|Wellington, FL – Somehow it keeps getting better. After just collecting the United States Equestrian Federation’s Horse and Rider of the Year accolades for 2009, US dressage superstars Steffen Peters and Ravel ran their streak to six major wins with a convincing effort at the Grand Prix at the 2010 Exquis World Dressage Masters.
Ravel, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding (Contango-Hautain) owned by Akiko Yamazaki’s Four Winds Farm appeared even stronger and more confident than he did in 2009. He didn’t disappoint his American fans with a hugely professional performance, and a top score of 76.851%. There was a sense of ease in his work that has come with the experience of two years of international competition under his belt. Ravel rose to the occasion again with a very lovely test.
“He felt, in the last six weeks, already better than last year,” said Peters (San Diego, CA). “The ride today was one of his best ones, he was supple and a little bit more energetic than Aachen. It was a wonderful start to the season.”
Ravel was as relaxed as any horse at the competition in the atmosphere at America’s only CDI5* and his changes and lateral work were spot on as he picked up the majority of the $13,800 USD purse.
The rivalry between Peters and The Netherland’s Anky van Grunsven has gained serious momentum in the 12 months: they split this competition last year, with Peters winning the Grand Prix and van Grunsven winning the Freestyle. Peters then swept the 2009 FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas and remained invincible at CDIO Aachen, turning the tides on a dressage world what had been Eurocentric for so long. They went head to head and back to back on Thursday in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, and Peters prevailed again.
van Grunsven’s mark of 74.596% meant that she settled for second on the 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Salinero. The reigning Olympic Gold medal had a couple of bobbles which marred an otherwise classy performance by the very seasoned duo.
“The first two days we were here, he was hot and tense,” said van Grunsven about coming over from a very frigid European continent. “The last two days he has settled down. I am very pleased. There were little things I could have done better – tiny things, not big things, I am very pleased with Salinero.”
Isabell Werth, recently a new mother to baby Frederik, was third with her superstar Satchmo on a score of 72.553% for Germany. Another stalwart of the sport, Werth harnessed the enthusiasm of her veteran Hanoverian gelding and coaxed him to a confident effort – Satchmo is a horse visibly very aware of what is going on around him.
“I have done so many competitions, but in the last eight months I have done no competitions,” said Werth about knocking off the competitive rust after becoming a mother. “It’s not new again but I missed the fine tuning – I have to work to get the little mistakes and details away. He was quite concentrated, but the three mistakes were expensive, especially when you have to compete against Steffen and Anky. But in the end I was really happy with Satchmo.”
Peters is looking forward to Saturday’s freestyle, but will base his strategy on how his horse feels on the occasion as he has reworked his freestyle to have a couple of different options.
“You want to increase the degree of difficulty, but having a clean test and a confident horse is the priority,” said Peters. “There is so much to lose at this point – but I pretty much know going down the center line what I have… I’m a big believer in preserving things.”
The competition continues on top eight riders contesting the Grand Prix Freestyle under the lights in the International Arena at 7pm on Saturday evening. The second half of the group will contest the Grand Prix Special beginning at 3pm. For more information, results and ticket information, please visit: www.palmbeachdressagemasters.com.