Steffen Peters and Ravel
Wellington, FL - Before a sold-out crowd, the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center continued to play host to World Dressage Masters Palm Beach CDI5* presented by the International Polo Club. After Thursday's Grand Prix and Friday afternoon's Grand Prix Special, eight of the top riders from across the United States and Europe rode their freestyles on a cool Florida evening.
And, by the luck of the draw - the best was saved for last.
Steffen Peters and Ravel dominated the Grand Prix on Thursday with a record score and continued to make their trip from San Diego worth the miles by putting in another phenomenal effort. They were the final combination in the ring.
The performance, which scored 84.525%, brought down the house.
"Ravel was very, very excited," said Peters. "He reacted a little but even though he was excited he's such a good guy he made it happen for me."
The double Individual Bronze medalists from the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games returned East and proved that Akiko Yamazaki's 13-year-old KWPN gelding continues to improve.
He was fourth individually at the 2008 Olympic Games when he was only 10 years old and followed that up with an FEI World Cup Final victory and a sweep at Aachen in July of 2009.
"It's an amazing honor and pleasure to ride such an amazing horse," said Peters as he stood on the podium to accept his awards and address the crowd.
As he has matured the level of difficulty of Ravel's work has also risen comparably, but the ease with which he does it has remain unchanged. An extremely difficult transition from pirouette to piaffe to walk was done seamlessly and the lateral work, as always, was exceptional.
"I felt like the piaffe pirouettes were more in place, and the passage half pass felt better than before," said Peters.
Although music by Coldplay and the Rolling Stones has become a trademark of this popular combination, Peters said this is the last time he will use the music. This victory was vindication for the pair who have twice won the Grand Prix at the Masters but followed those wins up with runner-up finishes in the Freestyle.
Five-time Olympian for the Swedish Dressage team, Tinne Vilhelmson Silven, used all her experience to convince Favourit to put in a far more relaxed test than yesterday. The 12-year-old Rheinlander gelding owned by Antonia Ax:son Johnson and Goran Ennerfelt cooperated and they scored 77.975% for their efforts. Quality canter work highlighted the second placed test performed to music by the Eurhythmics. The pair improved on their third place performance from the Grand Prix and switched places with American Tina Konyot, a trade they have been making back and forth all spring.
"It was really fun riding in there today," said Vilhelmson Silven. "The atmosphere was great. I was pleased with my ride overall."
Konyot (Palm City, FL) rode very determinedly on Calecto V, and the 13-year-old Danish stallion delivered. Her music is renowned now, and matches her and Calecto's performance distinctly and the song 'Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree' suits the combination and engages the crowd. Their freestyle is filled with difficult piaffe and passage and Calecto, who is owned by Konyot and John Byrialsen, thrives in the challenges. The reigning Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Grand Prix Dressage Champions scored 76.775% for their crowd pleasing effort to land them in third place in the Freestyle after a second place finish in the Grand Prix.
"I don't mind trading places with my friend Tinne," said Konyot. "I'm very happy with Calecto. I believe that is my highest freestyle score. I had a great ride... he was there for me."
The Ground Jury had quality dressage to judge and Wim Ernes spoke for the panel:
"It was an exciting evening for us as judges," said Ernes. "The three top rides were very good with nice music which fit all the horses very well."
Thank you to those who tuned in to USEF Network to watch the competition. Due to connectivity issues at the venue, the live stream provided by Sport Tech Productions had some difficulty. USEF Network will add video-on-demand files as they become available. Please check back: http://www.usefnetwork.com/wdm2011/ where complete results, blogs and photos are available.