Steffen Peters & Legolas Overcome Error to Take USA National Championships Grand Prix Special

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Steffen Peters and Legolas in the Grand Prix Special at the U.S. Festival of Champions. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters and Legolas in the Grand Prix Special at the U.S. Festival of Champions. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Oct. 11–Steffen Peters overcame an error of course that he was certain he would never make but he overcame it to ride Legolas to victory in the Grand Prix Special Friday night for the pair’s second win in the USA National Championships presented by the Dutta Corp.

“The horse was great, the rider wasn’t good,” Steffen said of the ride on the 11-year-old Westfalen gelding that was scored at 74.771 per cent and came after their Grand Prix win on 77.000 per cent. With the Grand Prix Freestyle to be performed Saturday night but counting for only 15 per cent of the combined results Steffen of San Diego, California is virtually certain to claim the second straight U.S. championship with Legolas.

“I saw at the Europeans (Championships in Denmark in August) three riders make mistakes and I thought, ‘that could never ever happen to me.’ I looked at the ring and went over the test at least 10 times. I had the order of movements in my mind. Still it happened.”

Despite the error, Steffen led a California sweep of the top placings in the Special under lights with a sparse crowd in the Kentucky Horse Park main stadium. Californians made up half of the starting lineup of just eight combinations.

Günter Seidel of Cardiff and Coral Reef Wylea were second on 71.917 per cent and Kathleen Raine of Murrieta and Breanna were third on 70.771 per cent.

Steffen’s error shaved a miniscule 10 points–two for each of the five judges–off the result that totaled 358.900, but he clearly wasn’t happy.

“It was the cleanest test we’ve had,” he said, “Legolas was fabulous. It didn’t matter too much tonight but I would have been really upset if this would have happened in a team competition. I’m confident it won’t happen again.”

Günter Seidel riding Coral Reef Wylea inthe Festival of Champions Grand Prix Special. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Günter Seidel riding Coral Reef Wylea in the Festival of Champions Grand Prix Special. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

For Günter, like Steffen a German transplant to Southern California and a multi-Olympian for the United States, the ride on Coral Reef Wylea to second place “from the rideability and relaxation it was definitely the best test we’ve had.”

Wylea was bought last November from former U.S. team coach Klaus Balkenhol of Germany whose daughter, Anabel, a German Olympian, had lightly competed. Since then, Günter has competed successfully in California and Europe and now in their first Festival of Champions that is the championship for American dressage.

Steffen thought Günter’s ride on the 13-year-old Westfalen mare was scored a “a bit lower” than it should. “I saw him higher.

“It was exciting to watch clear improvements since Europe.”

All three of the top placegetters were in Europe this year as part of a revitalized dressage program that saw about 20 American combinations cross the Atlantic for training and competition including a third place finish in the Nations Cup at the Wold Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany and the silver medal team at Hckstead, England.

“The European tours were very successful and it is important to not only look at where we stand but where we are going,” Steffen said.

Kathleen Raine and Breanna in the USA Grand Prix Championship. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kathleen Raine and Breanna in the USA Grand Prix Championship. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Kathleen said she thinks a lot of the improvement at the top level of American dressage has had “a lot… to do with the trip to Europe to compete against the best. It only makes us try and get better. I think the quality is really coming up.”

Günter attributed improvement to competing against each other in California and also to U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover “constantly nags us to do better… in a good way.”

The Young Adult Brentina Cup Under-25 national championship was won by Emily Wagner of La Cygne, Kansas on her Weltdorff with an overall score of 65.578 per cent.

Genay Vaughn of Elk Grove, California rode Donarweiss GGF to reserve champion with an overall score of 64.646 per cent while Lauren Knopp of Wellington, Florida and Rantaro were third with 64.294 per cent.

Ayden Uhlir of Kirkland, Washington and Sjapoer won the Young Rider national championship with an overall score of 68.211 per cent, Rachel Chowanec of Columbia, Connecticut on Embrujado XI was reserve champion with an overall score of 66.356 per cent
and Kaitlin Blythe of Rougemon, North Carolina and Daverden third with an overall score of 65.645 per cent.

Every rider at these championships is required to wear a safety helmet as it is a national competition subject to U.S, rules and not those of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) that gives senior riders a choice of a helmet or a top hat. Not a single rider has been heard to complain about the helmet rule.

