Steffen Peters & Legolas Post Highest Olympic Grand Prix Special Score in USA in Near Error-Free Ride
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
BURBANK, California, Feb. 25–Steffen Peters rode his first Olympic Grand Prix Special Saturday on Legolas rather than Ravel to post the highest score of any American so far in a performance that showed none of the “green” mistakes from their first ever CDI outing a day earlier at the Mid-Winter Dressage World Cup event.
The pair’s score of 74.289 per cent totally dominated the Olympic Special, a shortened version of the traditional Special, that is critical as it and the Grand Prix will decide the team competition at the London Games. Kathleen Raine and her Breanna were second on 67.778 per cent and Kim McGrath and Winslow third on 65.933 per cent.
The ride on the 10-year-old gelding (Laomedon x Furstin x Florestan II) that has been in his barn for two months, Steffen said, was “unbelievable.” The Olympic Special concentrates on the piaffe and passage and is better suited for Legolas.
The Grand Prix on Friday was won by the pair despite “green” mistakes that kept the score at 71.000 per cent.
“Two things don’t lie,” Steffen said after the Special, “the video camera and my wife, Shannon. The Grand Prix ride from Friday was on YouTube. I watched it at least 20 times. I was very happy with how honest and expressive he was, but I rode him too much forward. It looked too hurried. I rode him like I ride Ravel in a CDI–we go for it.
“I toned it way down today. It looked much more relaxed and clean, and worked out beautifully.”
Jane Ayers of the USA, one of the five judges, agreed. “He is still a little insecure in a couple of the movements,” she said, “but the overall presentation is wonderful. He is only going to get better and better.”
One error in the Grand Prix that was improved more than it should in the Special was the one-tempis–from changes that were not made to 17 rather than the required 15.
“They felt already better in the warmup,” he said. “I was so thrilled and knew that after 13 I was so into it I could make him stop at 15. I started earlier so 15 would be at the end of the diagonal which would be get him to stop, but he kept going. I was happy he stopped after nine one-tempis on the centerline.”
Legolas, he said, “can give you an incredible feeling, it is hard to describe what the passage feels like because there is so much air time for him to do it with that much ease and with that much regularity behind. It is is just amazing.”
Steffen said that he feels he might have a partnership not only with the the body of Legolas but “it seems we have his mind as well,” as indicated by an action as simple as taking off his hat in salute at the end of a ride and he stood so beautifully. “It sounds silly but those are the little things that make a huge difference.”