Ravel Excused from USA Olympic Selection Trials for London

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Ravel ridden by Steffen Peters at the 2008 Olympic Games. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Ravel, one of the world’s top horses who came within one-third of one percent of winning an individual medal at the Olympics four year ago, has been excused from America’s Olympic selection trials, the U.S. Equestrian Federation announced Friday.

Steffen Peters will get to take the KWPN gelding to London as one of up to six combinations from which the United States team will be chosen without putting the horse through two weekends of head-to-head competitions.

The bye from competition for the three places on the U.S. team and possibly one individual was approved by the U.S. Equestrian Federation after an examination by U.S. team veterinarian Dr. Rick Mitchell at Ravel’s stable in San Diego, California, May 21.

The request to excuse Ravel, owned by Akiko Yamazaki, from the stress of 2,400 miles (3,860km) of travel across the United States and intensive competition at the selection trials–the U.S. Grand Prix Championships–at Gladstone, New Jersey, over two weekends of June 8-10 and June 15-17 was made by Steffen in late March.

A combination can be appointed to the squad if they have qualified for the trials and have finishesd in the top six positions as an individual at a World Championship or Olympic Games within the past four years, Steffen and Ravel finished fourth at the 2008 Olympics and third at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010

Ravel (Contango x Hautain x Democraat), now 14 years old, was bought By Akiko in 2006 as an Olympic prospect for Steffen.

Steffen will compete Legalas, also owned by Akiko and bought as a successor to Ravel, in the championships. Since arriving at Steffen’s barn last Christmas, Legolas, a 10-year-old Westfalen gelding (Laomoden x Fürstin x Florestan II), has established himself as the second ranked horse in the United States behind Ravel after competing in just three CDIs in California this year.

Ravel and up to another five horses will leave for Britain shortly after the selection trials to prepare for the Olympic dressage competition beginning at London’s Greenwich Park on Aug. 2.

Steffen and Ravel were one of only six combinations in the world to score above 80 per cent at Grand Prix this year with 83.700 per cent in Florida that was second only to an award of 83.809 per cent to Matthias Alexander Rath and Totilas.

Ravel was required to undergo the veterinary examination after Steffen sought to be excused from the Olympic selection trials to minimize the strees of traveling 2,400 miles (3,860km) from Southern California to the trials, competing over two weekends and being shipped to Europe if successful. The examination was made in the presence of Kathy Connelly, one of the U.S. team selectors.

After claiming the U.S. Grand Prix championship in 2008, the pair went to the Beijing Olympics. Steffen and Ravel finished fourth in the Grand Prix Special and third on the Freestyle in which Ravel was the youngest horse to make it to the final 15 . The combined scores of the two competitions decided the individual medals, and the pair missed out by less than one-third of a percentage point America’s first individual Olympic dressage medal since Hiram Tuttle and Olympia at Los Angeles in 1932.

The combination of Steffen and Ravel won the World Cup Final at Las Vegas in 2009, only the second American combination to capture the annual global championship, then followed up the same year to become the first U.S. pair ever to sweep the CDIO of the Grand Prix, the Special and the Freestyle at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany.

The World Equestrian Festival in Kentucky in 2010 again saw them among the world’s elite with third place finishes behind Edward Gal and Totilas and Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris to collect two individual bronze medals.

Their competition schedule after WEG was been barebones–a total of five CDIs in 2011 and 2012–they won the Grand Prix Championship again in 2011 as well as collecting victories in the €100,000 World Dressage Masters in Palm Beach in both years.

Steffen Peters and Legolas. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Legolas was bought from Ulrich Kasselman who with Paul Schockemöhle owns Performance Sales International. Ullrich trained the horse to Grand Prix.

The partnership of Steffen and Legolsas has been undefeated at the three California shows with the pair’s overall average of Grand Prix and Special scores at 75.495 per cent compared with an average of 79.398 per cent for Ravel.