Wellington, Fla. - National Championship competition came to a close this evening at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival grounds in the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp. In The Dutta Corp./USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship, Winning two of the three classes in The Dutta Corp./USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship was Laura Graves and Verdades, who added their first ever National Championship title to a year of remarkable success.
Earning their first ever National Championship title were Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and her own Verdades, who won two of the three division classes this week. The pair overcame some bobbles in day one's FEI Grand Prix test to score a 76.460%, accounting for 45% of its championship title. On day two, in the FEI Grand Prix Special, the pair built on its lead with a fluid and dynamic test, winning with a score of 77.137%. Today the gelding showcased his great power, scoring 75.125% in a test that was not without its faults, finishing second in the class.
"He's been feeling really good all week and tonight was a demonstration of how much horse I have now," explained Graves. "I am still on a sharp learning curve and am still learning to ride that horse in that environment. This was our first outing [since the Pan American Games in July] and was a perfect opportunity to figure this out now going into our World Cup qualifiers. He is amazingly athletic and when he goes like that the feeling is unreal. We had some mistakes tonight, but I can't hold that against my horse." Speaking to the feeling of securing her first National title, Graves said, "I've never been close to this position before so it's a real honor. This is a really encouraging place to be as we begin 2016."
Remaining closely behind Graves in the division standings all week was veteran competitor and winner of the last four Grand Prix National Championships, Steffen Peters (San Diego, Calif.), with his Four Winds Farms-owned mounts Rosamunde and Legolas 92. After disappointing performances for Peters on day one, he was ranked second with Legolas 92 and third with Rosamunde. Day two proved Peters' masterful ability to rise to the occasion. Rosamunde performed beautifully through the FEI Grand Prix Special, scoring a 74.549% and moving up to second on the leaderboard. Stablemate Legolas 92 earned a 72.412% and dropped to third in the championship rankings by the slimmest of margins. Saturday garnered further positive results for Peters with Legolas 92 executing his crowd-pleasing Freestyle with music from U2 and Vanilla Ice to win the class on a score of 77.675% and take Reserve National Championship title.
"I was super excited. It was one of his best Freestyles. I am so familiar with the routine and I thought even tonight I wasn't just with the music, but I was really with the footfall of every single beat."
Rosamunde performed her second career Freestyle, handling the bustling atmosphere with grace to score 74.950% and place third overall.
All championship competition will be available on-demand on USEFNetwork.com.