Laura Graves & Verdades Capture Grand Prix Special, Freestyle Away from 1st USA Championship

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Laura Graves and Verdades completing their U.S. Championship Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Laura Graves and Verdades completing their U.S. Championship Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Dec. 10, 2015–Laura Graves and Verdades captured the United States Grand Prix Special Thursday for the second win in the championships that put the pair one Freestyle away from their first national title. Steffen Peters rode Rosamunde into second place and the first time the eight-year-old mare has beaten the seasoned Legolas.

Laura and the 13-year-old KWPN gelding scored 77.137 per cent for the victory in the Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp. a day after taking the Grand Prix. With the results of both competitions combined, the total for the duo is 65.262 per cent with only the Freestyle remaining for Saturday night under lights.

If Laura and the horse she barely squeaked into the 2014 championships but placed second and has gone on to shine at world and continental championships clinches the title Saturday it will end a run of four straight American championships for Steffen–three on Legolas and one on Ravel.

Steffen and Rosamunde are 62.499 and with Legolas at 62.364.

Steffen described the ride on Rosamunde, the Rhinelander mare, as the best so far and was awarded 74.549 per cent, the first win over stablemate Legolas who was third Thursday on 72.412 per cent.

The championships are not a CDI, but the ground jury is made up of four 5* judges and one 4* and includes three Europeans to meet Olympic qualifying standards. All the judges placed Laura first and were also unanimous on Rosamunde as runner-up.

Steffen Peters happy with the ride on Rosamunde in the Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters happy with the ride on Rosamunde in the Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The performances by Verdades have come five months since the last competition, the Pan American Games in July where the pair were on the American team that won gold and a start at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.

Since then, between training Verdades she has been working on building what she hopes will be the her training center at Plymouth, a small community on the outskirts of Orlando in central Florida.

For the Special that Laura said is normally a better test for Verdades, the warm-up was “amazing…he was really lit.” She was thinking to herself, “please don’t buck on the centerline, please don’t buck on the centerline.”

“When we have that feeling and he doesn’t buck on the centerline,” she said, “we have a really good test. When I stepped on the gas he was there for me.”

Despite high temperatures and humidity, “Diddy,” as she calls the horse that she has had since a foal bought from a video from a Dutch dealer, was fresh and with a day off Friday she expects the horse to be in top form for the Freestyle.

She reiterated her goal of achieving 80 per cent at Grand Prix–“I don’t want to be mediocre, but be the best in the world.”

After the two Grand Prix rides that clearly disappointed Steffen of San Diego, California the outing on Rosamunde in the Special restored his good spirits.

“That was the best test she’s done so far.” he said of the mare that Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang bought as a successor to Ravel, his double Olympic, World Games medalist and World Cup title winner and Legolas, to be 14 years old next year.

He competed Rosie with success at Small Tour on both sides of the Atlantic in 2014 and this year began Grand Prix, notching nine Big Tour victories in competing in California, Florida and Europe.

“How much she tried for me was the highlight,” he said, “the fun factor.

“In my heart I love this horse so much,” so he is not going to push her at the age of eight.

“Not that I don’t love Legolas, but he’s older and I can push him a bit. Rosie is still my little baby and that’s how I treat her.”

Steffen Peters and Legolas in the Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters and Legolas in the Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The Intermediaire 1, the second stage of the Intermediate Championships, was won by Jane Karol on Sunshine Tour on 69.105 per cent with Christina Vinios on Folkestone second on 68.658 per cent and Shelly Francis on Rubinio third on 67.763 per cent.

Results:

Grand Prix Special
E: Umbach – LUX 4* H: Rockwell – USA 5* C: Matthiesen – DEN 5* M: Zang – USA 5* B: Holler – GER 5*
Rider Ctzn Horse E Rk. H Rk. C Rk. M Rk. B Rk. T Pl.
Graves, Laura USA Verdades 76.373 1 77.647 1 78.922 1 76.373 1 76.373 1 77.137 1
Peters, Steffen USA Rosamunde 75.098 2 75.392 2 73.431 2 72.647 2 76.176 2 74.549 2
Peters, Steffen USA Legolas 92 72.353 3 72.451 3 72.255 3 72.451 3 72.549 5 72.412 3
Francis, Shelly USA Doktor 69.412 6 71.275 4 69.216 7 71.176 4 75.294 3 71.275 4
Brock, Allison USA Rosevelt 70.784 4 69.902 6 70.980 5 68.039 6 71.765 6 70.294 5
Seidel, Guenter USA Zero Gravity 69.118 8 68.431 11 70.784 6 68.039 7 72.843 4 69.843 6
Jorst, Charlotte USA Kastels Nintendo 69.510 5 69.706 7 71.275 4 68.431 5 69.510 9 69.686 7
Bateson Chandler, Kathrine USA Alcazar 68.137 10 71.078 5 66.078 10 67.549 8 70.686 7 68.706 8
Page, Arlene USA Woodstock 69.412 6 69.020 9 67.843 8 67.353 9 69.412 10 68.608 9
Francis, Shelly USA Danilo 68.333 9 69.216 8 65.000 11 66.961 10 70.588 8 68.020 10
Dutta, Susan USA Currency DC 67.647 11 68.529 10 66.961 9 66.275 11 66.863 12 67.255 11
Marienau, Beatrice USA Stefano 8 65.000 12 63.627 14 64.510 12 65.392 12 65.196 13 64.745 12
Mcgrath, Kimberly USA Winslow 63.235 15 64.412 12 61.471 15 64.706 14 67.157 11 64.196 13
Lert, Tracey USA Udo 63.627 14 64.118 13 62.451 14 64.902 13 64.118 14 63.843 14
Page, Arlene USA Alina 63.922 13 62.353 16 63.529 13 61.078 16 62.647 15 62.706 15
Oleson, Heather USA Victor 60.882 16 62.647 15 60.882 16 62.745 15 60.490 16 61.529 16
Haddad-Staller, Catherine USA Mane Stream Hotmail 0.000 0 0.000 0 0.000 0 0.000 0 0.000 0 0.000 0
Intermediare I
E: Holler – GER 5* H: Matthiesen – DEN 5* C: Zang – USA 5* M: Umbach – LUX 4* B: Rockwell – USA 5*
Rider Ctzn Horse E Rk. H Rk. C Rk. M Rk. B Rk. T Pl.
Karol, Jane USA Sunshine Tour 70.921 2 70.658 1 66.316 2 69.868 1 67.763 4 69.105 1
Vinios, Christina USA Folkestone 68.684 4 69.342 2 68.553 1 68.421 4 68.289 1 68.658 2
Francis, Shelly USA Rubinio 72.632 1 65.263 7 66.316 3 66.316 6 68.289 2 67.763 3
Fladland, Melissa USA Royal Gem 69.342 3 68.158 3 66.316 4 68.816 2 65.658 6 67.658 4
Jackson, Melissa USA Whirlpool 68.289 5 67.763 4 65.000 7 67.500 5 67.895 3 67.289 5
Parra, Cesar USA Blickpunkt 4 66.316 6 66.316 6 65.526 6 68.553 3 66.711 5 66.684 6
Copeland, Emily USA Festivo RS 64.868 8 66.579 5 66.184 5 60.658 8 64.868 8 64.632 7
Morkis, Dorothy USA Artiest 65.132 7 61.579 8 63.026 8 64.079 7 65.132 7 63.789 8