Lars Petersen & Mariett Win Wellington 5* Freestyle, Biggest Purse for USA Kürs
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, April 6–Lars Petersen and Mariett, the horse that tore off a hoof and was not expected to return to the show ring, scored the biggest victory of their partnership winning the Global Dressage Festival Wellington 5* Freestyle Saturday night with a personal best score.
The Danish Olympic rider, based in Florida, and Mariett scored 78.450 per cent with U.S. Olympic rider Steffen Peters and Legolas second on 78.100 per cent with fellow Olympic combination of Tina Konyot and Calecto V third on 77.050 per cent.
Eight combinations started the event presented by Diamante Farms and was under lights at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Stadium complex. It carried prizemoney of $84,000 (€64,665) that is believed to be the largest purse for a non-championship Freestyle in the United States.
The overall rideability of the 15-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Come Back II x Zendi x Siney) that is owned by Marcia Pepper is “getting better and better” since returning to the show ring a year ago after an accident in which a hoof was torn off.
The crowd clapped while he did changes on a circle but the Danish Warmblood mare was not affected by the nighttime atmosphere.
Lars said he intends to go to Europe to compete in the Danish championships and seek a place on his nation’s team for the European Championships that will be held in his homeland at Herning, Denmark. However, it may be the last opportunity to do so as he has spent most of his adult life in the United States and is less than a year away from applying for American citizenship.
The ride, he said, was the first time he was able to get the changes, two-tempis to one-tempis to two-tempis.
As a trainer–he and his longtime partner, Melissa Taylor have a large training operation in neighboring Loxahatchee–he said he “was most happy about the transitions” of which there were many throughout the test.
Their previous Freestyle high score was 76.400 per cent in the Palm Beach Dressage Derby a month ago. This was their seventh victory in eight starts, the only exception being the second place in the Grand Prix at this event.
Steffen Peters, who had flown in with Legolas from his base in San Diego, California to compete in this CDI5* before heading to the Horses & Dreams at Hagen, Germany, essentially a homecoming as the horse was bought from Performance Sales International’s Ullrich Kasselmann who organizes the show, said his ride was the most relaxed in the 15 months he has been competing the horse.
The pair won the Grand Prix on Friday with Lars and Mariett second and said he was happy that Lars won the Freestyle as it was good for the sport to have different victors.
“The first five seconds were tricky,” he said of his ride, “but Legolas setted down and the connection has never been better in a freestyle. When he’s soft and loose I can ride him a bit more. That’s exactly the feeling I want to take to Europe. Technically it was not our best Freestyle but from the standpoint of suppleness and relaxation it was our best Freestyle.”
The riders lauded the GDF show grounds, Steffen describing the footing as phenomenal and saying, “This is one of my favorite places in the world to show. It’s my first time here and you can count on me coming back.”