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Leah Wilkins & Fabian JS Top Canadian at Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI-W Grand Prix *Video!

The 2016 show season has kicked off and the hunt for a spot on Canada's Rio 2016 Olympic Team is in full swing.

Many have flocked to Florida where things got underway with the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI-W in Wellington.

The FEI Grand Prix class saw a large field of 38 competitors representing 14 different countries: ARG, AUS, BRA, CAN, DEN, DOM, ESP, GBR, GEO, PHI, POR, PUR, SWE, USA

For a large part of the day, Leah Wilkins was not only the top Canadian, but was also leading the field with a personal best score of 71.700% riding Fabian JS. 

Fabian JS is a 1999 Hanoverian gelding (x Feiner GRaf) owned by Maria Simpson. Leah, who has been long-listed with the Canadian Equestrian Team (CET) since 2004, is a terrific example of a rider who first got her feet wet in the international ring through the Young Rider levels, having won a Silver medal at the 2007 North American Junior & Young Rider Championships. Leah & Fabian JS are currently on the CET's Short List B thanks to their 2015 competitive achievements.

"I was so pleased with my ride today," exclaimed an exited Wilkins. "Fabian felt much more relaxed than I was expecting and I was worried that maybe it wasn't enough ower. But what I got in exchange was harmony and rhythm. When I saw the score come up I had tears of joy!"

Wilkins, who trains with Canadian Olympian David Marcus and Australia's Nicholas Fyffe, had plenty of reason to be overjoyed. The only athletes to better her performance that day were Sweden's seasoned international team rider Tinne Vihelmson-Silfvén who won the class aboard Don Auriello, her partner for both the 2012 Olympic Games and 2014 World Equestrian Games, and second-place current USA Grand Prix Champion Laura Graves aboard her 2014 World Equestrian Games mount Verdades. 

The Grand Prix Freestyle takes place on Friday with the Speciale being held on Saturday. 

As for Leah & Fabian JS, they are hoping to improve upon an already great competition to date.
"(Today) I school in preparation for the special. Nothing too hard, just go over the transitions from the special to remind him (and me!) of the differences from the GP." explained Wilson Wilkins. "Hope we can pull it off like (Thursday). Typically the special is his better test so fingers crossed!!!"

While the Canadian dressage criteria is being kept under lock & key by Equine Canada (a surprising move that has been largely criticized in the media due to the lack of transparency), it is known that it requires athletes to submit four scores achieved within the period of January 1, 2016 to July 1, 2016.  
A minimum of two scores must be from the Grand Prix and at least one score must be from the Grand Prix Speciale.

Many thanks to Leah who took the time out of her busy competition schedule in Florida to not only chat with us about her Grand Prix performance, but also provide us with this great video of her ride.  

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