Results:

Grand Prix Special

Judges – E: Zang-USA  H: Foy-USA  C: Gribbons-USA  M: Rockwell-USA  B: Gardner-GBR 

Horse Rider/
Owner
Country Score
E
Score
H
Score
C
Score
M
Score
B
Total
Score
% Place
LEGOLAS STEFFEN PETERS
FOUR WINDS FARM
USA 74.583 73.021 76.563 74.375 75.313     358.900     74.771% 1
CORAL REEF WYLEA GUENTER SEIDEL
CORAL REEF RANCH
USA 71.771 71.354 70.625 72.292 73.542     345.200     71.917% 2
BREANNA KATHLEEN RAINE
KATHLEEN RAINE
USA 72.188 70.833 70.625 68.125 72.083     339.700     70.771% 3
DOKTOR SHELLY J. FRANCIS
PATRICIA STEMPEL
USA 69.167 69.688 71.354 69.375 70.313     335.900     69.979% 4
VAN THE MAN CESAR PARRA
MICHAEL DAVIS
USA 67.500 66.667 66.667 68.125 70.938     326.300     67.979% 5
RHETT JAMES KOFORD
SHIRLEY MCQUILLAN
USA 66.563 64.792 66.042 68.646 67.292     320.000     66.667% 6
WRIGLEY SHARON MCCUSKER
SHARON MCCUSKER
USA 65.938 66.458 66.042 66.875 67.500     319.500     66.562% 7
LOMBARDO LHF BRIAN HAFNER
BRIAN HAFNER
USA 65.417 66.667 64.167 66.354 68.229     317.600     66.167% 8

Championship standings 2013 FOC Grand Prix Division

YOUNG RIDER INDIVIDUAL

Judges – E: Foy-USA  H: Zang-USA  C: Gribbons-USA  M: Rockwell-USA  B: Gardner-GBR 

Horse Rider/
Owner
Country Score
E
Score
H
Score
C
Score
M
Score
B
Total
Score
% Place
SJAPOER AYDEN SPENCER UHLIR
AYDEN SPENCER UHLIR
USA 72.368 65.921 67.632 67.895 67.105     259.100     68.184% 1
EMBRUJADO XI RACHEL CHOWANEC
LENDON GRAY
USA 67.895 66.974 68.026 66.184 67.105     255.500     67.237% 2
DAVERDEN KAITLIN BLYTHE
KAITLIN BLYTHE
USA 67.500 63.684 67.500 64.342 68.158     251.700     66.237% 3
PROTEUS ROSEMARY JULIAN SIMOES
JULIE JULIAN
USA 66.447 68.158 63.158 64.211 67.500     250.400     65.895% 4
JUST LIVINGSTON ALEXA DERR
ALEXA DERR
USA 64.868 65.395 64.605 65.789 65.658     248.000     65.263% 5
YTZEN BENJAMIN C WINGER
BETH BUTLER
USA 63.553 64.605 64.605 66.316 65.658     246.800     64.947% 6
ROMINCKA CLARE KRSKA
CAROL KRSKA
USA 65.000 63.026 65.132 61.711 66.842     244.500     64.342% 7
PIP NICOLE CHIAPPETTI
AMANDA JOHNSON
USA 62.632 61.053 63.289 61.842 63.026     237.000     62.368% 8
LITTLE GRANNY JENNIFER FOULON
JENNIFER FOULON
USA 61.184 60.132 61.053 62.632 63.553     234.500     61.711% 9
MORGAN ENSHOJ KATELYN VICTORI KOK
KATELYN VICTORI KOK
USA 62.237 59.868 60.658 60.789 61.974     232.200     61.105% 10
SCHABOS WAITONGO GRACE GOODBY
GRACE GOODBY
USA 60.000 59.211 59.474 57.763 60.526     225.700     59.395% 11

2013 FOC Young Rider Division

Young Rider Grand Prix 16-25

Judges – E: Gribbons-USA  H: Foy-USA  C: Zang-USA  M: Gardner-GBR  B: Lamping-USA

Horse Rider/
Owner
Country Score
E
Score
H
Score
C
Score
M
Score
B
Total
Score
% Place
WELTDORFF EMILY JUCHSER WAGNER
EMILY JUCHSER WAGNER
USA 67.791 64.767 61.977 66.279 66.628     281.600     65.488% 1
RANTARO LAUREN KNOPP
LAUREN KNOPP
USA 67.558 63.953 65.116 63.605 63.605     278.500     64.767% 2
DONARWEISS GGF GENAY VAUGHN
STARR VAUGHN EQUESTRIAN INC
USA 63.256 64.767 63.140 64.070 63.023     273.700     63.651% 3
RAMSES KRISTEN BECKER
KRISTEN BECKER
USA 60.349 62.326 62.209 63.023 62.442     266.900     62.070% 4
PLATO CARLOS CASSANDRA HUMMERT-JOHNSON
CASSANDRA HUMMERT-JOHNSON
USA 58.605 62.209 60.349 61.628 60.233     260.600     60.605% 5

Championship standings – 2013 FOC Brentina Cup Division