BURBANK, CA - A curious crowd gathered to watch Steffen Peters and his potential new superstar "Legolas" passage to victory for the second day in a row at the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair CDI-W/Y/J in Burbank, CA, the first Olympic Games qualifying competition of the year on the West Coast. In the shortened Olympic Grand Prix Special Test, Peters and Four Winds Farm's ten-year-old Westfalen gelding (Laomedon x Furstin) put in a solid performance to dominate the class with a score of 74.289%. The Ground Jury members agreed that Legolas showed great promise. "He is still a little insecure in a couple of the movements, but the overall presentation is wonderful," noted Jayne Ayers (4* USA). "He is only going to get better and better." Placing second with 67.778% was Kathleen Raine and "Breanna" (12-year-old Hanoverian mare by Brentano II), followed by Kim McGrath riding Arianthi Ferronato's 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding "Winslow" (by Obelisk) to a score of 65.933%.
In the World Cup-qualifying Grand Prix Freestyle, Jan Ebeling and "Rafalca" showed why they are ready for a possible return trip to the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Finals. Ebeling showed off the 14-year-old bay Oldenburg (Argentinius x Ratine) mare's best movements in a technically demanding routine, earning high praise and 73.600% from the judges. "There were very difficult components but done exceptionally well," said Jean-Michele Roudier (5* FRA). "We especially liked the piaffe fan at the end, and the test flowed so nicely to well-chosen music which suits the horse."
David Blake rode the impressive 11-year-old Oldenburg stallion "Royal Prinz" (Royal Diamond x Mystica, owned by Willard and Teresa Simmons) to victory with 69.132% in the Intermediaire I Test. "This was clearly the steadiest ride in this class - and today the rider had a lovely, soft feel on this very elegant horse," explained Linda Zang (5* USA). Guenter Seidel rode Lara Schleining's "Feodora" (12-year-old bay mare) to second with a score of 67.868%, while Nichole Smith earned third (65.184%) with "Ebikur" (11-year-old Oldenburg gelding [Epikur x Rollette] owned by Patricia Gillian).
In the CDI Young Rider division, placings mirrored the previous day's contest as Brandi Roenick and her own 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare "Pretty Lady" (Iglesias x Ivonne) continued their winning ways with a score of 68.640% to top the field in the Individual Test. Following in second was Mackinzie Pooley earning 67.412% with Deena Smith's "Brigadier" (12-year-old Oldenburg gelding [Batido x Lady Deco]) and Amelia Child riding "Veto" to third with 67.149% (10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding [Monte Cristo x Urka], owned by Stahl Child Dressage).
The Final Day -
On the final day of the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair CDI-W/Y/J, competitors vied for top honors in the Intermediaire Freestyle. Young Rider Brandi Roenick topped senior competitors to claim the win with "Nobel", a 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Rohdiamant x Hestella) owned by Tracy Roenick of Scottsdale, AZ. Her score of 70.417% from judges Linda Zang (5* USA), Jean-Michele Roudier (5* FRA), and Eddy de Wolff (4* NED) earned the champion's sash over Jan Ebeling, who placed second with 68.333% on Deborah Harlan's "Rosenzauber 8" (11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare [Rotspon x Shining Sun]).
"My goal for Nobel this weekend was just to get him back in the ring, so I was pleasantly surprised with the result! He can be a challenging horse," explained Roenick. "I think it's such good experience for a young rider to get into the open CDI classes to get a feel for what it's like against the professionals." Finishing in third was Kim Elsner riding 13-year-old Trakehner gelding "Luminence" (Leonidas x Willa, owned by Hilda Gurney) on a score of 65.583%.
Brandi Roenick also completed a sweep of the CDI Young Rider division with her own longtime partner, the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare "Pretty Lady" (Iglesias x Ivonne), by winning the freestyle with a score of 71.500%. "Since the National Championships last fall, we've come together as a team even more," noted Roenick. "We clicked so well this weekend and she tried her heart out for me like she always does."