Steffen Peters & Legolas Claim 1st CDI Grand Prix, at Burbank World Cup
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
BURBANK, California, Feb. 24–Legolas ridden by Steffen Peters gave a display of world class movements that were enough to overcome some green mistakes on Friday for the 10-year-old gelding to win its first ever CDI Grand Prix just two months since arriving in America.
Steffen and Legolas (Laomedon x Furstin x Florestan II) scored 71.000 per cent to lead a sweep of the top three placings by transplanted Germans, with Jan Ebeling and Rafalca second on 70.426 per cent and Günter Seidel and his new mount, Fandango, in third on 70.170 per cent.
The Grand Prix was officially for the Mid Winter Dressage Fair CDI-W, the first of two World Cup events in California this winter but in this Olympic year and with freestyles not even counting toward qualifying for the U.S. selection trials the focus among most top combinations is on the Grand Prix and the Olympic Grand Prix Special which will decide the Nations Cup competition in London.
The Grand Prix of 10 horses and riders thus became two competitions–for the new partnerships of Steffen and the Westfalen gelding, Legolas, and Günter and Fandango to embark on their quest to win a place in the U.S. Olympic selection trials and for World Cup aspirants looking to claim one of two places reserved for the North Ameican League at the Final in s’-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, in April.
Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, California, started this year’s World Cup campaign with the 15-year-old Oldenburg mare (Argentinius x Rabine – Rubinstein) dislaying a maturity and consistency developed from experience in World Cup Final appearances in Las Vegas in 2009 and at Leipzig, Germany, last year as well as the top shows in Europe.
He is one of only two combinations scheduled to start in the Freestyle Saturday.
The scores for Steffen of San Diego, California, and Legolas from the panel of five judges, Linda Zang and Jane Ayers of the U.S., Cara Whitham of Canada, Jean-Michele Roudier of France and Eddy de Wolff of The Netherlands, were liberally sprinkled with 8s and 9s for the piaffe and passage that compensated for low marks for mistakes in the one-tempi changes.
“What we can’t forget,” Steffen said of Legolas that was bought by Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang, the owners of Ravel, “is that Legolas has not been in the show arena for last five years except a national show we did here.”
Coming to a huge metropolis like Los Angeles introduced Legolas to an array of new experiences and sounds as anything he sees now is for the first time–the wail of sirens, helicopters whapping overhead.
Up until the time he left is last home with Ullrich Kasselmann of Performsnce Sales International in Germany, he had not seen much of the world.
“But he’s sensible and he’s getting used to it quickly,” Steffen said. “I’m thrilled. It’s exactly two months ago since he arrived. I simply couldn;t have asked for more.
“Everything needs to get a bit more relaxed, but it’s a hell of a start.”
He joked that after Friday’s result he will not be able to make excuses for not doing better even though Legolas has been with him for two months.
“But I’m already a big way ahead of Anne Gribbons (the U.S. team coach) who said we are going be kidding around for the next year and a half. I don’t like to disagree with her but I had a feeling things would click a bit sooner.”
Both Steffen and Legolas and Günter of Cardiff, California, and Fandango, a 17-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Feinbrand x St. Urgard x Figaro), will compete in the Olympic Grand Prix Special Saturday.
Steffen said that he had not yet practised a freestyle with Legolas, but plans to adapt a simplified version of Ravel’s “Cold Play” freestyle.
He said he is entered in the Del Mar Dressage Affaire World Cup event next month and then the selection trials in Gladstone in June. He hopes he can take Legolas when he leaves with Ravel for the U.S. Olympic training camp to make final preparations for the London dressage competition that starts the first week of August.
Günter Seidel was returning to the international show ring for the first time since the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen. Germany, last July shortly before the end of almost a quarter century sponsorship by Jane and Dick Brown that left him without any Grand Prix horses. In 2010, he suffered a serious riding accident in Germany.
He rode in both the Prix St. Georges and Grand Prix classes and said that he is “feeling excellent.”