San Juan Capistrano, CA – Under glorious spring skies and set within the breathtaking vista of the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, the Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J/U-25 (being held March 31-April 2) got underway Thursday in San Juan Capistrano, and as the final event in California Dreaming Productions’ 2016 season this international dressage showcase drew the largest classes of the year across all CDI divisions as Olympic Team hopefuls begin their final countdown to Rio de Janeiro.
Leading the field of 18 horse/rider combinations both literally and figuratively in the CDI Grand Prix presented by Professional’s Choice was U.S. Team veteran Steffen Peters of San Diego riding Four Winds Farm’s young superstar Rosamunde (2007 Rheinlander mare Rock Forever x First Lady by Fidermark). Despite an unlucky draw as the first ride down centerline, the pair showed why they are currently ranked #2 on the USEF Ranking List for the 2016 Olympic Games as their score of 74.120% easily stood atop the leaderboard for the duration of the class and earned the unanimous win under all five judges ahead of Kathleen Raine and Breanna (Hanoverian mare Brentano II x World Queen by Weltmeyer, owned by Raine, David Wightman and Jennifer Mason) who earned 70.880% in their 2016 West Coast CDI debut. "There are so many times that I’m near the end of the class, it’s only fair that sometimes I should have to go first,” laughed Peters. “I was delighted with her. There were some little things that I wanted to polish in order to earn extra points with her, and we accomplished that today. The walk can sometimes be a little tense but it was better, and standing still is not always her most patient thing to do, but she was perfect for all three halts today. It’s those little things that all add up and help keep her pointed in the right direction if she is considered for Rio.”
Peters was two-for-two in his CDI classes today as he claimed victory in the Prix St. Georges presented by Shapley’s, this time aboard the stunning eight-year-old Bailarino (Breitling W x Schila by De Niro, owned by Four Winds Farm) who he also rode to two small tour wins in the Oldenburg gelding’s international debut just two weeks ago at The Dressage Affaire CDI. Peters’ score of 72.421% couldn’t be touched as the only competitor in the division to score over 70%. “He’s a horse that needs to be motivated in the show arena, but I felt like the expression that I was looking for from him came much easier today as opposed to Del Mar,” Peters explained. “He did a really strong walk tour which I think is one of his strengths, and very nice pirouettes. But I think his best asset is his connection: he’s just so beautiful and light in the bridle, honest into the contact, and so controlled and consistent – it makes him a very fun horse to ride.” Australia’s Emma Weinert O’Rourke with her 12-year-old black KWPN stallion Zidane (Rhodium x Melona by Falco) also improved upon their international debut in Del Mar to post 68.395% today, good enough for second place and a new personal best CDI score.
In the Young Rider division, Lauren Asher and her Hanoverian gelding De Noir 3 (Hanoverian gelding De Niro x Maharani by Matcho AA) continued their winning ways in the CDI Young Rider Team Prix St. Georges test with a score of 68.553%. After earning their first international victory together in January, the elegant pair have quickly become accustomed to leading the honor round as they move one step closer to securing a spot on the Region 7 NAYRC Team this summer. Taking reserve honors was Rachel Robinson aboard her new mount Indira (12-year-old Westphalian mare Insterburg x Daylight R by Danny de Vito) with 66.096%. Another familiar face in the winner’s circle is Veronica West and her own black Hanoverian gelding Nobleman (Hatiello XX x Weira by Wenzel II), who claimed yet another Junior Team Test victory with 66.757% over Christian Simonson with Herzkonig (Hanoverian gelding, His Highness x Fuchs by Weltmeyer) on 65.676%.
Complete results are available on the California Dreaming Productions website, www.californiadreamingproductions.com. Live video streaming of CDI classes brought to you by Dressage Training Online with expert commentary by FEI judge Axel Steiner resumes at 8:00am PT on CDP Live.