Steffen Peters & Legolas Post Personal Best Score to Win Thousand Oaks World Cup Freestyle

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Steffen Peters and Legolas. File Photo © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters and Legolas. File Photo © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

THOUSAND OAKS, California, Sept. 12, 2015–Steffen Peters and Legolas posted a personal best score of 81.325 per cent Saturday night to capture the World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle. The personal best result was the second of the day for the rider who earlier logged the best score yet on Rosamunde in the Grand Prix.

The performance by America’s No. 1 combination and ninth ranked in the world was the highest by far in North America this year and came in the fifth of 12 World Cup qualifiers in the U.S. and Canada seeking to qualify two riders and horses for the Final in Gothenberg, Sweden at the end of March.

Günter Seidel of Cardiff, California on Zero Gravity also posted a personal best Freestyle score of 77.600 per cent for second place while Elizabeth Ball also of Cardiff and her Liaison were third on 66.540 per cent at the sold out event. This was the first CDI at the spectacular estate 40 miles (64km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Steffen described the show at Epona Farm with “perfect” footing as an “outstanding addition” to the California circuit.

The best qualifying score in the World Cup North American League before Saturday night’s competition was 73.175 per cent by Canada’s Jacqueline Brooks on D Niro. The average of the two best scores determine the two North American combinations to be invited to the Final, the annual individual world championship decided by the Freestyle.

Earlier Saturday, Steffen and Rosamunde, the eight-year-old Rhinelander gelding, logged a personal best score of 75.780 per cent to win the Grand Prix qualifier for the Special scheduled for Sunday.

Legolas is a 13-year-old Westfalen gelding owned by Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang’s Four Winds Farm that Steffen has been competing at Grand Prix for 4 1/2 years including riding for United States at the World Games in 2014 and the Pan American Games a month ago, winning both team and individual gold medals as well as a ticket for the American team to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.

The career record for the duo, ranked No. 9 in the world and the reigning U.S. Grand Prix champion combination, has been remarkable.

Steffen and Legolas have finished first in 29 of 49 CDI starts in California and Florida in the United States and throughout Europe. The pair’s previous highest Freestyle score was 80.925 per cent in California last March, followed by 80.350 per cent at Munich, Germany two months later.

The horse’s only appearance at a World Cup Final, in Las Vegas last April, was a mix of elation at finding a solution in the highly charged atmosphere to Legolas’s noise sensitivity and heartbreak over elimination from the Freestyle over blood on the side of the gelding, apparently caused by a spur when Legolas reacted to a sudden burst of loud applause. As a result, Steffen who is known around the world for light aids and softness in riding, wears the bluntest spurs available.

Steffen is only the second American to win the World Cup, which he did on Ravel at Las Vegas in 2009. The other was Debbie McDonald on Brentina.

Results:

Grand Prix Freestyle
E: Waddell – BRA H: Armando – ARG C: Gribbons – USA M: Verbeek – NED B: Weatherwax – USA
Rider Nat. Horse E . H . C . M . B . T Pl.
Peters, Steffen USA Legolas 92 80.750 81.375 81.875 80.125 82.500 81.325 1
Seidel, Guenter USA Zero Gravity 79.250 77.000 76.000 76.000 79.750 77.600 2
Ball, Elizabeth USA Liaison 72.500 72.000 70.125 70.375 73.125 71.625 3
Reilly, Michelle USA Umeeko 70.500 69.750 67.375 68.875 67.625 68.825 4
Rocovich, Terri USA Uiver (Iver) 65.875 63.500 66.750 65.875 65.625 65.525 5
Groenke, Daneila GER Sinnamon 62.125 68.375 66.000 63.875 63.375 64.750 6
Christy, Sarah USA Zamorin 64.625 63.750 61.875 62.750 64.500 63.500 7