Ravel Retirement Ceremony in Del Mar Saturday – A Retrospective
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Ravel will be officially retired at the Del Mar National in California Saturday night after a too-brief career in which he was the top dressage horse in the United States for almost five years, became only the second horse ridden for America to win a World Cup title and the only one to captue the CDIO at the world’s most prestigious equestrian event, the World Equestrian Festival at Aachen, Germany. And he picked up U.S. Horse of the Year award.
Bought by Akiko Yamazaki in 2006 as a prospective Olympic mount for Steffen Peters of San Diego, California the horse seemed snakebit after arriving from the stables of Edward Gal in the Netherlands. First, Ravel had to be gelded in quarantine and then an injury in 2007 deferred training for several months.
The pair performed their first CDI in the United States in February, 2008 and then competed in another couple before the United States selection trials for the Olympic team.
The performance of the partnership at the Olympics was amazing and came closer than any American since Col. Hiram Tuttle on his aptly named Olympic won bronze at the Los Angeles Games in 1932.
In his show career that began early in 2008 and ended at last summer’s Olympics in London, Ravel was ridden by Steffen in only 20 CDIs because, as he put it, “we were always in a competitive preserving mode” but “it worked out beautifully.”
He’s now living on Akiko’s farm in Northern California, where she rides him several times a week.
Akiko and Steffen hold the World Cup Final that Ravel won as the most memorable moment, an instant captured in the photo at the top of this report.
“Every competition has a great meaning for me,” Akiko said, “but the most joyful memory for me is World Cup Las Vegas 2009 perhaps because I was, at that point, still ‘innocent’ about forming any expectations. He won the Grand Prix by quite a margin. While the other horses were having trouble with the environment, Ravel came in, calm yet powerful.
“The next day, though, when Isabell’s scores came up for the freestyle, I talked myself into settling for second place. Ravel had never had those kind of scores.
“When his scores came up and the whole stadium roared, my older daughter who was not even 5 years old at the time got so startled that she started crying! It was a moment that Ravel’s status was catapulted onto the top and we were no longer the underdog. We had a great party afterwards in the hotel. I don’t know how many people stopped by. Everyone’s spirit was buoyed by the results. It was just pure joy and celebration.”
Steffen: “You will always remember the very first win at a major championship. The most exciting part was, that Ravel was still in the arena when the scores came up. I will never forget thousands of Ravel fans erupting in the Thomas and Mack center, all at once.
“Numerous times, I tried to put this feeling into words. But I’ll never be able to explain the gratitude and the appreciation for what Ravel had done for us on this particular night.”