Shandiss McDonald and Rockfield Grant Juan offered an exciting conclusion to Day 1 of dressage at Rolex by performing a brilliant dressage test to score 45.7 to move into third place. Aside from one small bobble when the horse broke to the trot in the free walk, this was a very relaxed, accurate test with beautiful changes and canter work in general. Shandiss and Rockfield Grant Juan received a big cheer from the crowd on their final salute and are now poised for a very good weekend should things go their way. This pair can be extremely dangerous and will definitely be ones to watch for the rest of the weekend. Lynn Symansky and Donner also put in a nice test coming off a win in The Fork CIC3*. Lynn rode very well despite riding with a broken pinky and a cast on her right hand. Their test started out a bit rocky when Donner tried to canter out of the halt, but he looked fantastic in the reinback and much more obedient for the rest of the test. Lynn pulled this test together really well and scored a 54.8 to move into eighth.
Buck Davidson and Mar De Amor are right behind Lynn and Donner in ninth place on a 55.2. This test had some really nice moments, and Buck should be very happy with this horse’s first CCI4* dressage test. Aside from a few cheat steps during the canter depart out of the rein back, there were no major bobbles in this test. Kristi Nunnink and R-Star are sitting just behind Buck and Mar De Amor in 10th place on a 55.3. I love this mare; she is super fancy and has incredibly correct gaits. R-Star looked very keen throughout the test and aside from missing a change, this was a very nice performance from this pair. Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin & Juice walked into the Rolex stadium like they owned the place. This was not their best work today, with Ginny looking tense and fussy throughout the test. Hawley and Ginny are sitting in 14th on a 59.8. Cross country is where this pair really shines, so they’ll be in their element come Saturday.
Sally Cousins and Tsunami unfortunately had an error in their test when she turned to the left in her canter depart coming out of the rein back. She also struggled a bit to hold the counter canter serpentine, but Sally and Sue are still within striking distance in 15th place on 60.2. That concludes the rides on Day 1 of dressage at Rolex. The current leaders are Andrew Nicholson and Calico Joe in first on a 40.8, Becky Holder and Can’t Fire Me in second on a 44.2, and Shandiss McDonald and Rockfield Grant Juan in third on a 45.7. We have some heavy hitters set to go on Day 2 tomorrow, with James Allison and Jumbo’s Jake kicking things off at 10 a.m. We saw some truly lovely tests today, with quite a few Rolex first-timers stepping up to tackle their first CCI4* tests. Be sure to check in later today for Samantha’s wonderful interviews and photos. Go Rolex.