Steffen Peters & Legolas Take Del Mar World Cup Grand Prix in 2nd Best Ever Scoring USA Combination

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Steffen Peters and Legolas in Grand Prix at Dressage Affaire Del Mar. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

DEL MAR, California, Mar. 9–Steffen Peters and Legolas, the horse he has been riding only since Christmas, were victorious in the Dressage Affaire World Cup Grand Prix Friday, to become only the second U.S. combination to score so high in the Grand Prix, 75.809 per cent. Only Steffen on Ravel has exceeded that score at Grand Prix, according to a dressage-news.com review of official records.

In the Grand Prix for the Freestyle that he rode only because he could not ride both horses in the Olympic Grand Prix Special, there were widely differing scores–as much as nine percentage points between the high and low ends–but the three other scores were close to the average in what was the horse’s third international competition. The pair competed twice at Burbank, California, two weeks ago.

Jan Ebeling and Rafalca, the only other combination in the event that is the last qualifying competition for the World Cup Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosh, The Netherlands, April 18-22, are seeking to compete in their third global championship.

The pair scored a personal best of 71.468 per cent, surpassing their previous high at Grand Prix of 70.872 per cent at Hagen, Germany, almost a year ago.

Jan of Moorpark, California, and the 15-year-old Oldenburg mare (Argentinius x Ratine x Rubinstein) competed at the 2009 World Cup Final in Las Vegas and last year’s Final in Leipzig, Germany.

Jan Ebeling and Rafalce at Del Mar. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The Freestyle will be held Saturday. Steffen and Legolas cannot qualify for the Final as this it will be their sole Freestyle score and two are required.

The event at the Del Mar Horsepark attracted only a smattering of spectators, barely outnumbering the two scribes assigned to the five judges, officials, media and those associated with the two combinations.

A U.S. Equestrian Federation high performance dressage committee decision to not require any freestyle scores in qualifyng for the U.S Olympic team has shifted the crowd-pleasing freestyles from centerstage to backstage despite record prize money by organizers.

However, on Friday night under lights, both combinations gave it their all and were rewarded by enthusiastic applause.

Legolas, Steffen said after the event, was “probably the best Christmas present I ever got” from owners Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki, who also own Ravel. The horse arrived at his stables the day before Christmas.

“To get 75 per cent in his first time at night under lights in only his fourth competition,” Steffen said of the three international and one national classes they havec ompeted in, ” I’m just so excited. That Jerry and Akiko gave me a chance to have another superstar, is just phenomenal. To have one superstar in my life, Ravel, is amazing, to have two…”

Steffen of nearby San Diego credited Ullrich Kasselmann of Performance Sales International of Germany for the training on Legolas that has helped make the partnership “click” from the start.

He said he needs to be careful about riding Legolas with any adrenaline because the horse is hot and exciteable and performs best when he is relaxed.

In the Grand Prix, he said, when Legolas settled down after the first three movements, “he felt like clockwork, he was the whole package including batteries.”

He doubts the horse would have been good for him 20 years ago, “but now I’m learning more patience. It’s a really, really fun relationship and a fun experience.”

As to the score discrepancies, he said, he and Akiko look at the negative results to learn what improvements can be made.

“At the end of the day,” Steffen said, “75 per cent is nothing to complain about.”

Legolas will use a hand-me-down simplified version of Ravel’s Cold Play Freestyle in their Saturday performance.

CDI FEI Grand Prix for Freestyle

E: Fore 4* H: Svalling 5* C: Jena 4* M: McCartney 4* B: McDonald 4*
Rider Horse E H C M B Total % Place
Steffen Peters Legolas 43 362.5 357 332.5 354 375.5 1781.5 75.809% 1
Jan Ebeling Rafalca 335.5 342 323 334 345 1679.5 71.468% 2