Wednesday, Jun. 5, 2024

Peters Dominates Del Mar National CDI

Steffen Peters’ timing at the Del Mar National CDI, April 26-29 in Del Mar, Calif., couldn’t have been better.
Peters rode Marlando to win the Prix St. Georges (71.00%), Intermediaire I (73.08%) and Intermediaire I freestyle (72.50%).


Steffen Peters’ timing at the Del Mar National CDI, April 26-29 in Del Mar, Calif., couldn’t have been better.
Peters rode Marlando to win the Prix St. Georges (71.00%), Intermediaire I (73.08%) and Intermediaire I freestyle (72.50%).

“I have about 7 minutes with him where he stays somewhat controllable. Those 7 minutes worked out perfectly in the Prix St. Georges,” Peters said. “But in the Intermediaire I, our time was up on the last centerline, since in the last halt, he didn’t quite stand still. But that was the only mistake in both tests.

“I still have to deal with a lot of relaxation and tension issues,” Peters said of Marlando, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood by Balzflug. Peters works Marlando for approximately 45-60 minutes at least two hours before his scheduled competition time, and then puts him back in the stall to relax. Then he takes him out and just walks him for about 5 minutes before his ride time.

Peters hopes to qualify Marlando for the Pan American Games, and he’s looking forward to competing in June at the selection trials at the Gladstone CDI (N.J.). “The benefit would be if it was over 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity in Gladstone. Then I might have a really good chance of getting him relaxed,” Peters said with a smile.

And it looks as if Peters might have a good successor to his bronze-medal World Equestrian Games mount, Floriano. At Del Mar, Akiko Yamazaki’s Lombardi 11 stepped up to win the Grand Prix (72.00%) and Grand Prix Special (72.44%).

The 15-year-old, Holsteiner gelding, by Lucato, gave brilliant performances in each test. Peters felt that at his last competition in late March, Lombardi had a little bit of a breakthrough, where he really settled down in the ring. He felt he could really start riding the piaffe and didn’t have to be “so extremely careful and barely touch him,” Peters said.

“I think it might be too early to say, but it seems like he had a breakthrough since he had a 72 percent in the Special at Burbank and then in both tests here. With this horse, that’s probably one of my biggest achievements, since he’s been one of the most difficult. For him to go into the ring and show a good extended walk and relax 100 percent is a huge achievement.”

Peters isn’t worried that Lombardi isn’t the youngest horse out there. He said that many horses at 15 are “physically over the hill.

But since Lombardi didn’t really do much in his younger years due to his spookiness and hotness,” he feels his body has not been used up.

Reserve in the Grand Prix (68.04%) and winning the Grand Prix freestyle (70.45%) was Michael Barisone on Neruda.

To Make Sure

Jaclyn Meinen of Dana Point, Calif., just started riding Sandy Harper’s Rockette DG a month before Del Mar, but that didn’t stop her from winning the Young Rider Team test with a score of 67.92 percent.


Meinen had been showing Harper’s older horse, but they decided that the younger Rockette, a 9-year-old, Dutch Warmblood mare by Olympic Ferro, might be a better choice in her quest to qualify for the Region 7 team to compete at the North American Junior and Young Riders’ Championships (Va.). Meinen, Harper, and Meinen’s trainers, Kathleen Raine and David Wightmen, all discussed the strategy.

“It was a last minute thing. Then we went to Las Vegas [Nev.] to watch the Rolex FEI World Cup Final, so I’ve only been riding her for about two weeks,” said Meinen. “We’re just trying to become a team.

“She’s an incredible mare. She really tries. I was a bit conservative yesterday in the warm-up test. So I tried for more today. But I pushed a little too much in the first extension, so I had to back off. She’s like sitting on a rocket. She just goes.”

After entering Del Mar late, she wasn’t even sure if she could get into the Young Rider tests. “The whole thing is a huge, huge surprise. I’m so proud of that horse. I’m so thankful for Sandy giving me this oppor-
tunity,” she said.

