Steffen Peters & Legolas Win US Championship Grand Prix, Jan Ebeling & Rafalca Runnerup, 3 Under-30 Women Riders Tie for 4th
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
GLADSTONE, New Jersey, June 12, 2014–Steffen Peters and Legolas, as expected, won the U.S. Championship Grand Prix Thursday, but the Olympic celebrity couple of Jan Ebeling and Rafalca turned in probably the best ever ride for runnerup while a trio of under-30 women riders starred in all tying for fourth place.
Steffen of San Diego, California said the ride on the 12-year-old Westfalen gelding on whom he won the 2013 championship was “certainly not our best” and scored 75.160 per cent at the championship presented by The Dutta Corp. at the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters on gray, rainy day.
He said the warmup with Legolas was rushed as right before he rode two horses, Rosamunde for 75,974 per cent and Apassionata for 72.921 per cent to place first and second in the Prix St.Georges as well as coached another rider.
An ecstatic Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, California and the 17-year-old Oldenburg mare that he rode on the American team at the London Olympics in 2012 had the highest Grand Prix score at 73.320 per cent, but the championships are a national competition and Peter Holler of Germany was the only non-American on the five-judge panel.
“Awesome,” was the way Jan described the ride on Rafalca that is owned by group of three women, Ann Romney, the wife of Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for the United States presidency in 2012, Beth Meyer and Jan’s wife, Amy Ebeling.
“I am absoluely thrilled with my horse,” he said. “It’s a good place for me mentally. I know what I have. There is no fear factor. I know what she will do every step of the way.
“She is fit. The strategy for the past seveal months of not showing a lot seems to be paying off. She was right on, very focused. I was very focused myself. I’ve been working a lot with a sports psychologist.
“The ride was definitely right up there. It might have been my best one.”
Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida and Calecto V were third on 72.620 per cent, a ride she described as
not her best.
But she said the 16-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion was lethargic after competing during the three months of the Global Dressage Festival in Florida then flying to Europe for the World Cup Final in Lyon, France where he ran a fever that required treatment before flying home to prepare for this Festival of Champions as the national titles are called.
Three combinations tied for fourth place on 72.620 per cent, all women riders under 30 years of age:
–Adrienne Lyle, 29 years old, of Ketchum, Idaho and Wizard who rode for the United States at the 2012 Olympics;
–Caroline Roffman, 25, of Wellington, Florida and Her Highness O, and
–Laura Graves, 26, of Geneva, Florida and Verdades.
The Grand Prix counts for 45 per cent toward the championship, with the Grand Prix Special on Saturday 40 per cent the Freestyle Sunday worth 15 per cent.
As with some other national championships with judging panels dominated by local judges there was widespread cynicism about the results, with many admitting the scores are irrelevant–awarding high scores to “send a message” has lost its impact with universal availability of youtube and streaming–as long as the placings are correct.
Some placings had both spectators and riders scratching their heads.
One of the most glaring was for Arlene Page of Wellington, Florida who did not compete her Alina on the Florida winter circuit but showed at Hagen, Germany in a major CDI4* for a score of 70.160 per cent and fifth place six weeks ago.
Thursday, the pair scored 70.192 per cent with the sole European judge placing the pair fourth while the four American judges placed her eighth to 11th.
Gary Rockwell, FEI5* judge who is president of the ground jury, said in response to questions that some of the scores may have been higher than the combination had previously but he thought the judging was “very good.”
“I think we all ride better when we go to Gladstone,” he said, “everyone puts in their best effort.
“I didn’t think anything was inflated. For the most part, everyone had a good ride. I think the placings were correct.”
The national title is only one consideration for the Grand Prix.
This championship also determines eight combinations to go to Europe to compete at Fritzens, Austria CDI4* July Fourth weekend and the World Equestrian Fesival CDIO5* and CDI4* at Aachen, Germany from which the team will be selected to go to the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France at the end of August.
Up for grabs is the festival’s biggest ever purse, $155,000, most of it going to Grand Prix.
The U.S. Championships could not be viewed on live streaming though the Danish championships last week and the German championships three weeks ago were video streamed live from beginning to end.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation said they decided the Grand Prix and other championships the first two days would be available on demand but did not plan to stream live until the weekend.
PRIX ST. GEORGES