Lexington, Ky.—Oct. 11
When Steffen Peters exited the Rolex Stadium after his Grand Prix Special, he knew he’d possibly left the door open by going off course. He had to wait through Kathleen Raine and Guenter Seidel’s tests to see if either would walk through the opening.
But in the end, Peters and Legolas 92’s score of 74.77 percent still earned them first in the Special and allowed them to retain their first-placed standing in the Dutta Corp/USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship at the USEF Festival Of Champions. Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea slotted into second (71.91%), while Raine and Breanna picked up third (70.77%).
“The horse was great. The rider was not tonight,” said Peters, San Diego, Calif. “I was at the [Blue Hors FEI] European Dressage Championships, and I saw three riders making that mistake, and I thought for sure that could never happen to me. Even today, I looked at the ring and went over the test at least 10 times, and it still happened. I don't know why, but I seriously doubt it'll happen again.”
Instead of starting his canter half-pass in the test, Peters began doing two tempis.
“I was really, really happy with the way Legolas felt,” he said of the 11-year-old Westphalian gelding (Laomedon—Fürstin, Florestan II) owned by Akiko Yamazaki’s Four Winds Farm. “In my mind, I was set to ride some perfect twos. Then the judge did not want them then.
“I haven’t been doing this very long,” he joked. “You need to be forgiving. I’m just young and inexperienced.”
Seidel, in from California as well, also had a tempi change issue; he did 17 ones instead of the requested 15.
“I rode maybe a little more conservative test today,” said Seidel. “I tried to go nice and smooth without any big mistakes, and I think it worked out quite well. Besides the changes, the rest was kind of solid. That was just a fumble.”
“What you consider a fumble, for me it was an interception,” added Peters. "First thing I said when Guenter came out the ring was that I thought his score was a bit low. I saw him higher."
Raine, yet another West Coast rider, was also enjoying a lovely Special until Breanna resisted while cantering past A, rearing for several seconds.
“That caught me off guard,” she said. “But otherwise I was really happy with her.”
Tomorrow riders will contest the Grand Prix freestyle, worth 15 percent of the overall total score. The Grand Prix was worth 45 percent and the Special 40. If Peters wins tomorrow it will be his third consecutive national title. He won in 2012 with Legolas and in 2011 with the now-retired Ravel.
Despite not having a good schooling ride yesterday, Emily Wagner rebounded today to win the USEF Young Adult “Brentina Cup” Dressage National Championships with Weltdorff. They won both tests to finish on an overall score of 65.57 percent over Genay Vaughn on Donarweiss GGF (64.64%).
“This just means so, so much to me,” said Wagner, 25, who brought “Willy” along from the time he was 3. “There have been so many times I was like, ‘I don’t understand, and he doesn’t understand. What are we going to do?’ He didn’t have the best day of his life yesterday—he was a little stiff and strong, and I can’t say it was all his fault because I was tired—but I brought him back out today, and he was much better from the first step of our warm-up.”
Wagner, La Cygne, Kan., is also riding her stallion WakeUp in the Dutta Corp/USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship. The pair is fourth after the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I. WakeUp was also the USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges champion this summer.
“He’s holding his own,” said Wagner. “I’m thrilled to be here with him after coming out of the developing horse stuff. I came in thinking, ‘If I end up with my horses in the top five, I’ll be thrilled. WakeUp’s such a fantastic horse, but it’s Willy I get to make my mistakes with, and he’s helping WakeUp. I hope WakeUp appreciates him!”
Ayden Uhlir, who won individual and freestyle young rider gold at this year’s North American Junior And Young Rider Championships (Ky.), added another title to her name by winning the AGCO/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship with Sjapoer. Uhlir, 18, won both the FEI Young Rider Team test (68.23%) and the FEI Young Rider Individual test (68.18%) for a combined winning score of 68.21 percent. Rachel Chowanec was second overall aboard Lendon Gray’s Embrujado XI (66.35%).
“He was a little bit quieter, and he wasn’t so awake today as he was yesterday,” said Uhlir, who rides with Jeremy Steinberg. “We had that one mistake in our halt to reinback. It just sort of stuck. We recovered the rest of the ride, and I felt like it was a pretty consistent and good ride. Our canter was a lot better than the trot, and I felt like our tempis were very straight and jumping and on count.”
Full Festival Of Champions results online.