Steffen Peters & Legolas 3rd in Aachen CDI5* Grand Prix In Final Show Before Pan Ams

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Steffen Peters on Legolas in the Aachen CDI5* Grand Prix/ © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters on Legolas in the Aachen CDI5* Grand Prix/ © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

AACHEN, Germany, May 30, 2015–Steffen Peters and Legolas, the reigning United States champions, placed third in the World Equestrian Festival CDI5* Grand Prix Saturday, their final international show before the Pan American Games and its unique format of mixed Big and Small Tour teams.

Steffen was “very happy” with the ride that scored 75.780 per cent, 0.52 percentage points behind winner Isabell Werth on Don Johnson FRH and 0.14 in back of runnerup Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén on her Swedish team Olympic and World Games mount Don Auriello.

“It was another clean ride,” said Steffen after the competition that was held in virtual winter weather of low temperature and icy winds.

Shelly Francis of Loxahatchee, Florida riding Doktor in the pair’s first European competition this year placed eighth on 70.600 per cent.

Steffen of San Diego, California said that he will not compete Legolas again in the European competition swing by most of the United States’ Big and Small Tour combinations seeking selection to the team that will compete at the Pan Ams in Toronto in mid-July.

The continental championships, held once every four years, are vital this year as only a single nation can earn through the Pan Ams a starting place in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and that team must include at least one Grand Prix combination. Second place means the more difficult and expensive procedure of qualifying at least three individual combinations to form a “composite” team.

Steffen said he was “a bit worried” when the crowd clapped as the pair entered the imposing Deutsche Bank Stadium but the noise-sensitive 13-year-old Westfalen gelding did not react as he did at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas six weeks ago. There, the noise spooked Legolas and a small cut apparently caused by one of Steffen’s spurs showed blood that led to automatic elimination.

Both the crowds and other top riders at their first European competition this year at Munich two weeks ago and at this event have expressed support for Steffen, known for soft aids, and his immediate expression of remorse with no excuses for the incident.

He was particularly happy, he said, being as close as the pair were to Tinne and Don Auriello.

A happy Akiko Yamazaki with Tom Meyers, the equine pysiotherapist, after the performance by Steffen Peters on her Legolas. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
A happy Akiko Yamazaki with Tom Meyers, the equine pysiotherapist, after the performance by Steffen Peters on her Legolas. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Akiko Yamazaki, the owner of Legolas as well as Rosamunde and the now-retired Ravel, was on hand to watch the performance.

Legolas has produced higher scores this year than his stablemate, the eight-year-old mare Rosamunde that began her Grand Prix career in January this year and thus will almost certainly be selected for the Pan Am team.

Laura Graves of Geneva, Florida on Verdades, team mates of Steffen and Legolas at last year’s World Games in Normandy, will likely be the other Grand Prix choice. The pair was excused from the European tour after traveling from Florida to Las Vegas for the World Cup Final and then to Hailey, Idaho to work with her coach, Debbie McDonald.

Shelly Francis on Doktor in the Aachen CDI5* Grand Prix. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Shelly Francis on Doktor in the Aachen CDI5* Grand Prix. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The American team will also include two small tour combinations for the Pan Ams to be selected after the final European show at Achleiten, Austria next weekend. Nominated entries will be sent to the U.S. Olympic Committee for approval by June 10 with entries due in Toronto by June 15.

The U.S. team will gather at Gladstone, New Jersey on July 2 then leave for Toronto on July 7.