USA WEG Team-Steffen & Ravel, Tina & Calecto, Todd & Otto, Katherine & Nartan
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
GLADSTONE, New Jersey, Aug. 15–Steffen Peters and Ravel will lead a squad on which his three team mates will be competing for the United States for the first time–Tina Konyot on Calecto V, Todd Flettrich on Otto and Katherine Bateson-Chandler on Nartan.
After two weekends of selection trials, the U.S. Equestrian Federation announced Sunday night the nominated entries for WEG in order of ranking are: Tina Konyot, 48, Palm City, Florida, and Calecto V; Todd Flettrich, 40, of Wellington, Florida, and Otto; Katherine Bateson-Chandler, 35, of Wellington, and Nartan; Steffen Peters, 45 of San Diego, California, and Ravel; Catherine Haddad, 46, Vechta, Germany, and Winyamaro; Pierre St. Jacques, 45, of Anthony, Florida, and Lucky Tiger; Sue Blinks, 52, of Encinitas, California, and Robin Hood and Jan Ebeling, 51, of Moorpark, California and Rafalca.
The final team will be picked when definite entries have to be filed, Sept. 22, four days before the start of the team competition.
The three team rookies showed they were the trio to beat from the first of four competitions over two weekends that U.S. Technical Advisor Anne Gribbons said was designed to be a survival of the fittest selection process for the horses to prove their physical condition and training and the riders their mental toughness. All of the riders endorsed the procedure, even though some of the horses showed some tiredness from traveling to and from Europe to compete then coming to this facility for the trials.
German-based Catherine Haddad on Winyamaro will be the reserve and said she will remain in the United States through the WEG.
The team members were so enthusiastic after the Grand Prix Freestyle Sunday morning that was the final competition–there were two Grand Prix and one Grand Prix Special–that they looked forward to battling the British team for the bronze medal when the dressage competition begins at Kentucky Sept. 26. Like most of the rest of the world, they have conceded gold to The Netherlands with their unassailable lineup of Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas and Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival, while Germany is expected to win silver.
Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, and Ravel did not have to compete at these trials that were actually the U.S. National Grand Prix Championships, based on their record over the past two years. But he flew in from California overnight after competing Ravel at a national show Saturday for their highest ever Grand Prix Score of 82.50 per cent to be with his new team mates.
The three team rookies are friends and supportive of each other, and admit to enjoying each other’s company which will be critical over the next seven weeks as the team will report back to Gladstone for mandatory training including media instruction and working with a sports psychologist beginning Sept. 4 and then head to Kentucky Sept. 18.
Anne Gribbons said that the final team members “is as good as it can possibly be.”
“After two weeks, the best has filtered down. Compared to the beginning of the year, this is glorious,” she said referring to uncertainty about American prospects and then with Leslie More’s Tip Top suffering a major colic, Olympian Guenter Seidel breaking his hip in a fall from U II. At that stage, Jane Forbes Clark had not bought Nartan from Jeanette Haazen of The Netherlands as a prospect for Katherine when two horses she was training toward the WEG were not ready.
As to their prospects at the WEG, Steffen said that he will not make a mistake he has made in the past of riding to the scoreboard, knowing a competitor’s score and thinking of how to beat it.
“That can work against you,” he said. “We will do our very best; we may know the scores but we won’t be looking at it as what we have to do.
“I know from this group we will have a great team. Everybody is quite solid.”
“Things have changed,” Tina Konyot said. “I believe we have a very strong team. I think we have a very good chance of the bronze.”
Katherine Bateson-Chandler said: “The Dutch are obviously unbeatable. Germany has some really good combinations.
“I think our chances of beating the Brits is pretty good.”
She said she is good friends with and has trained with Carl Hester and they have been exchanging emails on the chances of each team.
Todd Flettrich said he believes he has yet to have his “ultimate ride” on Otto as there is more to show.
He has been working with Oded Shimoni, the U.S.-based Israeli trainer who also coaches American three-day event riders.
