The awards ceremony of the opening class of the The Dutta Corp/USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship and Selection Trial for the U.S. Dressage Team Short List for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games had a distinctive Olympic feel as the three top placings were occupied by the U.S. Team members from the 2012 Games with Steffen Peters, Jan Ebeling, and Tina Konyot leading the victory gallop. But it was a three way tie for fourth place which showed the upcoming talent on the edge. Adrienne Lyle and Wizard, Caroline Roffman and Her Highness O and Laura Graves and Verdades who are knocking on the door of the uture on American Dressage. Steffen Peters (San Diego, Calif.) and Four Winds Farm's 12-year-old Westphalian gelding earned the top mark in Grand Prix, scoring 75.160%, in spite of a couple of mistakes he is confident can be improved upon in Grand Prix Special on Saturday. The 2012 and 2013 National Champions suffered a bobble in the first piaffe and the two-time changes but produced consistent work through the rest of the test to land atop the leaderboard on Thursday. "It was not our best test," Peters admitted, "but he made up for it with his half-passes and second and third piaffes."
The crowd favorite was clearly Jan Ebeling (Moorpark, Calif) and Rafalca finishing in second place with a score of 73.320% with a fluid and mistake free ride. The 17-year-old Oldenburg mare Rafalca, owned by Beth Meyer, Ann Romney, and Amy Ebeling is an Olympic Games and World Cup Final veteran who is in top form, some say the best form they have seen her in her illustrious career. She has had a light season in the show ring and arrived in Gladstone ready to peak. "I'm absolutely thrilled with my horse; she was on, she's fit," said Ebeling. "I think the strategy I've had not showing a lot is really paying off. In tickled to death with her."
The beautiful mare who was the darling of the Olympic Selection Trials in 2012, demonstrated fluid transitions in the piaffe and passage, while showing the confidence of her experiences and connection wit her rider.
Finishing in third place on Thursday was Konyot (Palm City, Fla.) with her 16-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion Calecto V on a score of 72.640%. Konyot connected with the Gladstone arena, familiar territory for the Florida resident, who had a strong showing during the winter season.