Veteran Steffen Peters & Legolas, Rookie Laura Graves & Verdades Top US Championships
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
GLADSTONE, New Jersey, June 15, 2014–Veteran Steffen Peters and Legolas won their second straight United States Championship when they captured the Grand Prix Freestyle presented by the Dutta Corp. Sunday while 26-year-old rookie Laura Graves and Verdades were reserve champions.
Steffen of San Diego, California and the 12-year-old Westfalen gelding swept all three Grand Prix classes and will lead a squad of eight American horses to Europe to compete for four slots on the team for the World Equestrian Games in two months.
Steffen and Legolas scored 79.700 per cent in the Freestyle, a ride he said he was happy to take to Europe after a shaky start in the championships with mistakes in the Grand Prix.
At age 49, he is the championship veteran on the team with three Olympics, two World Equestrian Games, a World Cup title, seven U.S. championships, Pan American Games and the Aachen CDIO5* champion on his resume.
Laura Graves of Geneva, Florida, a tiny community near Orlando, and her 12-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding who just squeaked into the championships were awarded 78.425 per cent in the Freestyle for second place with Adrienne Lyle of Ketchum, Idaho and Wizard third on 76.900 per cent.
Laura and “Diddy” as she calls Verdades began international Grand Prix last February on the Florida winter circuit and this was their first three-day competition. Her mother bought the horse as a weanling off a sales video.
Adrienne, 29, and Wizard, 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding, competed as individuals at the 2012 London Olympics and in Germany in the sumer of 2010.
The other five combinations to go to Europe are:
–Tina Konyot, 52, of Palm City, Florida and Calecto V, 16-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion (Come Back II x Rastell) who was on U.S. teams at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky, the 2012 Olympics and performed in their first World Cup Final this year;
–Jan Ebeling, 55, of Moorpark, California and Rafalca, 17-year-old Oldenburg mare (Argentinius x Rubinstein) that was a celebrity in London as the ownership group includes Ann Romney, wife of the Republican candidate for President of the U.S. The pair have also competed in World Cup Finals;
–Caroline Roffman, 25, of Wellington, Florida and and Her Highness O, 11-year-old Hanoverian mare (Hohenstein x Weltmeyer). Caroline competed the mare in the small tour at Aachen, Germany last year;
–Shelly Francis, 55, of Loxahatchee, Florida and Doktor, 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Diamond Hit x Renoir I) who competed in Europe last summer;
–Lisa Wilcox, 47, of Wellington and Denzello, 11-year-old Hanverian gelding (De Niro x Rohdiamant). The pair made a European swing last year. Lisa is wellknown in Europe for success on the stallion Relevant 20 years ago.
The schedule calls for all but the top two combinations to ride at Fritzens, Austria CDI4* July Fourth weekend and the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen two weeks later.
The schedule led to Jan Ebeling expressing concern over the ability of the 17-year-old Rafalca to handle such intense competition–flying from California to New Jersey for these championships of Grand Prix, Special and Freestyle, flying to Europe on Wednesday, going to Fritzens in the Austrian Alps 12 days later then at Aachen another week later.
Steffen was also champion on Rosamunde and reserve champion on Apassionata of the Intermediate division.
GRAND PRIX FREESTYLE
|E: Foy – 4* USA||H: Lamping – 4* USA||C: Holler – 5* GER||M: Gribbons – 5* USA||B: Bredahl- Baker – 4* USA|
|3||Lagoy-Weltz, Olivia||Rassing’s Lonoir||76.625||3||75.625||2||77.125||3||73.375||4||75.125||3||75.575||3|
|6||Perry, Kasey||Goerklintgaards Dublet||73.000||8||71.750||8||77.000||4||72.250||5||73.125||6||73.425||5|
|13||Ahl-Eckhaus, Jackie||Wisdom MVS||67.750||15||68.500||14||71.000||13||66.750||14||69.375||13||68.675||13|
|14||Jackson, Angela||Allure S||68.500||14||68.250||15||70.625||14||66.250||15||67.875||14||68.300||14|
|12||Szepesi, Alix||Majco Thunders Hattrick||70.000||11||66.750||16||69.750||16||67.375||13||67.250||15||68.225||15|
|17||Hardin, Justin||Wyatt Star||62.250||17||66.750||16||66.125||17||65.250||17||66.500||17||65.375||17|