Steffen Peters & Ravel Conquer World Dressage Masters Palm Beach in 3rd Try
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Mar. 11–Steffen Peters and Ravel succeeded in their third attempt to conquer the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach when the best American partnership in history won the Grand Prix Freestyle Friday night at a competition pulled together at the last minute to become a spontaneous celebration.
The pair capped their participation in the event with a score of 84.550 per cent in a ride that was not as spectacular as Thursday’s Grand Prix victory, but was what Steffen said was “three’s the charm” to finally win the lion’s share of the €100,000 ((US$140,000) in prize money.
Sweden’s Tinne Silfvén on her World Equestrian Games mount Favourit produced a superb performance to finish second on 77.975 per cent to move ahead of Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida, on her WEG mount Calecto V who had switched placings with Tinne from the Grand Prix to finish third on 76.775 per cent. The result for Tina was the best ever in a freestyle since she began competing Calecto at Grand Prix in August, 2009.
Steffen and Ravel, record setters for the U.S. in being the first to win two individual medals at a world championship and the first to sweep all three CDIO classes at the world’s premier equestrian competition in Aachen, Germany, had won the Grand Prix at the two previous WDM events in Palm Beach, but were beaten in the freestyle both times to Anky van Grunsven of The Netherlands.
This year, after the original organizers pulled out the event had to be resurrected at the last minute backed financially by International Polo Club Palm Beach and Akiko Yamazaki, the owner of Ravel. It was moved to the taxpayer-funded Jim Brandon Center which was transformed by an infusion of cash to create an arena with a theme of Provence, France for 1.200 spectators who paid as much as $500 a ticket for a five-course meal with matching French wines.
Steffen of San Diego, California, won the Grand Prix Thursday with a personal best score.
The freestyle was dramatic from the start.
Germany’s Anja Plönzke, making her second appearance at WDM Palm Beach with Le Mont d’Or after competing in all three of the European legs, was the second of eight combinations in the program.
About a quarter the way through the test, Wim Ernes of The Netherlands, president of the ground jury, saw what he first thought was coloring in the gelding’s mouth foam that he first thought could have been from eating carrots. But on a second look it was too pink so he was compelled by the rules to ring the bell to eliminate the pair from the competition. She had been one of five horse and rider combinations brought over specially for the event.
The battle of the night was between Tinne Silfvén on Favourit of Sweden and Tina Konyot on Calecto V for the USA.
Since moving to Florida for the winter three months ago, the five-time Olympian for Sweden has had an outstanding circuit on two Grand Prix horses and a small tour horse that was ridden in a MasterClass presented by top Dutch rider Hans Peter Minderhoud.
Her ride on the 12-year-old Danish gelding was an elegant performance to a collection of Eurthymics tunes, while Tina Konyot’s powerful black Danish stallion Calecto V showed off to a contemporary score that included, appropriately, the song Black Horse in a Cherry Tree.
Tinne was delighted with her result, but said of finishing second to Steffen Peters, “I ride for the best feeling I can get from the horse, but part of you always wants to be the best.”
Tina Konyot quipped, “I don’t mind trading places with Tinne.”
The score for Steffen and Ravel was the highest ever awarded at the WDM Palm Beach, though below the scores the pair were awarded in the freestyle at the WEG in Kentucky, the CDIO in Aachen and their World Cup title in Las Vegas in 2009.
Riding to a collection of rock songs including Sympathy For the Devil and Viva La Vida, Peters and Akiko Yamazaki’s 13 year old Dutch Warmblood gelding Ravel captivated the sold out audience.
“Ravel was very, very excited,” he said. “He reacted a little but even though he was excited he’s such a good guy he made it happen for me.”
Steffen said that Friday night’s performance was the last time he would use this freestyle.