USA 4th in WEG Team Competition
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LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Sept. 28–A U.S. team with only one rider experienced in world championships came within 2.467 percentage points of pulling off a miracle at the World Equestrian Games Tuesday, placing fourth to powerhouse Holland and Germany and European silver medalists Great Britain.
The Grand Prix team finale hung in the balance until the very last of the 65 combinations from around the world entered the arena–Steffen Peters and his 2009 World Cup champion mount Ravel owned by Akiko Yamazaki after two days of perhaps the most dramatic and competitive global championship.
Steffen of San Diego, California, needed to score not higher than the pair ever had in a championship, let alone a WEG that is held only once every four years and on their home turf for the first time. Todd Flettrich and Otto and Katherine Bateson-Chandler on Nartan, both riders from Wellington, Florida, rode Monday
Steffen and Ravel finished third individually on 78.596 per cent behind world No. 1 Edward Gal and Totilas of The Netherlands on 84.043 per cent and British superstar Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris, the third ranked combination, on 82.511 per cent. And all of the British pairs notched personal best results.
The top team results
||A. Cornelissen / E. Gal / H. Minderhoud / I. Schellekens-Bartels||229.75|
||L. Bechtolsheimer / F. Bigwood / M. Eilberg / C. Hester||224.77|
||A. Balkenhol / C. Koschel / M. Rath / I. Werth||220.60|
||S. Peters / T. Konyot / K. Bateson-Chandler / T. Flettrich||218.13|
Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida, on the 12-year-old Danish stallion Calecto V was the first American rider on the second day of the team competition in the Kentucky Horse Park’s Main Arena. They scored 69.915 per cent to place 16th individually.
A mistake in the final centerline passage to the piaffe occurred, Tina said, when Calecto “stopped and thought it was over and then he picked up the piaffe again. It was sheer stupidity on my part. All I had to do was close my legs a little bit and keep riding him.”
“I wanted to do the best I possibly could and I didn’t do the best I possibly could,” she said. “It was good and I’m happy, but I wanted to do better for them. I know how much support everybody has been giving each other and I know that that horse has it in him. He’s a very special horse.”
Of her first championship event, she said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, a great, great feeling to be on a team.”
Steffen and the 12-year-old Dutch gelding by Contango, received a boisterous welcome into the arena and a standing ovation when they left.
“It’s always very, very special,” her said of riding before an American audience. “There’s no doubt that there’s that electricity from an American crowd that is very, very hard to reproduce anywhere else in the world. I could feel the electricity on the last centerline. I just couldn’t wait to get out there and make a circle around the scoreboard and take a look at the final scores.”
Steffen said that 78 per cent was one of the highest scores on Ravel, “exactly the score we had last year in Las Vegas” when they won the World Cup title.
“To keep it up and maintain that is just as hard as bringing a horse up to this level,” he said. “I’m obviously very, very happy with a 78. I’ve done the mistake before where I’ve chased the scoreboard. That was last year at Florida. It was one of my worst tests ever. Today I rode exactly what Ravel was offering.”
Finishing in the top three was “awesome.”
Of the final team result, he said, “Fourth place for our team is a little bit disappointing, and there’s no doubt that I really wanted to get the bronze medal for the team, especially after we came so close in Hong Kong. I came out of the ring and said, ‘Sorry guys, it’s not quite enough, but it’s awfully close.’ For the three rookies on the team, I thought they did a wonderful job.”
U.S. Dressage Managing Director and Chef d’Equipe Eva Salomon said of the result: “Our goal was to qualify for the Olympics, and we did that. Now that we are qualified for the Olympic Games, for next year we can start to plan how to get our riders over to Europe, go to the big events there, and go to other CDIO team competitions. We hope to have at least six to eight riders so that we have a strong base for the Olympics.”