Steffen Peters and Ravel Make Clean Sweep of Grand Prix Championship
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GLADSTONE, New Jersey, Sept.11– Steffen Peters made history Sunday when he became the first rider to win both the U.S. National Grand Prix and Intermediare Championships in the same year.
Despite problems in the piaffe during their freestyle, breathtaking half passes and tiny, balanced pirouettes ensured Steffen of San Diego, California, and his Olympic and World Equestrian Games mount, Ravel, a score of 81.10 per cent, for a total Championship score of 79.20 per cent. This was enough to easily win the Grand Prix Championship, only hours after claiming the intermediare title on Weltino’s Magic on whom he will lead the United States Team at next month’s Pan American Games.
Grand Prix reserve champion was Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida, and Calecto V who received 77.60 per cent for their expressive and fun freestyle, for a total championship score of 72.80 per cent. Shawna Harding of Aiken, South Carolina, on her World Cup Final mount Come On III was third on 72.40 per cent.
Akiko Yamazaki’s 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding cruised to a title that they last won in 2008. Ravel was tired after putting in a tremendous effort in the Grand Prix Special on Friday.
“Interesting, obviously a little tough on the finish line,” Steffen said. “There was the one piaffe that didn’t happen and that makes me not think about the other movements that were good… the changes and pirouettes were better than Aachen.”
Ravel always tries, but Steffen knew based on how well behaved his superstar was in the prize giving, that the horse is ready for a vacation. He has had a busy few years, competing and winning at the biggest shows on both sides of the Atlantic.
“He gave everything he had in in the Grand Prix Special,” he said. “This clearly shows us he needs a break which he will get next month.”
Ravel’s music is from the original score from “Avatar” but it is composed by the Slovakian orchestra specifically for him. Peters indicated that getting the music right was an arduous process but now the music and the choreography are set.
“I think we have the choreography down where everyone thinks it’s difficult enough.”
This was Ravel’s first trip to Gladstone to compete, and Steffen said “it’s always special.”
“My first championship here was in 1992, I won first here in 1995, I have special memories here and it is always a step above other venues.”
The 2010 National Dressage Champion had to settle for second in this year, but Tina put in a convincing effort on her 13-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion Calecto V. Their freestyle, performed to K.T. Tunstall’s “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree,” is always a crowd favorite.
“My horse felt fabulous today,” she said. “I was very happy; it is a constant improvement… Overall I was very, very pleased with it… It’s a fun freestyle.”
She finished on a three-day percentage of 72.829% and her freestyle score of 77.600% was her third second-place score of the weekend.
Shawna Harding was third in the Grand Prix on Thursday, sixth in the Grand Prix Special with Come On III, but rebounded in the Freestyle to finish on a three-day percentage of 68.542 per cent. She credits her trip to Europe last summer with helping improve Come On III at the highest level.
At only 12, the Danish Warmblood gelding is maturing into a top horse for Harding.
“He is really coming onto his game,” she said. “The piaffe is getting really good. It was really good in the ring today. My big horse is scared to death and has a huge heart; I’m a proud of him.”