USA Names Team for CHIO Aachen, First in Four Years

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LEXINGTON, Kentucky, May 26–The United States will field a dressage team of three horse and rider combinations led by 2009 FEI World Cup champions Steffen Peters and Ravel at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen, Germany in July. It will be the first USA squad to compete as a team at Aachen since 2005 when the Americans won bronze behind The Netherlands that topped the German team on their home turf.

Team USA will be made up of Steffen Peters and Ravel, 2009 FEI World Cup champions, Catherine Haddad and Cadillac, runnersup in the Exquis World Dressage Masters Grand Prix Special to Music at Munich on May 23, and 2008 World Cup Finalist Jane Hannigan and Maksymilian.

Will there be enough World Cup shows on West for Steffen Peters & Ravel to defend their title. © 2009 Ken Braddick
Steffen Peters & Ravel, 2009 FEI World Cup champions. © 2009 Ken Braddick

The CDIO in Aachen is the biggest team event on the international equestrian calendar in 2009–the FEI World Cup that was held in Las Vegas in mid-April is for individuals. Dressage competition at Aachen is held in its own 5,000-seat Deutsche Bank stadium, a spectacular venue that permanent facility that is expected to be packed for the five days of dressage scheduled from Wednesday, July 1 to Sunday, July 5 and highlighted by the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music CDI under lights.

“We are excited to be a part of the U.S. team to compete Ravel in Europe for the first time since Akiko Yamazaki acquired this wonderful horse in 2007,” Peters said from his base in San Diego, Calif.

“We look forward to performing before the crowds of very knowledgeable and appreciative fans in Aachen where the competition will no doubt be the toughest in the world.”

Peters and Ravel finished fourth in the 2008 Olympics individual competition behind The Netherlands’ Any van Grunsven on Salinero and Germany’s Isabell Werth on Satchmo and Heike Kemmer on Bonaparte.

But their victory over Werth and Satchmo and van Grunsven and IPS Painted Black  at the World Cup in April established the combination as among the top on the world.

The competition in Aachen is the only European appearance scheduled for the pair as owner Akiko Yamazaki and Peters have agreed on a show calendar that is limited to the top events in the world. Their goal is the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010.

Haddad, who lives in Vechta, Germany, was the reserve on Maximus JSS for the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, and she competed on Maximus in the World Cup Final in Las Vegas in 2007. She showed either Maximus or Cadillac in every 2008/2009 West European League World Cup events. The steadily improving Cadillac was runnerup in the Grand Prix Special at the Exquis World Dressage Masters in Munich in May.

Catherine Haddad and Cadillac at the Exquis World Dressage Masters in Munich in May. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Catherine Haddad and Cadillac at the Exquis World Dressage Masters in Munich in May. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Hannigan of Harvard, Mass. and Maksymilian, a 15-year-old KWPN gelding, posted a top 12 finish at the 2008 Dressage World Cup in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.

The pair also competed in the inaugural Exquis World Dressage Masters at Palm Beach in January, 2009.

Jane Hannigan and Maksymilian at the Exquis World Dressage Masters in Palm Beach. © 2009 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Jane Hannigan and Maksymilian at the Exquis World Dressage Masters in Palm Beach. © 2009 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

In addition to the three horse/rider combinations, the team will be led by Gil Merrick, the U.S. Equestrian Federation Assistant Executive Director, Sport Programs. Jessica Ranshousen, two-time Olympian as chef d’equipe, and Dr. Rick Mitchell, team veterinarian.

Germany is certain to field its strongest team, most likely featuring the world’s top ranked combination, Isabell Werth and Satchmo, who won silver at the 2008 Olympics and was second to Peters in Las Vegas. But the pair demonstrated they are back in top form when winning the Grand Prix Kür at the €100,000 (US$140,000) Exquis World Dressage Masters in Munich May 24.

The Netherlands, meantime, is going through a period of uncertainty at the highest levels with both IPS Painted Black ridden by Anky van Grunsven, and Parzival ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen sidelined with injuries.

However, both Germany and Holland have considerable depth in top riders and horses that will be on display at their respective national championships in June after which the teams for Aachen will be announced.

Since the 2005 team, the U.S. competed at Aachen in 2007 with Peters and Lombardi II and Courtney King-Dye and Idocus in the CDIO while Arlene Page and Wild One and Haddad on Maximus JSS rode in the CDI individual event.