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Steffen Peters was in a league of his own at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center on the afternoon of March 10th, as he and Ravel thrilled the audience with a personal best performance in the Grand Prix test at the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach CDI5* presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach. Riding Akiko Yamazaki's 13 year old Dutch Warmblood gelding, the Olympic and World Equestrian Games medalist entered the arena last of 17 American, Canadian and European competitors. From beginning to end, the ride stood out for its power and harmony. It was a one-two finish for the United States at the WDM Palm Beach. Tina Konyot and her 13 year old Danish Warmblood stallion Calecto V placed second with 72.213% after a dynamic and harmonious test. "I try to improve every time we go out," said Konyot. "This was one of my better Grand Prix tests, and it certainly was the right time to do it."
Peters was rewarded with the win and the highest Grand Prix score of his FEI career, 80.872%. "It was just an amazing ride," said Peters after the awards presentation. "It will, from now on, be the ride that I compare all the other rides to."
Europe was represented in today's top three, with Tinne Vilhelmsson Silfven placing third on Favourit after the FEI ground jury awarded her with 71.340% for her performance. The 12 year old Rheinlander gelding is owned by Antonia Ax:son Johnson of Axel Johnson Group, the presenting sponsor of the World Dressage Masters series. Vilhelmsson Silfven has been based in South Florida through the winter with a group of horses, and has thoroughly enjoyed the experience. "It's been such a great time these three months. For me this has been just super."
All the competitors expressed gratitude to the sponsors and organizers who came together on short notice to make sure the WDM Palm Beach didn't disappear from the 2011 calendar. "We are excited to have the WDM here," said Konyot. "At first we were disappointed that it wasn't going to happen, but thanks to the sponsors who stepped in, we are all here. The organizers have done a spectacular job." Among the many preparations made for the WDM Palm Beach was an enhancement of the footing in the competition arena and warm ups, which was commended by all the riders. "The footing is not just good; I personally think it's perfect", said Peters.
Noreen O'Sullivan of Wellington Classic Dressage, the producer of the WDM Palm Beach presented by International Polo Club, is delighted to see the positive result of the work she and her team have put into making the event happen. "I have to thank many people. This really was a team effort from everyone, including the riders and sponsors."
The World Dressage Masters stands alone in the world as a unique series in the Olympic sport of dressage. It also offers more prize money than any dressage series in history. Of the 100,000 Euros to be awarded at the WDM Palm Beach, 10,000 Euros were handed out for the Grand Prix. A further 30,000 Euros will be awarded for the Grand Prix Special, with the Grand Prix Freestyle yielding the greatest reward, 60,000 Euros. The top eight placed competitors from the Grand Prix will ride in Friday night's Grand Prix Freestyle, which is a sold out affair featuring a five course French-inspired dinner served at ringside. The remaining nine competitors will ride in the Grand Prix Special at 1 pm on Friday afternoon.
Eurosport Events is the official broadcaster of the World Dressage Masters series, and will show highlights from the Grand Prix Freestyle as part of "Wednesday Selection", a weekly prime-time program that features equestrian among other sports, such as sailing and golf. The USEF will provide a live webcast of Friday's Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle. Coverage of the Grand Prix Special will begin at 1 pm EST, and the Freestyle will begin at 7:30 pm EST. The free, worldwide live coverage can be found at http://www.usefnetwork.com/WDM2011.
World Dressage Masters Palm Beach CDI5*
Grand Prix Results
Steffen Peters (USA) - Ravel - 80.872%
Tina Konyot (USA) - Calecto V - 72.213%
Tinne Vilhelmsson Silfven (SWE)-Favourit - 71.340%
Ashley Holzer (CAN) - Pop Art - 71.064%
Todd Fletrich (USA) - Otto - 69.936%
Anja Ploenzke (GER) - Le Mont d'Or - 69.851%
Shawna Harding (USA) - Come On III - 69.085%
Anne Van Olst (DEN) - Exquis Clearwater - 68.872%
Pierre St Jacques (USA) - Lucky Tiger - 68.511%
Michal Rapcewicz (POL) - Randon - 68.170%
Christa Laarakkers (NED) - Ovation - 68.085%
Shannon Dueck (CAN) - Ayscha - 66.170%
Valentina Truppa (ITA) - Chablis - 66.149%
Elisabeth Austin (USA) - Olivier - 64.851%
Jacqueline Brooks (CAN) - Gran Gesto - 64.021%
Gary Vander Ploeg (CAN) - Cezanne - 62.362%
Yvonne Losos de Muñiz (DOM) - Dondolo Las Marismas - 62.319%
World Dressage Masters Palm Beach Continues Friday March 11th, 1:00 pm: CDI5*Grand Prix Special, and Friday, March 11th, 6:00 pm: CDI5* Grand Prix Freestyle