Lexington, Ky. - Three division of National Championship competition at the 2013 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp got underway Wednesday in the Kentucky Horse Park's Rolex Stadium. In the Dutta Corp/USEF Grand Prix National Championship, Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 have seized a sizable lead following an impressive test in the afternoon session, while Kim Herslow and Rosmarin head the field in the Dutta Corp/USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship. In the first division of the day, the USEF Young Adult "Brentina Cup" Dressage National Championship presented by Dressage Today, Emily Wagner and Weltdorff hold a narrow lead in their quest for a National Title. The competitors in the Dutta Corp/USEF Grand Prix National Championship were the final eight riders of the day to go down centerline in the Rolex Stadium. The first 45% of the championships scores were on the line as the elite U.S. competitors performed the FEI Grand Prix Test.
Dutta Corp/USEF Grand Prix National Championship
Peters (San Diego, Calif.) took his first step towards an unprecedented seventh National Title in the Grand Prix by scoring a 77% with Four Winds Farm's 11-year-old Westphalian gelding. The reigning National Champions delivered a nearly flawless test that was once again highlighted by Legolas 92's impressive piaffe and passage. In the past, the gelding has found difficulty with the flying changes but looked to be more confirmed in the movement on Wednesday afternoon.
"Legolas was great; I did a very short warm-up. The changes are always something I worry about but they felt good in the warm-up and just as good in the ring," said Peters. "I felt it was a very clean test which is what you look for on the first day." The combination spent time this summer in Europe competing against the very best in the world, including anchoring the third place U.S. effort at the Aachen CDIO5*. They will spend their off day on Thursday preparing for Grand Prix Special where they will look to recreate some of the strong work produced overseas.
"You can't practice the Special with him too much before the Grand Prix because he gets confused," said Peters. "The plan again is a clean test."
Wednesday's second place finishers, Kathleen Raine (Murrieta, Calif.) and Breanna, also spent time in Europe culminating in a second place U.S. Team finish at the Hickstead CDIO3*. In the FEI Grand Prix Test, Jennifer Mason, Kathleen Raine, and David Wightman's 13-year-old Hanoverian mare again showcased her top form to score 71.936%.
"I was really happy with Breanna, she was very consistent," said Raine of the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Program graduate. "She's gotten much stronger since I was in Europe. I was very happy with her today."
Finishing in third place was Raine's Hickstead teammate, Guenter Seidel (Cardiff, Calif.) and Coral Reef Ranch's Coral Reef Wylea. The pair scored 71.489% in spite of the 13-year-old Westphalian mare having her tongue over the bit for the first half of the test.
Grand Prix competition continues on Friday night, as riders will perform the FEI Grand Prix Special under the lights to earn another 40% of their overall total.
Find out everything you need to know about the championships at http://www.usefconnect.com/festival/.