Steffen Peters & Ravel Slosh Through Downpours to Win Grand Prix at US National Championships
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
GLADSTONE, New Jersey, Sept. 8–Steffen Peters and Ravel sloshed their way to victory in the Grand Prix as the first leg of the U.S. National Championships Thursday, one of 16 combinations from across the country to cope with the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.
All the horses and riders and the arena footing took the drenching rains in stride. This same historic venue that was for decades home of the U.S. Equestrian Team experienced rains that forced curtailment of the championships two years ago that led to new footing.
But the start of the Intermediaire Championship that is also the selection trial for America’s team for the Pan American Games next month was put off for a day.
Steffen of San Diego, California, and the 13-year-old KWPN gelding by Contango that has been the dominant American Grand Prix partnership for the past three years scored 77.660 per cent over 2010 World Equestrlan Games team mates Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida, and Calecto V in second place on 69.787 per cent and Shawna Harding of Aiken, South Carolina, and Come On III in third place on 67.872 per cent.
So heavy was the rain Thursday coming after downpours triggered by Hurricane Irene and then Tropical Storm Lee causing flooding that has devastated many communities in the northeast U.S., that just 10 miles (16 km) from Gladstone, a four-lane highway to the university town of Princeton was closed because of dangerous floodwaters.
Steffen admitted that he rode the Akiko Yamazaki-owned Ravel “a little more conservatively,” but agreed with the determination of the ground jury that the arena was safe for horses.
“I went for a clean test and it worked out great,” he said. “He’s such a trouper.”
Steffen plans to give Ravel a break after this competition as he will be focued on Weltino’s Magic in the Intermediaire I Championship vying for a spot on the Pan American Games Team. Ravel’s next show will be the World Dressage Masters in Florida in January, World Cup qualifiers in California aiming for the Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, next April and then the Olympic Games in London.
Tina Konyot, the 2010 national Grand Prix Champion, said she had a problem with wet reins but Calecto, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, “was very, very good – there were some mistakes in the changes. But I was happy with the piaffe/passage tours and pirouettes. I was a bit more conservative in my riding.”
She too may make a run for one of the two combinations available to the North American League in the World Cup series.
“Next year is an important year for all of us,” she said. “We need to get out there and compete against the best.”
Shawna Harding competed Come On III in the Grand Prix but also is scheduled to compete Rigo in the Pan Am Games trials.
She showed both horses in Europe this summer.
“We had a much better ride than last year,” she said of her second consecutive national championship. “We had mistakes in the changes and then he tripped before the ones but then he got them, the footing did wear him down but they are doing the best they can with the circumstances.”The competition day began with the Young Adult Brentina Cup National Championship–similar to the Under-25 division but extends to 28-year-old riders.
Caroline Roffman of Wellington, Florida, and Beemer, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding that she has shown intermittently this year, scored 65.179 per cent for first place with Heather Beachem of Alpharetta, Georgia, and Windsong second on 63.897 per cent and Olivia Lagoy-Weltz of Versailles, Kentucky, on Rifallino in third place on .63.128 per cent.