Beginning Thursday, 45 of the nation's best riders from the West Coast are scheduled to compete in the annual Dressage Affaire 2008 at the Del Mar Horsepark. The three-day event is open to the public and is a prelude to the summer Olympics in Beijing from Aug. 8 to 24. Managed by Keenan and Pecorelli Events, DressageDaily will be "On the Scene" bringing reports, photos and results from our reporter Kathy Beale and Lynndee Kemmet, brought to you by DressageDaily's Mary Phelps - Markel Equine Insurance
After this weekend, qualifying riders will advance to a competition the Festival of the Horse, in Los Angeles in two weeks followed by another competition at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in early May. The final competition to determine the Olympic team will be in San Juan Capistrano in June. Sue Blinks on Robin Hood and Mark, Leslie Morse on Tip Top and Kingston, Steffen Peters on Ravel and Prince are USEF team members competing in a large Grand Prix division for a spot of the Olympic team. Peters, 43, competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and was a team alternate in the Athens Games in 2004. He has been training three horses this year and believes at least one, Ravel, may be Olympic quality. Peters former World Equestrian Games mount, Floriano is now in the hands of Stephen Browning, son of Floriano's owners and riding in the same class. Peters has been traveling across the country, participating last weekend in the Wellington Your Riders' Clinic, in Florida.
Day Sheets For The Dressage Affaire CDI***Y/J
Peters will be riding Ravel, 10, and Prince, 11, this weekend. A third horse, Lombardi, 17, already has qualified to advance in the competition and will not appear this weekend. Ravel and Lombardi are owned by Yahoo! founders Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki.
"Jerry and Akiko talked to me and said, 'We'd like you to find a horse for us that we can possibly have in the 2008 Olympics,' " he said. "We found Ravel in the Netherlands." Ravel may be the most talented of the three, but also is the least experienced, he said. "I think Ravel is one of those horses that can do it, but it's very early on in the game," Peters said. "We still have to prove ourselves.
Peters competed in the World Games in Aachen, Germany, in 2006 and finished in fourth place. While just out of the running for a medal, he was encouraged. "We've been knocking on the door of individual medals, but at this point, Germany and Holland are usually jut a little ahead of us," he said. "But we're getting closer and closer."
The Dressage Affaire takes place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the Del Mar Horsepark, east of Interstate 5 off Via de la Valle. Grandstand seating costs $10 a day or $20 for the weekend, and free for children 16 and younger.
Box seats cost $100 for the entire weekend and include snacks, two bottles of wine and a champagne brunch on Saturday during the popular free competitions, which is set to music.
For more information, call (866) 933-SHOW or visit www.DressageEvents.com.
Previous Coverage of Dressage Affaire
California Dressage in the Spotlight 2007 - A Dressage Affaire to Remember