Meinen also plans on trying out for the NAJYRC team on her own Rivaal, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood. “It’s nice to have a back-up horse, in case something happens, and just to take the pressure off of one. The whole thing is absolutely surreal—having two horses try so hard and the people supporting me. I can’t believe it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.

Emily Tears of Coto de Caza, Calif., is also trying out for the NAJYRC team on two horses. She won the Young Rider Prix St. Georges (66.91%), the Young Rider freestyle (69.50%) and took second in the Young Rider team test with a 66.59 percent.

She achieved this on Luciano, a 13-year-old, Holsteiner gelding, owned by her trainer Karen Ball. “He’s been teaching me a lot,” said Tears.

She started riding Luciano at this level in the middle of February, when she and Ball decided Tears’ own horse, the 7-year-old Lopaca, wasn’t ready for this level.

Ball generously turned over the reins of her Grand Prix competition horse since this was Tears’ last year of eligibility for the Young Rider team. “He’s really fun. He loves to show,” Tears said of Luciano. “He can be cranky in his stall, but the second he’s outside of his box and you’re on him, you can tell he’s just having a blast.”

Her freestyle has a disco theme, but was originally designed at the Grand Prix level by Luna Tunes Freestyles. It was redesigned and choreographed so Tears could use it at the Young Rider level. Tears also has the ride on an 18-year-old Connemara stallion, Cashel’s Rock Of Ages, owned by Kathleen Lucas.

Some Good Moments

Mackinzie Pooley, of Coto de Caza, Calif., topped the FEI Junior Individual test and the freestyle with scores of 65.75 percent and 68.00 percent on her own 16-year-old Oldenburg mare, Jonkara. Pooley described the mare as hot, stating that “she definitely has her moments.”


In the Individual test, the 2006 USEF National Dressage Equitation Seat Champion said she had a clean test for once. The day before, she’d had a problem getting Jonkara to go down into the arena. Her freestyle ride was also clean, with a difficult four-loop serpentine ridden from counter-canter to counter-canter with flying changes in between. Her freestyle is a medley of Madonna songs with the theme of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” Pooley’s goal is to qualify for the junior team for the NAJYRC.

Laura Decesari traveled all the way from Tucson, Ariz., to win the FEI Junior Team test and take second in the FEI Junior Individual and freestyle with scores of 65.87 percent, 65.00 percent and 65.25 percent.

Decesari rides Domino B2, a 12-year-old Westphalian owned and imported from Germany by Anna Calek, also of Tucson. Calek offered the horse to Decesari to try out for the team since her own horse “does not have the movement for this level of competition.”

Decesari used Calek’s Herb Alpert freestyle, but changed it a bit to fit her level. She’s trying to qualify for the Junior Championships at the NAJYRC.

Decesari and her fellow Region 5 juniors, Brittany Klasic and Holly Bergay, drove for more than 7 hours to Del Mar, but they felt it was a good experience for themselves and their horses. Klasic, of Gilbert, Ariz., was third in the freestyle and fourth in the Team test on her 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Wadi Draa.

Bergay, of Tucson, Ariz., was second in the Team test and fourth in the freestyle on her 17-year-old, Hanoverian cross mare, Soliloque, originally a jumper from Canada. “Soliloque doesn’t think she is 17, but more like 4,” said Bergay. “Which can be a good thing, but is sometimes bad. This weekend it was definitely one of our downfalls.”

New Footing Not Necessarily Better

The prestigious Del Mar National CDI was held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on April 26-29, but the show almost came to a halt before the CDI even started. 

Show manager Regina Antonioli, her staff, and the Del Mar grounds crew, worked late each night and early every morning trying to reschedule classes, change arenas, and maintain the new footing that had been laid on the track areas used for warm-up and competition.  Although the new synthetic footing rode well in the mornings, the afternoon temperatures and use by the horses made it almost unrideable by noon. 

The grounds crew even contacted the company who produced the footing in England, searching for answers to make the footing consistent throughout the day.  In order to ensure the CDI competitors good warm-up and competition footing, arenas were changed around so the footing would be the same older footing for both warm-up and competition arenas.  Even though many riders still pulled out of the competition, the grounds crew did seem to have a handle on the situation by the weekend.

Cynthia Collins




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