Jan Ebeling & Rafalca Win Burbank, Last World Cup Qualifier
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
BURBANK, California, April 3–Jan Ebeling and Rafalca won the last World Cup qualifier Sunday with their second best ever Freestyle score to clinch a place at the Final in Leipzig, Germany at the end of the month.
Jan of Moorpark, California, and the 14-year-old Oldenburg mare by Argentinius, scored 73.025 per cent at the Festival of the Horse that added to their 74.700 per cent awarded at the World Cup qualifier in Saugerties, New York, last August placed them at the top of the North American League which is allocated two places in the Final to be held from April 27 to May 1 in conjunction with Finals in Jumping, Driving and Vaulting.
Kathleen Raine of Murrietta, California on Breanna was second on 69.975 per cent and Alisa Wilson of Chino Hills, California third on 66.550 per cent.
Shawna Harding of Aiken, South Carolina, and her 12-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Come On III by Come Back II will be the second entry from the North American League. German-based American Catherine Haddad and Winyamaro qualified through the Western European League.
“This is a dream come true,” Shawna told dressage-news.com.
“I am very excited about going to Europe and doing our very first World Cup Final. I hope to make my friends and the U.S. proud.” And she needs a sponsor to put their name on her saddle pad for the world to see at the Final.
Shawna also has a small tour horse, Rigo, she rode to the 2010 U.S. Developing Horse Championship. The 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Rotspon and owned by Tonya Rowe, competed successfully in their first CDI at small tour at this year’s Florida winter circuit.
For Jan, 52, and Rafalca owned by Ann Romney and Amy Ebeling the Final in Leipzig will be their second appearance at the only annual global championship, the previous competition at the Final in Las Vegas in 2009.
While that experience two years ago did not fulfill expectations, Jan said that both he and Rafalca have developed since then.
“Initially,” he said, “it was sad. But we looked at it as a challenge and determined that it was not going to happen again. We looked for the positive.”
He worked on training for himself, not just the horse–he trains with Wolfram Wittig in Europe as well as the United States.
“As bad as it was in Las Vegas, it was a good thing because I learned a lot, I got a lot out of it.”
The idea for music from the movie, “The Mission,” to become their Freestyle came from Mitt Romney, Ann’s husband.
The choreography was designed so that the degree of difficulty and improvements could be notched up as the pair developed.
A pre-Olympic year in the Americas is tougher than in Europe because of the need to develop combinations for the Olympics and at the same time compete small tour horses for the Pan American Games that this year will be the last at which the Pan Ams will be the qualifier for nations hoping to be represented at the Olympics.
Jan is competing Sandrina, the 13-year-old Oldenburg mare also owned by Ann Romney, in Pan Am qualifying competitions for the selection trials later this year for the Pan Am team.
“I’m so lucky to have such nice horses and people to support us,” he said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to represent my country.
“We have big shoes to fill from those who have been successful before us, but we are excited to give it our best effort.”
And he is also juggling his family responsibilities. His 11-year-old son, Ben, is a very good soccer player and has a pony jumper–dressage is too slow–and Jan wants to see his son competing at his games.
Earlier Sunday, Steffen rode Weltino’s Magic in the horse’s first freestyle to the music of “Whisper to Me” by the New Age group “7 and 5” to score 79.417 per cent. Jan Ebeling and Sandrina were second on 72.083 per cent and Jessica Wisdom of Ridgefield, Washington, and North Forks Cardi in third on 67.917 per cent.