Steffen Peters & Legolas Win USA Championships Grand Prix

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Steffen Peters and Legolas after winning the Festival of Champions Grand Prix. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters and Legolas after winning the Festival of Champions Grand Prix. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

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 Peters riding Legolas in the passage without the "hitch" that has limited their results. © 213 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters riding Legolas in the passage without the “hitch” that has limited their results. © 213 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

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.”

Kathleen Raine on Breanna atbthe Festival of Champions Grand Prix. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-new.com
Kathleen Raine on Breanna atbthe Festival of Champions Grand Prix. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-new.com

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.

Günter Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Günter Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

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.

Results:

Grand Prix

Place
Horse                   Rider            State E: Foy-USA  H: Gribbons-USA  C: Rockwell-USA  M: Gardner-GBR  B: Zang-USA 
E H C M B Total
1 LEGOLAS STEFFEN PETERS
FOUR WINDS FARM
CA 76.702     78.723     76.915     77.553     75.106     77.000% 
2 BREANNA KATHLEEN RAINE
KATHLEEN RAINE
CA 70.106     70.638     72.766     72.872     73.298     71.936% 
3 CORAL REEF WYLEA GUENTER SEIDEL
CORAL REEF RANCH
CA 69.255     71.596     74.149     72.128     70.319     71.489% 
4 VAN THE MAN CESAR PARRA
MICHAEL DAVIS
NJ 69.681     70.106     71.383     71.702     73.511     71.277% 
5 DOKTOR SHELLY J. FRANCIS
PATRICIA STEMPEL
FL 71.170     71.809     70.426     70.000     69.787     70.638% 
6 LOMBARDO LHF BRIAN HAFNER
BRIAN HAFNER
CA 68.723     67.553     67.128     69.681     67.660     68.149% 
7 WRIGLEY SHARON MCCUSKER
SHARON MCCUSKER
MA 68.085     67.660     67.340     67.872     65.106     67.213% 
8 RHETT JAMES KOFORD
SHIRLEY MCQUILLAN
KY 63.830     62.872     65.638     65.426     62.766     64.106% 

 Prix St. Georges

Place
Horse                  Rider                        State E: Foy-USA  H: Gardner-GBR  C: Zang-USA  M: Lamping-USA  B: Gribbons-USA 
E H C M B Total
1 ROSMARIN KIMBERLY HERSLOW
KIROLI ENTERPRISES LLC
NJ 74.868     76.842     75.000     76.842     75.395     75.789% 
2 HER HIGHNESS O CAROLINE ROFFMAN
CAROLINE ROFFMAN
FL 74.079     71.316     75.132     73.026     70.658     72.842% 
3 DANILO SHELLY J. FRANCIS
PATRICIA STEMPEL
FL 71.316     66.053     70.000     72.105     67.763     69.447% 
4 WAKEUP EMILY JUCHSER WAGNER
EMILY JUCHSER WAGNER
KS 67.237     68.158     69.342     68.289     69.474     68.5% 
5 FABERGE JESSICA JO TATE
ELIZABETH GUARISCO
FL 71.447     68.158     67.105     68.553     65.789     68.211% 
6 VINTERPOL SARAH LOCKMAN
PAMELA MUNSON
CA 67.237     68.947     65.789     67.368     68.158     67.5% 
7 CLEOPATRA GEORGE W WILLIAMS
ELIZABETH B. JULIANO
OH 69.079     66.842     66.053     67.895     67.500     67.474% 
8 CALIFORNIA CHABLIS BRIAN HAFNER
JULIE YOUNG
CA 67.000     67.763     66.974     68.289     66.974     67.4% 
9 WYATT STAR JUSTIN HARDIN
JUDITH CARDELLA
NJ 68.421     66.842     65.526     68.289     65.921     67% 
10 CALIMAR CLAIRE DARNELL
CLAIRE DARNELL
TX 65.526     62.500     63.684     66.447     66.447     64.921% 
11 ZANIA JAMI KMENT
JAMI KMENT
NE 63.026     64.211     65.395     65.921     64.737     64.658% 
12 PETETA STEPHANIE BUSLEY
STEPHANIE BUSLEY
CO 64.211     61.579     62.237     66.842     65.789     64.132%