Lexington, KY - With six USEF National Dressage Championships and selection for U.S. Dressage Team for the 2011 Pan American Games on the line, the 2011 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions is the place to be September 8-11, 2011. The USET Foundation Headquarters plays host to the prestigious event in Gladstone, NJ which is headlined by the Grand Prix National Dressage Championships and the Intermediaire I National Dressage Championship (which also serves as the USEF Selection Trial for the U.S. Dressage Team for the 2011 Pan American Games).
Returning to vie for the title in the Grand Prix is Ravel. The most decorated American dressage horse in history makes his first trip to compete at Gladstone for owners Akiko Yamazaki and Four Winds Farms. With Steffen Peters, the 13-year-old Dutch gelding was the 2008 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Grand Prix Champion (contested in California), the 2009 Farnam/Platform USEF Horse of the Year, he won the FEI World Cup Dressage Final in 2009 and swept the CHIO Aachen that same year, he was also double Individual Bronze medalist at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Peters (San Diego, CA) will be looking to add another National Championship title to the horse's resume - and 2011 marks a first for Ravel as well as a return for Peters. Peters hasn't competed at Gladstone since he won the 2007 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Grand Prix National Championships with Lombardi.
"It's been a few years for me since I competed in Gladstone," said Peters. "That's where it all started and I am definitely excited to compete there again."
But the 2010 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Champions will also be there to defend her title and guarantee a competition of the highest standard. Tina Konyot (Palm City, FL) and Calecto V were teammates with Peters and Ravel on the U.S. Dressage Team in 2010 and have competed lightly this summer while Konyot recovered from an injury to her knee. The 13-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion returns to Gladstone.
Peters and Konyot are ranked first and second on the Grand Prix Ranking List, the remaining horse/riders combinations are:
Shawna Harding/ Come On III
Lauren Sammis/Sagacious HF
Arlene (Tuny) Page/Alina
Susan Dutta/Currency DC
Melissa Taylor/Schumacker Solyst
Catherine Morelli/Be Se
Susie Dutta and Manette DC
The Intermediaire I National Dressage Championship will be hugely competitive as Pan American Games selection is also at stake. Proving the depth of Peters' stable, he also has the top ranked horse in this division in the country.
Weltino's Magic was originally ridden by his Peters' wife, Shannon, who rides Odyssey in the Grand Prix National Championships in 2011, but Steffen took over the ride as the horse got too strong. All but one of the 15 horses in the country are coming to Gladstone to take him on and vie for a chance to represent their country. This includes Paragon, who has been dominating the East Coast circuit for Heather Blitz (Wellington, FL). Paragon stands nearly 18 hands and is an 8-year-old Danish Warmblood. Weltino's Magic won two classes on the Small Tour at CHIO Aachen this summer and makes his first trip to Aachen for his owner Jen Hlavacek.
"I'm very excited about Magic," said Peters about the 9-year-old Westphalian. "The trip to Europe was quite successful with the two wins in Aachen, it is going to be very exciting to see Paragon - I saw him in Florida and was impressed. I think it will be a very tight race if both horses put in technically clean tests."
There is plenty of competition in the division, including the 2010 USEF Collecting Gaits Farm/ USEF Intermediaire I National Champion Cesar Parra. He will be looking to defend his title, this time aboard Grandioso. Parra is local, riding out of Whitehouse Station, NJ for owners Susan and Michael Davis.
Peters, Blitz and Parra are ranked in the top three places in the Final Ranking List, but Lisa Wilcox comes in on a winning streak with Pikko Del Cerro HU.
They will try to add a second National title to their record in 2011, last week they won the USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship sponsored by The Dutta Corp. and Performance Sales International at Lamplight Equestrian Center. Pikko Del Cerro HU also won the 2009 6-year-old Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championship.
The additional horse/rider combinations vying for the Intermediaire I Championship are:
Marisa Festerling/Big Tyme
Jan Ebeling/Rosenzauber 8
Lisa Wilcox/Pikko Del Cerro HU
David Blake/Lord Albert
Tom Noone/Fred Astair
Chris Hickey/Witness Hilltop
The remaining four national championships will showcase the best Young Adults (in the Brentina Cup), Young Riders, Juniors and Pony Riders in the country.
The complete list of entries for those championships is available here: