The best and brightest dressage stars will battle it out in Burbank, California this weekend, in a show-down that will determine who will ride at the 2005 FEI World Cup Dressage Final Presented by Offield Farms, in Las Vegas, April 20-24. Tickets to the World Cup won’t come easily though, with a red-hot roster waiting to take home the title at the U.S. Grand Prix Freestyle Championship/U.S. League Final at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, April 1-3.
Olympic team Bronze medalist and defending League Final Champion Debbie McDonald and Brentina will vie for a chance to reclaim their 2003 World Cup title, but they’ll have to out-perform other big names like Leslie Morse, Guenter Seidel, Steffen Peters and Carol Plough, to have a shot at Las Vegas. Riding her two stallions, Kingston and Tip Top 962, Morse, the 2004 Olympic second alternate, comes off an outstanding Florida campaign, including wins at the Gold Coast Opener and Palm Beach Derby. Member of the 2004 Olympic Bronze medal winning team, Guenter Seidel returns from training and competing in Europe to ride Aragon and Nikolaus 7 at the Final. And rounding out the list of Olympic competitors, 2004 alternate Steffen Peters will be competing on Floriano. Already a hometown favorite for the competition, Peters has prepared with wins in the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle at the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair in Burbank. Fellow Californian Carol Plough has prepped her mount, Komo, with finishes right behind Peters, in California. Meanwhile, top-ranked U.S. rider Robert Dover has applied for a World Cup wild card on FBW Kennedy and therefore has decided to forego competing at the League Final.
The League Final will consist of two tests, but only one will determine final placement. The Grand Prix, slated for April 2, will determine the order of go for the Freestyle competition April 3. Only Sunday’s Freestyle test will determine which two horse and rider pairs will go on to compete at the 2005 FEI World Cup Dressage Final Presented by Offield Farms. In addition to the top two finishers, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) hopes to be awarded one or two additional wild cards by the FEI.
For the complete list of 2005 U.S. Dressage League standings with percentages, log on to www.usef.org, click on High Performance, then Dressage, and finally, 2005 World Cup Rankings, found under the 2005 World Cup header.