Steffen & Ravel Win World Dressage Masters Palm Beach Freestyle
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Jan. 28–Steffen Peters and Ravel on Saturday night won their second straight World Dressage Masters Grand Prix Freestyle, fending off a late challenge from the British star combination of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro that brought a standing ovation from the sellout crowd.
Only 0.050 of a percentage point separated the top U.S. combination with 83.700 per cent and Charlotte and Valegro on 83.650 per cent.
As Steffen said, “It felt like I was in a major championship game and I kicked a field goal with one second left to win the game.”
“We have never done a better freestyle. I wish we could just keep this up for the next seven months,” in a reference to the London Olympics in summer.
But he admitted he watched Charlotte’s ride and told her when she came out of the arena, “I think you have it.”
Charlotte’s response to coming so close: “Almost.”
The crowd gasped at the power of the 10-year-old KWPN gelding (Negro x Mallfleur x Gerschwin) Valegro whose score was slightly below their personal best of 83.700 per cent at Olympia in London in December. But to put the performance into context it was only the third freestyle for the pair that began competing at Grand Prix just 10 months ago.
Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén and Favourit (Fidermark x Wapita x Woldchamp) were third on 78.250 per cent in the debut of their new “It’s Broadway!” of Swing era tunes choreographed by Cees Slings. Their score was also a personal best.
The five judges were divided on the winner.
Stephen Clarke of Great Britain, Wim Ernes of The Netherlands and Lois Yukins of the U.S. gave first place scores to Steffen and the Akiko Yamazaki-owned 14-year-old KWPN gelding (Contango x Hautain x Demcraat), with Lois giving the high score of 85.750 per cent.
Isabelle Judet of France and Gary Rockwell of the U.S. placed Charlotte first with Lois Yukins’ score of 79.625 per cent being the only one below 80 per cent.
Wim Ernes, president of the ground jury, said that Ravel’s level of difficulty was what gave him the edge and the win.
“They went to the limit,” he said. “That’s real sport.”
The Grand Prix Special earlier in the day was won by Adrienne Lyle of Ketchum, Idaho, and Wizard with a score of 73.244 per cent.
Adrienne, 27, said the 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas, “handled everything beautifully. I’m really excited and happy.”
Adrienne placed fourth in the Grand Prix that qualified her for the freestyle but she opted to ride in the Grand Prix Special to seek a qualifying score for the Olympic selection trials.
Heather Blitz of Wellington, Florida, and Paragon, her nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, placed second with 72.044 per cent. Four months ago, the pair were showing small tour when they won team gold and individual silver at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“Who would have thought that just a few months ago I was in the small tour?” she said. “Now I am not only in the Grand Prix, but scoring over 70 in the Masters.”
Third place went to Todd Flettrich, also of Wellington, and Cherry Knoll Farm’s Otto, with 69.933 per cent.
Results of the Grand Prix Freestyle:
1. Steffen Peters (USA) Ravel – 83.700%
2. Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) Valegro – 83.650%
3. Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén (SWE) Favourit – 78.250%
4. Carl Hester(GBR) Wie-Atlantico De Ymas – 74.850%
5. Anja Plönzke (GER) Le Mont d’Or – 74.800%
6. Tina Konyot (USA) Calecto V – 73.025%
7. Ashley Holzer (CAN) Breaking Dawn – 71.325%
8. Minna Telde (SWE) Deinhardt – 71.000%
Results of the Grand Prix Special:
1. Adrienne Lyle (USA) Wizard – 73.244%
2. Heather Blitz (USA) Paragon – 72.044%
3. Todd Flettrich (USA) Otto – 69.933%
4. Pierre St. Jacques (USA) Lucky Tiger – 66.742%
5. Per Sandgaard (SWE) Lomumba Havdal – 64.889%
6. Victoria Winter (CAN) Proton – 63.889%
7. James Koford (USA) Pharaoh – 63.089%
8. Yvonne Losos de Muñiz (DOM) Liebling II – 62.911%