March 11, West Palm Beach, Fla.
For the last three years Steffen Peters has been chasing a World Dressage Masters win with Ravel. Twice, he came heartbreakingly close, but tonight he decisively took home victory on a score 84.55 percent over Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven on Favourit (77.97%) and Tina Konyot with Calecto V (76.77%).
In 2009 Peters, San Diego, Calif., came third behind the Netherlands’ dressage superstar Anky van Grunsven aboard Painted Black and her teammate Hans Peter Minderhoud on Exquis Escapado in the freestyle. In 2010, he placed second to van Grunsven on Salinero. Both years he won the initial Grand Prix test.
“Maybe there is some truth to three’s a charm,” said Peters. “The first two were pretty close…Well, the very first one wasn’t so close. I didn’t ride very well in that freestyle. Last year was very close between Salinero and Ravel. I’m very happy that it actually happened tonight.”
Ravel made a few uncharacteristic mistakes in his test, which Peters attributed to over excitement.
“We could see that in the first transition from the passage to the canter—he overreacted a little bit, and he did the same on the centerline for the one-tempis—he got a little bit croup high,” said Peters. “But he’s still such a good guy that even though he was excited, he still made it happen for me. A lot of things felt better than before. The piaffe pirouettes were a little bit more in place. The passage half-passes felt better than before. I think it all evened out.”
And Peters couldn’t let the evening end without a shout-out to Akiko Yamazaki, owner of the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contango—Hautain, Democraat), who also played a large part in bringing the WDM back to Florida after it was initially cancelled due to lack of European entries.
“Many thanks to Akiko who allows me to ride such an amazing horse. I’m still living the dream,” he said.
According to Peters, this is the last time he’ll ride to his famous rock ‘n roll music that pairs Coldplay with The Rolling Stones and Men Without Hats.
“I had to make a deal with Anne Gribbons, because she’s been on my case to change the music,” joked Peters. “From here on we’ll use the same choreography—we get good marks, it’s difficult enough and fair to the horse. But the music is getting a bit old, and it’s time to change.”
Vilhelmson-Silfven and Konyot traded places from their Grand Prix finish. “I really had fun riding in there today. The atmosphere was great,” said Vilhelmson-Silfven. “It was a super place to compete; you just had to ride well in there. Favourit was coping with it very well. I was pleased with the ride overall.”
“I don’t mind trading places with my friend Tinne,” said Konyot. “It was a fantastic evening. I was very happy with Calecto. I believe that was my highest freestyle score so far. We’re gradually trying to creep up the ladder. I’m going to catch my friend [Peters], but I’ve got a long way to go. I’m going to keep trying.”
Konyot did say there was a particular bit of her choreography, some of the piaffe and passage in the beginning, that wasn’t quite working out, so she was going to omit that part in her next freestyle with the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion (Come Back II—Bahera, Rastell).
“It was an exciting evening for us as judges with very good rides, especially at the end,” said Wim Ernes, the Dutch judge who served as president of the ground jury. “The three top rides were very good with a high degree of difficulty; the combination of movements were really difficult for the horses. They had nice music, which fitted all the horses very well. It was a great evening for us and a great show.”
He did, however, comment on the one rider who was eliminated early in the evening. Anja Ploenzke of Germany was rung out of the ring when the judges noticed blood on the left side of Le Mont d’Or’s mouth.
“We all know [Ploenzke] is a very nice rider and very good to her horses, but it was a pity because her horse had some blood in the mouth, so we had to decide to eliminate her,” said Ernes.
1. Ravel, Steffen Peters, USA, 84.55%
2. Favourit, Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfven, Sweden, 77.97%
3. Calecto V, Tina Konyot, USA, 76.77%
4. Pop Art, Ashley Holzer, Canada, 74.55%
5. Exquis Clearwater, Anne Van Olst, Denmark, 73.15%
6. Ovation, Christa Laarakkers, the Netherlands, 72.60%
7. Otto, Todd Fletrich, USA, 70.22%
Eliminated: Le Mont d'Or, Anja Ploenzke, Germany