Steffen Peters Completes Sweep of Del Mar World Cup Event with Best Ever Special Result on Ravel

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Steffen Peters and Ravel in the Olympic Grand Prix Special. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

DEL MAR, California, Mar. 11–Steffen Peters and Ravel posted their best ever Grand Prix Special score in completing a sweep of the World Cup event at the Rancho Valencia Dressage Affaire Sunday, and the top American rider served notice he will seek for Ravel to be excused from the U.S. Olympic selection trials.

Steffen and the 14-year-old KWPN gelding (Contango x Hautain x Democraat) scored 80.289 per cent in their first Olympic Grand Prix Special–a shortened version of the Special that will be the second phase of the team competition at the London Games. With his result from the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, last July the pair are now qualified for the American selection trials.

Günter Seidel and Fandango. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
and the 16-year-old Fandango (the horse’s passport list the horse’s age incorrectly as 17, he said) that he has been riding for only one month was second on 70.422 per cent in only their second CDI and Kathlen Raine and Breanna were third on 70.400 per cent.

Steffen on Ravel, his 2009 World Cup champion and medal-winning World Equestrian Games mount, won the Grand Prix and the Special while on Legolas, the horse that Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki bought as a successor their Ravel, won the Grand Prix and Freestyle at this popular show, the second CDI in California this year.

“I thought Ravel was even better than in the Grand Prix,” said Steffen of nearby San Diego. “It was a mistake-free test.”

He plans to compete once more at the end of April, but meantime will ask the U.S. Equestrian Federation for a bye for Ravel from the Olympic selection trials over two weeks at Gladstone, New Jersey, June 8-17, seven weeks before the start of Olympic dressage competition.

“If our request for a bye is not accepted,” he said, “Ravel feels very fit and ready to do the two weekends at Gladstone.”

Asked whether he agreed with the U.S. selection process for major championships where the horses peak for the selection trials and then have to return to peak performance several weeks later, he replied: “We’ve been using this system since 1996. We’ve always had two weekends. I’m convinced we have always gotten the best possible team out of that system.”

He laughed when it was pointed out that there has never been a different selection system since he has competed for the United States.

Steffen did, however, speak out on the U.S. decision to count only Grand Prix and Special results to qualify for London at the expense of the Freestyle.

The decision has had a serious impact on competitions. At this event, he and Legolas and Jan Ebeling and Rafalca were the only two competitors in the Freestyle on Saturday night under lights for which the organizers provided prizemoney. Riders pitched in to make an event of the evening with exhibition rides that drew rousing support from spectators packing the arena.

The decision to exclude Freestyles from Olympic qualificaton although it will decide the individual medals, he said, “really seems that we don’t care about the individual.”

“I hope it changes next year out of fairness to the organizers,” he said. “We riders have got to contribute our share to support the shows. The freestyles are the biggest attraction and, as riders, we have to be sure our entries reflect that.”