Reinvigorated USA Team Places 3rd in Aachen Nations Cup
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
AACHEN, Germany, June 27–Steffen Peters and Legolas led a United States team that was upbeat and focused to a third place finish in the prestigious Nations Cup at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Thursday that new coach Robert Dover described as a “great start” on the road to the world championships next year and the Olympics in 2016.
The United States which last competed in the team competition at Aachen two years ago for fourth place, scored 217.298 to finish behind Germany and Denmark out of nine teams in the Nations Cup.
Steffen of San Diego, California and the 11-year-old Westfalen gelding (Laomedon x Florestan II) owned by Akiko Yamazaki’s Four Winds Farm placed fifth individually on 75.298 per cent in the pair’s second competition outside the United States. Legolas was bought 18 months ago and competed in California and Florida before showing at Horses & Dreams in Hagen, Germany in April.
“This is Aachen,” he told dressage-news.com after his ride. “We have to show up for this. It’s the real deal.
“Everything that has gone before were rehearsals for this.”
Team mates Thursday were:
* Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida on Calecto V, 15-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion (Come Back II x Rastell) that was on the American team at the 2012 Olympics and the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kenucky and scored 71.064 per cent;
* Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, California and Rafalca, the 16-year-old Oldenburg mare (Argentinius x Rubinstein) owned by Ann Romney, Amy Ebeling and Beth Meyer that scored 70.935 per cent, and
* Shelly Francis of Loxahatchee, Florida and Doktor, 10-year-old Oldenburg geding (Diamond Hit x Gurena x Renoir I) owned by Patricia Stempel that scored 69.596 per cent.
Some of the biggest applause of the competition came for Rafalca, the mare that became a celebrity during the Olympic year in 2012 because one of the horse’s owner was Ann Romney, wife of American Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and for Steffen who swept the CDIO competition on Ravel here in 2009 as well as winning the small tour on Weltino’s Magic in 2011.
The top three scores count for the final result.
“They all came to Aachen,” Robert Dover said, “and they all showed up today.
“They all gave 100 per cent. I could not be more proud of the team.
“This was a great start on the road to Normandy (in 2014) and Rio de Janeiro (in 2016).”
Steffen Peters said Legolas started out “super hot” and clapping from the crowd of 5,000 spectators before the ride made the horse “super nervous.”
“I couldn’t back off, though,” he said. “This is Aachen.”
The first halt was of extremely short durationbut the rest of the ride was, he said, “fabulous.”
The half passes, extended trot, piaffe and passage were “as much as can be expected” of Legolas and produced a “super day.”
Tina and Calecto were scoring above 73 per cent before the final centerline when they broke into canter from passage and that dropped the score.