Steffen Peters & Legolas Win California World Cup Freestyle to Earn Invite to Las Vegas Final
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, California, Mar. 22, 2015–Steffen Peters and Legolas won an invitation to the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas with a victory in the California Dreaming World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle Sunday that put the pair atop the North American League standings and two Americans into the championship.
The score for Steffen and Legolas was 80.925 per cent, the highest Freestyle result in North America this year and gave the pair the win in the field of 11 starting combinations. Added to their result of 80.825 per cent in the pair’s first qualifier last month the average of 80.888 per cent put the pair at the top of North American combinations vying to go to Las Vegas.
Steffen and the 13-year-old Westfalen gelding will join Laura Graves and Verdades–both combinations were on the United States team at last year’s World Games–for the world championship in Las Vegas four weeks away.
“It was like somebody put a firecracker under his saddle and it kept going off,” Steffen said of the performance that showed tension. “Usually when he does that the test is over. The changes were tense but he did them. The walk tour was one of the best ever.
“That’s Legolas. With the music there was a lot of fire and expression. I appreciate so much that he never says ‘no;’ he gets super energetic but never says ‘no’.
“Las Vegas is going to be tougher. The environment will be a challenge and the Freestyle will be a bigger challenge.”
Music is the issue–especially when the speakers do not provide balanced sound. In the arena Sunday, the sound was coming from one side of the arena.
As to his chances at the Final, he told dressage-news.com, “As you know, I’m realistic. I will enjoy watching the top horses of the world competing on American soil. A placing among the top six would be great.”
Günter Seidel of nearby Cardiff, California on Zero Gravity was second on 77.100 per cent and Kathleen Raine of Murietta, California on Breanna was third on 76.325 per cent.
Steffen and Legolas were awarded more than 80 per cent by all five judges.
The scores for Günter and Zero Gravity were a high of 79.625 per cent and a low of 75.125 per cent.
However, the result for Kathleen and Breanna included a high of 78.125 per cent from the Australian judge, Marie Schwennesen, 77.625 per cent from Bo Jena of Sweden, 77.500 from Mike Osinski of the United States and 76.750 per cent from Stephen Clarke of Great Britain but 71.625 per cent from the American Sandra Hotz.
The Freestyle here was the last qualifier for all of the four geographic zones for the World Cup Final that is returning to Las Vegas for the first time since 2009 when Steffen of San Diego, California on Ravel became the second American ever to win the title. The other was Debbie McDonald on Brentina.
Laura and Verdades, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding competed in two World Cup qualifiers–their only two shows since the World Games last August–scoring 78.875 per cent and 79.600 per cent for an average of 79.2375 per cent and second place in the NAL. The pair was the top American and placed fifth in the world championship Freestyle in Normandy with a score of 82.036 per cent.
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, Great Britain’s Olympic and World Games gold medal winners and holder of all three Grand Prix records, will defend the title the pair won in 2014.
With the two starting slots reserved for North America are now filled along with nine West Europeans and two from Central Europe some other combinations may be invited as extra starting places or “wild cards” to make up the total of 18 slots. The two Pacific League qualifiers opted not to go to Las Vegas.
Lars Petersen on Mariett, the Florida-based Danish combination, is among the most likely based on third place in North America with an average of 76.825 per cent combined with a world ranking of No. 27 that slotted the pair into third overall in the group of Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Lisa Wilcox of Wellington, Florida on Pikko del Cerro HU with an average of 76.200 per cent also hopes for an invite as a third North American.