Battle Joined at USA Championships for 4th Place for Pan Am Games Team

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Heather Blitz and Paragon going for it in the Intermediaire I. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

GLADSTONE, New Jersey, Sept. 10–The top combinations in the selection trials for the U.S. team for the Pan American Games tightened their hold on three places Saturday with the battle for the fourth and final spot still undecided.

Steffen Peters and Weltino’s Magic remain comfortably atop the standings with Heather Blitz and Paragon second and Cesar Parra and Grandioso third after the Intermediaire I, the same order of finish as Friday’s Prix St. Georges. The I-1 was the second of three competitions with only the Intermediaire Freestyle set for Sunday, but that counts for only 15 per cent of the total.

Less than two percentage points separated Marisa Festerling of Moorpark, California, on Big Tyme in fourth place in the standings, Endel Ots of Wellington, Florida, in fifth, and 2011 World Cup Final rider Shawn Harding of Aiken, South Carolina, and Rigo were sixth.

The final team placing became muddier when Olympic and World Equestrian Games rider Lisa Wilcox of Wellington on Pikko Del Cerro HU who had been fourth after the St. Georges performed an Intermediaire I that scored 65.632 per cent to place 13th out of 16 starters and drop them back to seventh place overall.

Marisa Festerling and Big Tyme moving into fourth place in the U.S. Pan American Games selection trials. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The Pan Am Games are the regional championships for the Americas held once every four years to select teams for the Olympics the following year. The U.S. has won the last three Nations Cup titles and has already qualified for next year’s London Games based on a fourth place finish at the WEG in Kentucky last year. But the Pan Ams are important for funding from the U.S. Olympic Committee as well as participation in an event of significance to the entire region.

Anne Gribbons, the U.S. Technical Advisor, essentially team leader, said the lineup of the three top combinations is “the strongest of any games ever.”

Steffen of San Diego, California, as the most experienced rider and the face of American dressage for the past four years with Ravel among the world’s elite and now Weltino’s Magic at the top of the small tour not only in the U.S. but also the winner at Aachen. Germany, this year is the anchor of the squad.

Although he has Olympic and WEG medals and a World Cup title, he has never been a member of a Pan Am Games team and said he is looking forward to it as it has the potential for a gold medal, the color of which he does not have in his collection.

Heather Blitz of Wellington, Florida, is also new to the Pan Ams, but Cesar Parra of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, competed at three Games for his native Colombia but this will be his first team experience since becoming an American citizen a year ago.

Steffen Peters and Weltino's Magic posing for photographers before the scoreboard displaying their record-setting score in the U.S. Intermediaire Championships. © 2011 Ken Braddck/dressage-news.com

Steffen said “there were a couple of misunderstandings” with Magic. “When I asked for the left half-pass he thought extended trot,” he said. “In the two-tempis one of the changes felt short behind. Where I think we won it was with really good pirouettes and the walk.”

He said that when things are not going to plan in the test, he tries not to let it distract him.

“He’s a pretty straightforward horse,” he said. “If I don’t screw up, he doesn’t screw up.”

Cesar Parra echoed the explanation of “some minor misunderstandings” with Grandioso, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding.

Cesar said mistakes in trot and flying changes were because of improvements he is attempting with the overall quality of the work.

“We are doing some minor adjustments to get him a little longer in the neck for eights,” he said. “He thought I was giving a half halt to trot.”

Grandioso was the 2007 six-year-old champion at the U.S. Young Horse Championships and was third in 2009 at the Developing Horse Championships, ridden in those competitions by Jason Canton.

Heather Blitz made no excuses for her performance.

She really went for it on the eight-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding to produce which she said was one of the highlights of their lives together so far.

“I did go for it more today,” Heather said. “I could, because yesterday he told me he was ready.

“In the arena he did every small detail I asked of him today. We were completely on the same page.

“I almost bawled it was so good.”

In the Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ championship, a litle more than 3/10ths of a point decided the winner–Caroline Roffman of Wellington, Florida, and Beemer. They edged out Olivia LaGoy-Weltz for the top spot with a two-day combined score of  65.822 per cent to Olivia’s 65.518 per cent.

Caroline had a successful Young Rider career and trains young horses, but Beemer is showing her the Grand Prix ropes by providing her with her first Brentina Cup win.

Because the 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding has been a sale horse, she did not know if she would still have him in the barn to be able to bring him to these championships.

With this win, Caroline broke a string of second-place finishes at the 2011 U.S. Young and Developing Dressage Horse Championships two weeks ago.

Caroline Roffman and Beemer celebrating their Brentina Cup victory. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Class: 7 – FEI Intermediaire I Test Ring: Brown Arena
E: Steiner (O) – USA H: Gurney (I) – USA C: Svalling (O) – SWE M: Zang (O) – USA B: Ayers (I) – USA
Rider Ctzn Horse E % Rk. H % Rk. C % Rk. M % Rk. B % Rk. T % Pl.

Peters, Steffen USA Weltino’s Magic
75.789% 1 75.789% 1 77.895% 1 77.632% 1 75.000% 1 76.421% 1

Blitz, Heather USA Paragon
75.000% 2 72.632% 2 76.842% 2 74.211% 3 74.737% 2 74.684% 2

Parra, Cesar USA Grandioso
69.474% 6 72.632% 2 73.684% 3 75.000% 2 70.789% 4 72.316% 3

Festerling, Marisa USA Big Tyme
72.368% 3 70.263% 5 71.053% 4 70.263% 5 72.632% 3 71.316% 4

Ots, Endel USA Toscano
72.368% 3 72.632% 2 71.053% 4 72.368% 4 66.842% 10 71.053% 5

Blake, David USA Lord Albert
69.211% 8 68.947% 7 69.737% 6 69.211% 7 70.263% 5 69.474% 6

Mason, Heather USA Warsteiner
68.684% 9 70.000% 6 68.421% 8 69.737% 6 69.737% 6 69.316% 7

Harding, Shawna USA Rigo
70.000% 5 65.263% 12 69.474% 7 68.158% 9 69.474% 7 68.474% 8

Hickey, Christopher USA Witness Hilltop
68.684% 9 68.684% 8 67.105% 11 69.211% 7 67.105% 9 68.158% 9

Ebeling, Jan USA Sandrina
69.474% 6 66.316% 11 67.632% 10 65.789% 12 67.368% 8 67.316% 10


Batts, Tami USA Ranko
65.789% 13 66.579% 9 67.895% 9 66.579% 11 66.316% 11 66.632% 11

Ebeling, Jan USA Rosenzauber 8
67.895% 11 66.579% 9 66.579% 12 67.368% 10 64.474% 15 66.579% 12


Wilcox, Lisa USA Pikko Del Cerro HU
67.368% 12 63.947% 14 65.789% 14 65.789% 12 65.263% 13 65.632% 13

Adams, Carolyn USA Winterprinz
64.211% 14 63.684% 15 66.316% 13 64.474% 16 65.789% 12 64.895% 14

Darnell, Claire USA Calimar
64.211% 14 62.632% 16 65.526% 16 65.789% 12 65.263% 13 64.684% 15

Noone, Tom USA Fred Astair