USA Team Named for World Equestrian Games at Home, Four Olympic Riders, Two Olympic Medal Horses, No Surprises

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Laura Graves and Verdades. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

July 26, 2018

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The United States team for the World Equestrian Games at home was announced Thursday by the U.S. Equestrian Federation, with four Olympic riders and two Olympic medal horses selected for Tryon.

The Dutta Corp. team to compete in the world championships beginning with the Grand Prix in less than seven weeks on Sept. 12 is:

Laura Graves, 31, of Geneva, Florida and Verdades, 16-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Laura and Curt Maes;

Adrienne Lyle, 33, of Ketchum, Idaho and Salvino, 11-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Betsy Juliano, LLC;

Kasey Perry-Glass, 30, of Wellington, Florida and Dublet, 15-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, owned by Diane Perry, and

Steffen Peters, 53, of San Diego, California, and Rosamunde, 11-year-old Rhinelander mare owned by Four Winds Farm.

The reserve combination is:

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz, 34, Haymarket, Virginia, and Lonoir, 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, owned by Olivia and Mary Anne McPhail.

Suppenkasper, 10-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Four Winds Farm, was named as an alternate for Steffen Peters.

The team for the world championships held only once every four years was selected after a long list of the top horses and riders went to Europe to compete in at least one of three observation events–Rotterdam CDIO5* Nations Cup/CDI3*; Leudelange, Luxembourg CDI4* and the World Equestrian Festival CDIO5* Nations Cup/CDI4 in Aachen, Germany.

Three of the four team combinations are coached by Debbie McDonald, one of the most successful ever American competitors on Brentina, including team silver at the 2002 World Equestrian Games, and the first American to capture the World Cup who will become the nation’s high performance coach when Robert Dover retires after this WEG.

All four team pairs are on the USEF Elite list of the top performing American combinations.

Laura Graves and Verdades began their partnership when her family bought the KWPN gelding as a foal based on a video from the Netherlands. The pair competed through U.S. national levels beginning in 2010. By 2014, Laura and “Diddy,” as she calls Verdades, were at Big Tour. As unlikely as it seemed at the time, the pair achieved their goal of reaching the national championships–then rode to reserve to champion Steffen Peter on Legolas.

The horse world outside the United States witnessed things to come at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, where the partnership placed fifth and the top American combination in the Freestyle. Team gold and individual silver at the Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015 followed.

The pair went on to earn team bronze at the 2016 Olympics, finishing fourth overall and the highest placed American.

In three World Cup Finals, the duo was reserve champion in 2017 at Omaha and 2018 in Paris. In the same period, Laura and Verdades became the only combination to beat world No. 1 Isabell Werth on Weihegold OLD since the 2016 Rio Games, which they did twice, in the Grand Prix Special in the Aachen Nations Cup in 2017 and the Grand Prix at the Paris World Cup Final in 2018. They also beat Isabell on Emilio in the Grand Prix in this year’s Aachen Nations Cup.

Laura and Verdades, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, are only one of two American pairs–Steffen Peters and Ravel is the other–to have achieved 80 per cent at Grand Prix and thus become one of only 15 members of the dressage-news.com “80% Club.”

Adrienne Lyle and Salvino. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Adrienne Lyle will be riding Salvino in her second World Equestrian Games, having competed Wizard on the U.S. team in 2014, two years after showing at the Olympics in London.

Salvino was bought from Spain in 2015 by a syndicate of Americans set up to acquire a future team prospect for Adrienne, who has spent more than a decade working for and with Debbie McDonald to become one of the world’s top riders. On Salvino she is ranked No. 20 in the world and 96th on Horizon, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare also competing at international Grand Prix. Salvino was bought by Betsy Juliano earlier this year. She already owned Horizon.

Salvino has not yet been ridden by Adrienne in a championship since beginning Big Tour 16 months ago, but the pair, ranked 20th in the world, has been on four Nations Cup teams including gold at Wellington this year and silver at Aachen in 2017 and 2018.

Kasey Perry-Glass and Dublet. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Kasey Perry-Glass and Dublet began their Grand Prix career in 2016 and quickly emerged as one of America’s top combinations, leading her team to gold at the Compiègne, France Nations Cup then less than three months later earning team bronze at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The pair took a break from competition a year later but returned this spring better than ever, capturing the WEG test event in Tryon in April.

Their performances at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, the world’s premier horse show, was top notch and consistent–fifth in the Nations Cup Grand Prix, third in the Grand Prix Special and a breakout runner-up to champion Isabell Werth and Emilio in the Grand Prix Freestyle.

The world ranking for the pair, No. 31 now, will be boosted by the time of the WEG.

Steffen Peters and Rosamunde. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Steffen Peters, German-born but who has embraced the California lifestyle, rode Rosamunde in the mare’s first American team this year, in Nations Cups at Rotterdam and Aachen, Germany.

Steffen has been the most successful American rider for the past quarter century–four Olympics for team bronze in 1996 and 2016; three World Equestrian Games on three different horses for team bronze in 2006 and two individual bronzes in 2010, and five World Cup Finals including the 2009 title, only the second time it was won by an American.

He has also captured eight national titles on five different horses.

Most of the horses have been owned by Four Winds Farm of Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang, including Ravel on which Steffen won the 2009 World Cup and became the first American pair to enter the “80% Club.” Other horses have included Legolas that Steffen rode at the 2014 world championships and on the 2016 Olympic bronze medal team. He won team bronze on Udon in his first Olympics, at Atlanta in 1996. Four Winds owns both Rosamunde, on which he is ranked 26th in the world, and Suppenkasper that was bought in 2017 as a prospect for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Dressage competition at the Tryon International Equestrian Center is:

Sept. 12/13–Grand Prix–team competition and individual qualifier;

Sept. 14–Grand Prix Special–Individual competition, and

Sept. 16–Grand Prix Freestyle–individual final.

The United States’ record in the championships: 1990 inaugural WEG in Stockholm, no medals; 1994 Den Haag, Netherlands team bronze (Kathleen Raine/Avontuur, Robert Dover/Devereaux, Gary Rockwell/Suna, Carol Lavell/Gifted); 1998 Rome, no medals; 2002 Jerez, Spain team silver (Debbie McDonald/Brentina, Lisa Wilcox/Relevant, Sue Blinks/Flim Flam, Günter Seidel/Nikolaus 7); 2006 Aachen, Germany team bronze (Leslie Morse/Tip Top 962, Günter Seidel/Aragon, Steffen Peters/Floriano, Debbie McDonald/Brentina); 2010 Lexington, Kentucky two individual bronze (Steffen Peters/Ravel); 2014 Normandy, France no medals.