Steffen Peters & Legolas Win USA Championships Grand Prix
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Oct. 9–Steffen Peters on Legolas staked an early claim to their second straight national championships with a dominating performance in the Grand Prix on Wednesday at the Festival of Champions presented by Dutta Corp.
Steffen of San Diego, California and the 11-year-old Westfalen gelding scored 77.000 per cent that was higher than any CDI result the pair have posted at Grand Prix in more than 18 months of competitions on both sides of the Atlantic.
The ground jury at the festival–not a CDI–was made up of four United States judges, three of them the top rated 5*, and Andrew Gardner of Great Britain, the sole foreign jurist.
Kathleen Raine of Murrieta, California and Breanna, the 13-year-old mare she competed in Europe this summer as one of almost two dozen combinations to cross the Atlantic, was second on 71.936 per cent while Günter Seidel of Cardiff, California on Coral Reef Wylea was third on 71.489 per cent.
Only eight combinations started in the Grand Prix, five from California. Three of the five pairs ranked highest by the U.S. Equestrian Federation based on scores did not show. The top three in the Brentina Cup Under-25 division were also not in the lineup.
The competition arena was the same as the main venue for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, a magnificent grand stand built for thousands of spectators with a beautiful green landscape surround and impeccable footing–but fewer than two dozen spectators peppered the thousands of green seats on the opening day of national championships for Grand Prix, Intermediaire 1, Brentina Cup Under-25, YoungRiders, Juniors and Ponies.
And the total of 58 entries barring the ponies that were added three years ago was the lowest number of entries in five years.
The Prix St. Georges as the first element of the Intermediaire Championship was, however, intensely competitive with Kimberly Herslow of Stockton, New Jersey on Rosmarin continuing their succession of victories with a score of 75.789 per cent.
Caroline Roffman of Wellington, Florida and Her Highness O on whom she has been successful both in the United States and Europe placed second on 72.842 per cent and Shelly Francis, of Loxahatchee, Florida, another of the top combinations to compete in Europe, was third on Danillo with 69.447 per cent.
The quality of the Grand Prix was high despite the small number of entries.
Steffen said that after European competitions at Hagen and Aachen in Germany this year he had to deal with a “hitch” in Legolas’s passage that impacted their results.
His longtime coach, Johann Hinnemann figured that Steffen was riding the passage too far forward.
Steffen trained the correction with more engagement, keeping the gait very, very small and lots of half steps.
The result: no “hitch” in Wednesday’s ride.
The effect of the European competitions was underscored by Kathleen Raine on Breanna which she competed for seven weeks in Germany and England with outstanding results and that she said helped get the mare stronger for the top level of the sport.
“She is much more consistent in the piaffe and passage,” Kathleen said. “It has really worked on getting her more supple and getting her stronger.”
Günter Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea did not have a great start in the Grand Prix but it got better as it went along and he overcame those bobbles to finish in the third place.
All three riders were disappointed that not all of the top combinations were competing this year though they admitted they did not know why the field was so small and were reluctant to criticize their peers. After all, the three are at the highest level and they showed up.
“I would certainly like to see the top 12 to 15 riders riders show up,” Steffen said, “…especially in the year before the world games.”
Kathleen said, ” I don’t know why they are not here, but I agree with Steffen.”
Günter suggested that maybe there should be a rule for ranked riders to be required to compete at the national championships.
One aspect of the American high performance program all three top finishers agreed on was the role of Robert Dover, the officially designated Technical Advisor/Chef’ d’Equipe as of the beginning of this year.
Steffen: The results speak for themselves. He’s been productive. It’s just wonderful to have Robert… he’s been great… not just as the Chef d’Equipe but as the coach. He does an amazing job.
Kathleen: I agree. The way he has pushed to get so many riders to Europe.
Günter: We need to compete in Europe… we owe so much to those who have made it possible for us to do that.
||Horse Rider State||E: Foy-USA H: Gribbons-USA C: Rockwell-USA M: Gardner-GBR B: Zang-USA|
FOUR WINDS FARM
|3||CORAL REEF WYLEA||GUENTER SEIDEL
CORAL REEF RANCH
|4||VAN THE MAN||CESAR PARRA
|5||DOKTOR||SHELLY J. FRANCIS
|6||LOMBARDO LHF||BRIAN HAFNER
Prix St. Georges
||Horse Rider State||E: Foy-USA H: Gardner-GBR C: Zang-USA M: Lamping-USA B: Gribbons-USA|
KIROLI ENTERPRISES LLC
|2||HER HIGHNESS O||CAROLINE ROFFMAN
|3||DANILO||SHELLY J. FRANCIS
|4||WAKEUP||EMILY JUCHSER WAGNER
EMILY JUCHSER WAGNER
|5||FABERGE||JESSICA JO TATE
|7||CLEOPATRA||GEORGE W WILLIAMS
ELIZABETH B. JULIANO
|8||CALIFORNIA CHABLIS||BRIAN HAFNER
|9||WYATT STAR||JUSTIN HARDIN