Steffen Peters and Floriano Finish in Sixth in Musical Freestyle
By Jeannie Blancq Putney and Brian Sosby
Crowds were spilling out of the 2006 World Equestrian Games on Saturday, with record crowds jamming not only the dressage freestyle, but the cross-country course, as well as the show grounds. Across the day, more than 44,000 fans of eventing were on-hand; 40,000 tickets were sold to witness the dressage musical freestyle with ‘standing room only’ spectators jammed in ten deep. Over 8,000 vaulting fans put up their money to watch the world’s best vaulters jump, flip and fly. It was truly a day when equestrian sports fans showed up to cheer, celebrate and shop to their hearts’ desire.
But the big news of the day was the result in the dressage musical freestyle where the top 15 international dressage stars thrilled the crowds, regardless of the chill in the air and the ever lingering threat of rain.
Anky Van Grunsven and her mount, Salinero, won the Gold with an astonishing score of 86.100%. The crowd erupted into thunderous applause as it stood to salute her efforts. Van Grunsven won the 2006 Dressage World Cup earlier in the year in Amsterdam aboard Salinero, posting a score of 87.750%
Andreas Helgstrand of Denmark took home the Silver medal aboard his impressive young mare Blue Hors Matine, a clear crowd favorite, ending their week of dressage on a score of 81.500%. Host country, Germany, took home the Bronze medal thanks to the score of 80.750% put in by Isabell Werth and Satchmo, yesterday’s champion in the Grand Prix Special.
Two Americans, Guenter Seidel and Aragon, and Steffen Peters and Floriano represented the Team USA. Peters finished fourth yesterday in the grand prix special with a 75.200%, just out of the medals. They finished sixth tonight in the musical freestyle on a score of 78.600%.
Peters and Floriano, the 16-year-old Westphalian gelding, owned by Stephen and Laurelyn Browning, were the last to compete in the night in front of a sold out crowd and performed to a medley including “Don’t Stop Believing” by Fleetwood Mac and “Imagine” by John Lennon.
“Tonight, I had to ride a little bit more carefully,” Peters said. “Floriano was on the edge the whole time coming in there, so I took it a little bit easy in the trot extensions. Then, in the canter pirouettes I couldn’t quite ride them as much as I’d like to. I had to be very diplomatic and a little bit careful, but he still did a wonderful job. I am very, very happy with a 78. That’s still one of his best freestyle scores, and as I said yesterday, what he did for the team and what he did for the special last night, that was his job. We came in tonight, tried our very best and had a lot of fun.”
Seidel and the 14-year-old Bavarian Warmblood gelding, Aragon, owned by Richard and Jane Brown, put down a 72.500% and finished their week at the WEG in 13th place.
“When we were going in, I thought he was going to explode,” said Seidel of his mount. “When we were coming in, I thought, “Oh, we are going to be in trouble.” Aragon was on edge the whole time according to the rider. “It was very electric. There were a few mistakes. But, when do you get a chance to practice in an atmosphere like this?”
He couldn’t have been happier with his mount’s performance, however. “A lot of people who haven’t seen him in a while, say that he looks like a different horse,” he said. “Klaus [Balkenhol, dressage team chef d’equipe] and I have been working very hard on him.”
In the end, Seidel said he was thrilled with his week in Aachen, and looks forward to the next World Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada.