Laura Graves Posts Highest Ever Score At Dressage Festival

Laura Graves en route to her AGDF victory. Photo by Susan J. Stickle

Laura Graves and Verdades comfortably captured the FEI World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle presented by the U.S. P.R.E. Association on Friday, Jan. 26 with a mesmerizing performance on her own and Curt Maes’ 2016 Rio Olympic team bronze medalist Verdades. The pair’s emphatic 84.675 percent is the best score ever given at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, the annual 12-week dressage circuit in Wellington.

Ranked fourth in the world, Graves and Verdades’ floorplan exudes complexity, and includes passage half-pass, two-time changes on a curve melting into one-times and ultra-steep trot half-passes.

“He is such a hot horse that I rode him three times today,” said Graves, 30, who trains with Debbie MacDonald. “We brought him out at lunch time, and with the wind, he was a little crazy. We were a little concerned, as we know what he can be like. But I am excited about this score.”

Graves crafted the test, which carries a high degree of difficulty, for the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy when she was unexpectedly selected.

Although this was their third highest score ever, Graves will be altering the floorplan ahead of the upcoming CDI5* AGDF show.

He’s such a clever horse that he guesses what’s going to happen, which is why we’re going to change it,” she explained.

Sweden’s seven-time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén filled second on Lövsta Stuteri’s 15-year-old gelding Paridon Magi with 79.05 percent, while Shelly Francis partnered Patricia Stempel’s ever-improving 14-year-old Danilo, by De Niro, to third place with 76.15 percent.

The 12-week 2018 AGDF runs through March 31. For more information and results, visit