USA Olympic Team ALL BUT SET near end of SELECTION TRIALS
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
GLADSTONE, New Jersey, June 15–Tina Konyot and Calecto V scored above 80 per cent in the Grand Prix in the second stage of the United States’ Olympic selection trials Friday to lead a feast of personal best scores for the dozen combinations seeking a ticket to London.
Tina and her 2010 World Equestrian Games partner received a score of 80.149 per cent from the ground jury of five American judges to place them ahead of Steffen Peters and Legolas with 78.660 per cent. Steffen will be going into the Olympic competition arena on Ravel who was excused from these trials because of his performance history including two individual bronze medals at the Kentucky WEG.
Jan Ebeling and Rafalca, under a searing media spotlight because one of the owners is Ann Romney, wife of Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, placed third with 75.255 per cent and third in the overall standings that likely assures the pair of being one of the four Americans to be in London–three for the team and one individual.
Mitt called Jan to congratulate him on Friday’s performance.
Eight of 12 combinations that started this second weekend of the selection trials at this century-old headquarters of the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation were awarded personal best scores–including the three top placings–compared with the official CDI records, though this is a national show. Of the four other horses and riders, three pairs were from California where rewards are frequently more generous than other parts of the world.
After three of the four selection trials–two Grand Prix and two Olympic Grand Prix Special with each counting for 25 per cent of the total–with a second Special scheduled for Saturday, the rankings for combinations that can qualify for the Games beginning July 27 are:
1. Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida and Calecto V — 57.401
2. Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, California, and Rafalca — 54.708
3. Tood Flettrich of Wellington, Florida and Otto — 54.331
4. Adrienne Lyle of Ketchum, Idaho and Wizard — 53.836
5. Heather Blitz of Wellington and Paragon — 52.606
6. Günter Seidel of Cardiff, California and Fandango — 52.581
7. Pierre St. Jacques of Anthony, Florida, and Lucky Tiger — 52.265
8. Susan Blinks of Encinitas, California and Robin Hood — 51.197
9. Shawna Harding of Aiken, South Carolina and Come On III — 51.138
10. Kathleen Raine of Murieta, California and Breanna — 50.930
11. Jim Koford of Wellington and Rhett — 50.714
Steffen Peters of San Diego, California and Legolas are atop the U.S. Grand Prix Championship rankings but he will be paired in London with Ravel.
Katherine Bateson-Chandler of Wellington and Nartan, Lauren Sammis of South Orange, New Jersey and Sagacious HF and Cesar Parra of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and Van the Man dropped out of the trials before the start of the second week.
Tina Konyot said after her ride on the 14-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion (Come Back II x Bshera x Rastell) that she was so concentrated she was not aware of the score.
“I looked up at one stage and saw 79 and thought the scoreboard might be broken,” she said.
“We can still improve, we can make it better. I have it better in the warmup.”
Steffen, asked how he felt being second after finishing first in every competition since he started riding the horse last Christmas, said:”Once in a while, a kick in the butt is all right.”
Jan Ebeling, who has been among the most consistent performers with Rafalca at these national championships, said he has blocked out the unprecedented media coverage of him–from late night national TV show hosts joking about dressage, to some of the largest newspapers labeling the pair as symbols of wealth in the overheated presidential political campaign to the hilarious spoof on dressage by Stephen Colbert on the Comedy Channel.
“I thought the Stephen Colbert piece was hilarious,” he said. “Dressage got a big boost out of it.
“I try not to let it affect me. When I go into the ring, I go in my zone, I focus.
“Horse shows are another day at the office.”
Jan and Rafalca this year competed at their third World Cup Final.
Axel Steiner, a 5* judge who was not on the panel for Friday’s Grand Prix but provided broadcast commentary, was asked whether the judging duplicated the “European syndrome” of awarding high scores in national shows before a world championship.
“I think everybody started peaking at the right time,” he said, noting improvements from the previous weekend’s results.
“The scores are right on. I think the judging panel did a really good good job. Overall it was solid judging and solid riding.”