Brian Hafner & Lombardo Win Final 2013/14 North American World Cup Event

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Brian Hafner - Lombardo LHF

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, California, Mar. 24, 2014–Brian Hafner and Lombardo LHF posted a personal best score to be the upset winner of the last of nine 2013/14 World Cup North American League events, but the effort by the 25-year-old fell short of changing the final top two rankings.

Brian of Sonoma in California’s wine country and the 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding that he rode to medal-winning performances at the North American Young Rider Championships in 2009 scored 71.800 per cent in the Grand Prix Freestyle. It was the third straight freestyle victory for the pair and the first time in five freestyle performances they have scored over 70 per cent.

The win came over Olympic and world championship riders, both from Southern California–Jan Ebeling and his new Grand Prix mount FRH Rassolini was second on 70.775 per cent and Kathleen Raine and Breanna third on 70.275 per cent.

Brian won the World Cup Freestyle at Burbank, California last month and the CDI3* Freestyle at Rancho Murieta last June

“I’m a little surprised by how well we did because there are big names here and stiff competition,” said Brian whose music was from Iron Man 3. “But I feel like we fixed a lot of what we needed to after Burbank, and it proved successful today. We had a couple small mistakes but overall it was much more solid than our last outing. I’m really proud of my horse and how far we’ve come.”

He was recently awarded a $25,000 Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize that he plans to use to work with Johan Hinnemann in Germany after the United States national championships in June.

Jan Ebeling, the 2012 U.S. Olympic team rider on Rafalca, rode the 10-year-old Hanoverian stallion Rassolini in the Freestyle. The 10-year-old was bought last year by the Vintage Equestrian Group that includes the “Three Amigos” of Ann Romney, the wife of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Beth Meyer and Amy Ebeling that own Rafalca.

The 2010 Nürnberger Burgpokal champion was away from home overnight for the first time at this weekend’s Capistrano International Dressage competition.

“Our warm-up was shorter today than in Saturday’s Grand Prix, and that worked out much better,” he said. “This is his first season at this level and we’re still figuring it all out, but I think he’s an exciting horse and there’s a lot of potential there. I’m thrilled.”

Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida and Calecto V and Cesar Parra of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey and Van the Man secured the top two spots in the North American League in World Cup events in Wellington, Florida and will head to Lyon, France for the Final three weeks from now.

Both combinations will be fully funded by United States equestran organizations, possibly for the first time.

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) approves European World Cup Final schedules that do not cover even half the costs of North American and Pacific League contestants. However, when the Final is in the United States as it was three times so far this century and will be again next year the American organizer is made to pick up the costs of at least nine European horse and rider combinations.