Peters Perfect in USEF Selection Trials for Dressage with Ravel; Gibson Sweeps USEF National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship on Final Day of Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions
RELEASE: June 29, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Joanie Morris
Peters and Ravel (Amy McCool)
San Juan Capistrano, CA – Steffen Peters and Ravel were crowned Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Grand Prix Dressage Champions and won the USEF Selection Trials for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team in dressage with a spectacular performance in today’s grand prix freestyle. The pair finished with a remarkable score of 79.500%.
Peters, Debbie McDonald and Courtney King-Dye finished in the top three places to represent the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong.
“We had to go for it a little bit more today,” said Peters. “You have to know what’s in there, know what’s in the freestyle and when you start next time in Hong Kong you can carry that feeling over.”
Starting to music by the Rolling Stones, Ravel rolled through his test in front of packed house, his score in the Freestyle brought his four-day average to an impressive 75.863%.
“I’ve never heard people scream louder than today,” said Peters after his test.
The San Diego rider and veteran Olympian withstood a serious challenge from Debbie McDonald and Brentina but prevailed to run the board and remain undefeated in 2008. Aikiko Yamazaki’s 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding has made very few mistakes over the last two weekend and looks poised to continue to improve on his way to Hong Kong for the 2008 Olympic Games.
“I’m so excited how well Ravel takes that pressure,” said Peters. “I think that we can even turn it up a little bit in Hong Kong.”
Debbie McDonald’s emotional performance with Brentina, ending with Aretha Franklin’s Respect, had more than half the packed house in tears. The gallant 17-year-old Hanoverian mare is making her final attempt for a spot on a team in 2008. The World Equestrian Games and Olympic medalist, has a sparkling resume which also includes a World Cup title.
“Considering that may be my last freestyle with her, I really honestly could not have asked for more,” said McDonald. “She was really ready, I really always judge those first circles of twos, if she stays on my aids for that I know she’s going to be pretty much with me for the rest of the ride.”
Her brilliant performance today ensured that, although this will be one of her final performances, she will be going out on top.
“If we can pull it off at the Olympics that would be the only thing better than this,” said McDonald.
Owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas of River Grove Farm in Hailey, ID, Brentina didn’t disappoint her legions of fans with a score of 78.750%, this gave her a two-day total of 73.697% good enough for second place overall.
“Some times I just can’t contain myself,” said McDonald about getting the fans involved at the end of her test. For me the fun part about the freestyle is to get the audience involved. I’ve got a horse that loves it so why not?”
Courtney King-Dye and Harmony’s Mythilus finished just behind McDonald and Brentina on a 78.050% with a brave performance in a freestyle test that was relatively new to them.
The 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Harmony Amateur Sports Foundation improved throughout the Championship, saving his best performances for the final two days. The finished with an overall score of 73.333%.
“This is the culmination of 21 years of work,” said King-Dye about the chance for a trip to her first Olympic Games. “You can work as hard as you possibly can and be a great rider and never have this chance. I have to thank all the stars working in my favor and all the people who have helped me along the way. I’m thrilled to be on a team with Debbie and Steffen. I’ve admired them for years and years.”
In a freestyle featuring her favorite Cat Stevens song, Sad Lisa, Mythilus made no mistakes and rewarded King-Dye for all of her faith in him.
Gibson Sweeps Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship
Michelle Gibson’s lock on the USEF National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship never looked in danger today once she set foot in the arena to perform her freestyle with Don Angelo. The 2007 USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Champion for 7-9 year olds demonstrated unbelievable maturity throughout the weekend, earning a score of 76.400% in his final effort, giving them a three-day score 72.898%.
“I’m so excited,” said Gibson after her ride. “The second pirouette got a hair big on me but I could not have asked for more. He helped me out everywhere. He totally stepped up to the plate, I’m very excited.”
Owned by Terri Kane, the now 8-year-old Oldenburg stallion matched his music perfectly and made no mistakes throughout his impressive performance. Gibson isn’t sure what the next step for Don Angelo is, but the Team Bronze medalist from 1996 has high hopes for her newest star. She designed her freestyle to suit the horse and his current level of training.
“He’s eight,” explained Gibson. “I’m sure that there were more difficult Freestyles in there. It was more important to show off all of his best qualities. We put together a freestyle that shows him off to the best of his abilities. The canter is the most impressive part about him. The last trot extension felt really quite good too.”
Gibson is happy with how the weekend progressed for Don Angelo, she was particularly pleased with how he reacted to the crowd.
“I’m really proud of him because he stepped up to the plate,” said Gibson. “The first day maybe he was a little bit tired. The second day he pepped up a little bit.”
Peters got the day off to an excellent start, moving up from third to second in the Intermediaire I Championship on the strength of an excellent freestyle on Mary Keenan’s Montango. The pair score 72.900% to finish the three days with 70.960% total.
“It started out real good,” said Peters. “I was right on the music in the trot work, toward the end I got just a tiny bit ahead. Usually I end the test with two-tempis on the centerline but since I was ahead I did the diagonal and a serpentine and I was really pleased because it made it a little bit more difficult.”
The excitable 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding seemed to really settle in the ring over the past two days.
“At the end of the day when you have a hot nervous horse it is the exposure to those environments (that make the difference),” said Peters. “I could actually ride him yesterday and today and I didn’t have to hold him back so much.”
Peters doesn’t think that Montango, despite having plenty of ability, is quite ready to move up to Grand Prix.
“He does a real nice piaffe and his one tempis are confirmed but the Grand Prix work gets him a little keyed up,” said Peters. “I take my time with my horses and I will let him tell us when he’s ready but I hope to do Intermediaire II next year.”
Shawna Harding rode come On III to fifth place in the freestyle with a score of 70.200% but it was good enough for third place overall with 70.545%. Harding rode to classic rock, featuring Fergie, AC/DC, The Scorpions, Queen, ZZ top and Joe Cocker. Always a favorite with the crowd, Harding was disappointed to have a couple of mistakes in her test.
“Today he wasn’t on his game,” said Harding. “He wasn’t quite with me. He cantered in the first trot half pass but I’m sitting between two Olympic riders. There are just some little things creeping in that I can’t take for granted. He got here on Monday and had a little bit of a crunch getting over the flight. He really tried from his heart but he just was a little tired.”
The 9-year-old Danish Warmblood was runner-up behind Don Angelo in the 2007 USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship for 7-9 year olds, demonstrating the depth of the developing U.S. dressage program.