Dublet finished the FEI Grand Prix CDIO 3* in second place with a 73.000%, while Mikala Gundersen (DEN) and My Lady captured third place with a 72.240%. For computing team scores, the Large Tour combinations are given an extra 1.5 point bonus.
Graves and Verdades received a season high 76.860% and with the added 1.5 point bonus in Large Tour CDIO competition, sit on a 78.360% moving into the FEI Grand Prix Special CDIO 3* class tomorrow. Graves is looking forward to the Special as she will expect another strong performance from Verdades. 
"The last time that the show was forced inside, we had one of our lowest scores. Coming back in, especially in a team situation when everyone is counting on you as the anchor, I kept hoping that what happened last time wasn't a normal thing and an anomaly," said Graves. "We really wanted to conquer that today, and we did. He was just great. He gave me that same feeling that we had in the indoor before, but I was just able to ride it better this time."
"I thought the zig-zag was great. The canter tour and the pirouettes felt super nice as well," she continued. "We had an unusual mistake in the walk for us, but it was totally my fault. Now when things are perfect, I start to test and see how honest he is. It was a mistake; he was a little bit too sensitive for that." 
Graves quickly commented on the importance of riding in Nations' Cup competition, especially when representing that United States in team competition is not something one can easily take for granted. With a few small steps of jigging in the walk tour, Graves felt that she and "Diddy" left a few costly marks on the table. 
"The mistake today in the walk was disappointing for me because you know you're riding for a team. If it was just for me, I probably would have laughed it off more, but he was so good everywhere else. It just proved that we need to study there more," explained Graves. "It an unusual thing because the walk is so delicate in the show arena, and it's always so expensive. You don't want to have to train it in there, but it's really the only place you can."
"It's a real honor to compete on a team and it's different because no matter what, you have to show up for everybody else. As much as we can sometimes want to be down on ourselves or pick on our flaws, having a team around you makes you have to stick together and stay positive," continued Graves, who is representing Team USA for the second consecutive year in Wellington, FL.
"You have to be there for one another. It's amazing. This Team USA we have right now, goes far beyond the Nations' Cup team that we have here. There's all of these American riders who show up and we watch each other ride and watch each other school. It's nice having that camaraderie before we have to take it into a little bit bigger pond."
Juan Matute Jr. and Dhannie Ymas impressed in the FEI Prix St. Georges CDIO 3* class with a score of 71.868%. The class was also held in Van Kampen Covered Arena due to inclement weather. Raul Corchuelo (COL) and Beckham earned second place with a 69.395%, while Katharina Stumpf (AUT) and For My Love stand in third place with 67.500%. 
Matute Jr. has campaigned Dhannie Ymas through the circuit this season, recording top results aboard the 2007 Hanoverian gelding (Don Crusador x Welina) in their first season contesting the upper levels. 
"I'm feeling very happy and proud. We made some mistakes that we need to improve before tomorrow's test, but overall I think I had a great feeling in the test," explained Matute Jr. describing his test. "Dhannie felt comfortable, but he doesn't really like the covered arena as much as outside. It's interesting how some horses perform better in different atmospheres, but overall I was really happy." 
"With this test over the season I tried to get more towards the softer aids and the lightness in the contact, just making everything a bit easier. We're riding horses and (try to) make everything as simple as possible and look easy. Little by little I think we've improved that this season," he smiled.
The pair had a slight moment of miscommunication in their first pirouette, but Matute Jr. continued on through the test with poise and accuracy, leading to their impressive score of 71.868%. 
"We had a big mistake in the first pirouette. He can do them perfectly, but we just had a bit of a miscommunication," explained Matute. "He's a young horse, just nine years old, and it's fine. We've been doing Young Riders for most of the season, and I think we've progressed a lot." 
In his third Nation's Cup appearance for Team Spain at AGDF, Matute has solidified himself as an incredibly talented and motivated phenom of the sport, as the international experience he continues to gain only benefits his riding and training. In 2014, Matute earned the individual silver medal in Nations' Cup competition aboard his Don Diego Ymas, which he still considers one of the greatest highlights of his young but budding career. 
"In 2013, the team was made up of myself, my sister, and my father, and my mother was the chef d' equipe, so it was pretty neat that it was our whole family. We came in fifth that year, and 2014 was a huge highlight for us because I placed second individually on Don Diego [Ymas] who is now my Grand Prix horse," he noted. 
The Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations' Cup CDIO 3* team competition concludes tomorrow featuring the FEI Intermediaire I CDIO 3* and the FEI Grand Prix Special CDIO 3* at AGDF. Individual competition will conclude on Friday, April 1, with the FEI Intermediaire I Freestyle CDIO 3* and the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO 3*, each presented by Stillpoint Farm.

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