Steffen Peters Aiming Suppenkasper for 2020 World Cup Final in Las Vegas, Where he was 2009 Champion on Ravel

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Steffen Peters on Ravel at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas in 2009. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

April 16, 2019

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Steffen Peters, with his first 2020 World Cup qualifying score in hand, is pointing Suppenkasper to the Las Vegas Freestyle championship a year from now aiming to repeat at the same arena where in 2009 he became only the second American ever to capture the title.

Although the primary goal for 2020 remains the Olympics, the World Cup Final in Las Vegas is just a few hours drive from Steffen’s home in San Diego, California and three months before Tokyo that would be his fifth Games.

Steffen has set as his goal over the next year developing consistency of the scores he logged at last weekend’s World Cup qualifier at the West Coast Dressage Fesival in Temecula, California, the first 2020 qualifying competition in North America. The results were personal best in both the Grand Prix at 76.304% and the Freestyle at 79.750%. He needs two more results to contend for one of the two places reserved at the final for North America, plus an extra starting place.

However it works out for Steffen, German born but avowedly Californian since he came to the United States 35 years ago, his record for the United States has been outstanding. In addition to four Olympics 20 years apart with two team bronze medals, five World Equestrian Games with team silver and bronze medals and two individual bronzes, five World Cup appearances with the title in 2009 he also took team and individual gold at the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games.

Suppenkasper is a Dutch-bred gelding that was bought by Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang of Four Winds Farm in late 2017 as a prospect for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the third different mount for Steffen if he makes it with the 11-year-old. His other mounts for Akiko and Jerry were Ravel in 2008 and 2012 and Legolas in 2016.

Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang, owners of Suppenkasper ridden by Steffen Peters. Akiko and Jerry were at the 2016 where Steffen rode their Legolas. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Since taking over the ride from German Olympian Helen Langehanenberg, Suppenkaper, or “Mopsie,” the not too flattering barn name about his weight that he came with from Germany, has been competed by Steffen on both sides of the Atlantic.

Steffen, 54 years old, has taken his time preparing Suppenkasper for 2020 with the career highlight so far the 2018 World Games team silver.

The latest Temecula results, he told dressage-news.com, was due to “a new level of relaxation.

“Mopsie used to get quite nervous as soon as the music started. I was happily surprised that this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.”

The immediate plan is another freestyle in Del Mar, California, at the end of April. Then, if selected for the U.S. squad for the European summer circuit, to perform with a higher degree of difficulty for shows at Leudelange in Luxembourg and the pinnacle of the year, the World Equestrian Fstival CDIO5* at Aachen, Germany in July. Aachen has a special place in Steffen’s heart–on Ravel in 2009 he became the first American CDIO champion, three months after the pair’s World Cup victory.

Steffen Peters and Suppenksper. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

To qualify for the World Cup in Las Vegas next April 15-19, he and Suppenkasper have to improve the freestyle score by at least three percent.

“That,” he said, “is the goal for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers on the West Coast in the fall.”

Possible challengers for the guaranteed two starting places at Las Vegas–plus a likely home combination–are the three silver medal team mates from the Tryon World Games–Laura Graves on Verdades, Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet and Adrienne Lyle on Salvino but who also has two other Grand Prix mounts, Horizon and Harmony’s Duval.

Laura has made it plain she is assessing the best future for her Verdades, on which she is ranked No. 2 in the world, after a third World Cup runner-up finish two weeks ago. She has been the sole competition partner for Verdades since the KWPN gelding was bought as a foal 17 years ago, and will let the horse tell her whether to return to the competition arena at 18 years of age.