UPDATE: World Cup Defense by Steffen Peters & Ravel May Be Victim of No California Qualifiers
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SAN DIEGO, California, Aug. 14–The defense by the USA’s Steffen Peters and Ravel of the World Cup title may be jeopardized by a lack of qualifying competitions in California. Dressage fans hoping to see head-to-head competition between Peters and Ravel and Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas may have to wait at least a year for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
The International Equestrian Federation shows no World Cup competitions for California for the 2009/2010 series of the only annual global equestrian championship. Two World Cup events were scheduled in California this year, but both were canceled, primarily because of high costs and low demand.
Peters and Ravel, an 11-year-old Dutch warmblood, became World Cup champions at the Final in Las Vegas in April this year, only the second American combination to claim the title.Debbie McDonald and Brentina were the 2003 champions.
World Cup veteran Leslie Morse of Beverly Hills, California, told dressage-news.com that she, too, is interested in competing her Tip Top in the World Cup.
“If we can’t work this out,” she said in referring to the lack of qualifying competitions on the West Coast, “this changes things and adds a great deal of travel and expense.”
She would consider competing the stallion in Florida or Europe to qualify, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the cost. The pair have just returned from a successful competition swing through Europe; they won the Grand Prix Special at the Exquis World Dressage Masters CDI5* in Hickstead, England, last month.
The 2010 World Cup Final will be in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, Mar. 25-28.
“We very much want to defend our World Cup title,” Peters said after consulting with Akiko Yamazaki who, with her husband, Jerry Yang, owns Ravel.
He said the main goal for 2010 is the WEG in Kentucky where the dressage competition is scheduled for Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, and a small number of top events such as the World Cup if it is feasible and probably the Exquis World Dressage Masters CDI5* in Palm Beach Feb. 3-7 and possibly a new CDIO3* at Indio near the California desert resort of Palm Springs on Feb. 11-14.
Peters said that Ravel is doing “great” on a schedule of 20 to 30 minutes of work per day, four days a week.
“The work is not to push Ravel,” he said.
“Ravel is a very happy camper,” he said. “He loves what he does, and shows real willingness to do it.
“We are blessed with a pretty amazing horse.”
The rules of the North American League that includes the U.S., Canada and Mexico require a minimum of three World Cup qualifying competitions and accumulating sufficient points to fill one of the two places set aside for North America.
The situation led to consideration by the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Dressage Committee and a survey by the USEF of riders, show managers and other stakeholders on the U.S. West Coast to determine whether there is demand for World Cup events. For most of this decade, the presence of the World Cup Finals in nearby Las Vegas in 2005, 2007 and 2009 sparked interest that led to several qualifying competitions each year.
Gil Merrick, the USEF Director of Dressage, said he will seek clarification from the FEI on the rules for the North American League.
In the West European League, the titleholder is required only to compete in two World Cup competitions. With the future direction of international dressage awaiting the report of the FEI Dressage Task Force later this year, rule changes are considered unlikely until after then, possibly too late for the 2010 World Cup.
West Coast show managers have indicated willingness to hold World Cup qualifiers if there is demand. But the additional costs, prospects of only a handful of entries and little or no paying spectator base make the finances of such events difficult to justify in a tough economy.
Unless show managers apply for and are approved to hold World Cup classes on the West Coast, the closest that Peters and Ravel could compete would be Florida, a distance of 2,270 miles (3,650km) from their base in San Diego, California.
Three World Cup classes are scheduled for South Florida on the 2010 calendar, Jan. 22-24 and Feb. 12-14 at the Jim Brandon Center in West Palm Beach and Mar. 4-7 at the Palm Beach Derby in Loxahatchee.
The trials to select the U.S. team for Kentucky will be held in Gladstone, New Jersey, in August and the team will be based there until moving to Lexington.