As to medal prospects at WEG, “It’s always a showdown. You never know what’s going to happen. We are all mentally strong riders.”
As to format of the selection trials, Todd said it worked for him.
He was learning “to be comfortable to be uncomfortable,” meaning to deal with the stress of travel, competition and his own nerves.
“I want to fight for it,” he said.
Katherine Bateson-Chandler said the two weekend format was good as it helped develop the mental toughness required to compete at the highest level.
She has been riding Nartan for only three months since the horse was acquired by Jane Clark from Jeanette Haazen of The Netherlands. In that time, she has lived with the Haazens at their Belgium facility and went through the qualifying process in Europe, first getting the score required to compete in international shows and then getting the scores needed to be invited to Gladstone.
The intensity of the two weeks of competition during which Jeanette was by her side coaching, had solidified the partnership with Nartan and she now felt “he is now my horse.”
“This sport is not for the weak,” Tina Konyot said. “We have to weed out the weaker ones.”
Steffen Peters, the veteran of the team with Olympic and WEG medals to show for it, pointed out that the format for selecting US teams has been the same since 1996.
Tina disclosed that at the beginning of the competition she had made a private prayer.
“I can tell you now,” she said. “It was that Katherine, Todd and me would be team mates with Steffen.”
The trials achieved the goal of winnowing out combinations not capable of taking the pressure.
Of the 15 horse and rider pairs that began the National Championships, five dropped out by the end, a 33 per cent attrition rate.
The combinations that did not complete all four competitions were Susan Blinks of Encinitas, California or Robin Hood; Lauren Sammis of South Orange, New Jersey on Sagacious HF; Jane Hannigan of Harvard, Massachusetts, and Maksymilian; Elisabeth Austin of Williston, Vermont and Olivier, and Susan Jacomma of Wellington, Florida and Wadamur.
The final cumulative results of combinations that completed the trials:
1. Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida, and Calecto V – 73.320%
2. Todd Flettrich of Wellington, Florida, and Otto – 71.177%
3. Katherine Bateson-Chandler of Wellington and Nartan – 71.127%
4. Catherine Haddad of Vechta, Germany and Winyamaro – 70.006%
5. Pierre St. Jacques of Anthony, Florida, and Lucky Tiger – 69.751%
6. Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, California, and Rafalca – 68.797%
7. Adrienne Lyle of Ketchum, Idaho, and Wizard – 67.708%
8. Leslie Morse of Beverly Hills, California, and Tip Top 962 – 67.618%
9. Shawna Harding of Aiken, South Carolina and Come On III -67.288%
10. Jan Ebeling and Sandrina – 65.443%
Complete results of the Grand Prix Freestyle:
|Ring: Brown Arena|
|E: Yukins – USA||H: Gurney – USA||C: Steiner – USA||M: Fore – USA||B: Foy – USA|
|Rider||Ctzn||Horse||E %||Rk.||H %||Rk.||C %||Rk.||M %||Rk.||B %||Rk.||T %||Pl.|
|Konyot, Tina||USA||Calecto V||78.750%||0||75.500%||0||76.000%||0||73.500%||0||75.000%||0||75.750%||0|
|Morse, Leslie||USA||Tip Top 962||69.750%||0||72.500%||0||72.000%||0||74.250%||0||71.250%||0||71.950%||0|
|St Jacques, Pierre||USA||Lucky Tiger||72.500%||0||70.750%||0||72.750%||0||71.750%||0||71.000%||0||71.750%||0|
|Harding, Shawna||USA||Come On III||69.000%||0||71.000%||0||68.750%||0||71.000%||0||71.500%||0||70.250%||0|
|Sammis, Lauren||USA||Sagacious HF||0.000%||0||0.000%||0||0.000%||0||0.000%||0||0.000%||0||0.000%||0|
|Blinks, Susan||USA||Robin Hood||0.000%||0||0.000%||0||0.000%||0||0.000%||0||0.000%||0||0.000%||0|