Lexington, KY - The brilliant United States dressage duo, Steffen Peters of San Diego, CA, and Ravel, owned by Four Winds Farm and Akiko Yamazaki, won the bronze medal at the FEI World Dressage Championship in the Grand Prix Special. They received a score of 78.542%, the best Grand Prix Special score that they have ever received. It was quite an accomplishment for Peters; an American rider has never won an individual medal since the World Equestrian Games began in 1990.
Peters was wiping away tears on the podium in the medal presentation, knowing that this accomplishment was the culmination of many years of hard work.
"I have to be honest, I can tell you how many years, days, and hours it's been since Hong Kong and I missed the bronze medal," he revealed. "My wife knows how tough that was. I never admitted that and I tried to control myself afterwards. That it finally happened today was huge. I had to wipe away tears on the podium. I can't believe how lucky I am that Akiko (Yamazaki) and Jerry (Yang) allow me to ride this horse. What he did was unbelievable. There was certainly huge pressure for the team yesterday, and there was just as much if not more today. When that happened, I was simply beside myself."
Peters and Ravel, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Contango x Democraat, had a third place finish yesterday in the Grand Prix, which helped the U.S. Team finish fourth, and he was hoping to stay consistent for today's first individual final.
"It was a cleaner test today," he explained. "The amazing part is Ravel still felt very, very strong. I didn't feel him one single bit tired. He was still going for the extensions like he was yesterday. His passage felt amazing. His strength is always the half-pass in trot. It worked out beautifully, and I can't even tell you what I felt getting done with this test and then having the crowd behind me. It was just an amazing experience. I love it."
Peters' and Ravel's judge's scores were: E - Cara Whitham (CAN): 77.708%, H - Stephen Clarke (GBR): 78.958%, C - Mary Seefried (AUS): 77.292%, M - Maribel Alonso (MEX): 77.083%, B - Linda Zang (USA): 81.667%.
Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Nartan, owned by Jane Clark, were the second American duo to enter the arena for their Grand Prix Special test. They had a good ride and the judges scored them with a total of 68.875%. They finished in 19th place. The judge's scores were: E: 70.417%, H: 68.958%, C: 67.500%, M: 67.500%, B: 70.000%.
Bateson-Chandler said that she had a better feeling about today's Special test. "To be honest, we concentrate 100% on the Grand Prix, so I haven't gotten to practice the Special, and I haven't had my horse for long. I've only done two other Specials with him. In that way, I'm not clean enough on the test for my riding," she said.
"I am thrilled with my horse," Bateson-Chandler said of Nartan. "He's about the most honest animal ever. That horse tried his heart out. I've never had a ride like that where a horse was so honest and tried so hard. His temperament is his biggest strength. He has a really super passage; I'm working on getting it in the ring. It's feeling much, much better. He has incredible extended canter; that always picks me up some points. He has an incredible extended walk. The piaffes are getting better and better. He has a lot of strengths!"
Tina Conyot and Calecto V, owned by Tina Konyot, scored 68.625% to finish in 20th place. Her scores from the judges were: E: 63.333%, H: 69.375%, C: 70.625%, M: 69.375%, B: 70.417%.
She said of her test today, "I was very, very happy actually. It was a very nice ride. I lost a lot of points on my first passage where he was a little bit skipping behind, but that's something that I created with that horse when he didn't have any hind leg at all and since we're only into this Grand Prix for the past year and a half - so we're quite green at it - we have good Grand Prix and not so good Grand Prix. The opening of it was just not very good, and after that it sort of evened out and got better and better. I had a beautiful canter tour. I was very happy with that."
Konyot is a rare owner/rider, and she is proud of how she has brought Calecto V along in the past four years. "He's my friend," she remarked. "Nobody wanted him four years ago, and I made him. Today I made him a champion, so I am very proud of that. It's a great honor to be riding on the American team when you've created something that nobody thought anything of."
The top 15 riders from the Special will advance to Friday's Grand Prix Freestyle competition; Peters and Ravel will be the only American combination.
Peters noted, "Whatever happens in the freestyle, if it goes well, is going to be icing on the cake even if it's not a good freestyle. I am so pleased with the last couple of days - I am beside myself. Ravel made a little history today, it's huge."
Photos: Steffen Peters and Ravel in the Grand Prix Special. Photo by Shannon Brinkman for USEF.
Steffen Peters Celebrates a Bronze Medal. Photo by Shannon Brinkman for USEF.