SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA – Anticipation was high as a crowd gathered for the CDI Grand Prix Freestyle (sponsored by Adventure Farms), the highlight class of the second day of competition at California Dreaming Productions' Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J/U-25 being held March 31-April 2 in San Juan Capistrano. All eyes were on U.S. Team veteran Steffen Peters and fan-favorite Rosamunde (Rheinlander mare Rock Forever x First Lady by Fidermark, owned by Four Winds Farm) as they unveiled their dramatic new freestyle, and the pair did not disappoint judges or spectators for a winning score of 76.243%. Finishing in second was Kathleen Raine and Breanna (Hanoverian mare Brentano II x World Queen by Weltmeyer, owned by Raine, David Wightman and Jennifer Mason) who earned 72.575% for their popular Michael Jackson-themed performance.
"For the first time out, I was pleased. We'll continue to tweak and polish it a little bit, and after we do it a few more times we'll both get more used to it - it's quite a difficult freestyle, but it's is something she and I can continue to grow into," said Peters of his new freestyle, highlighted by the easily-recognizable music of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" for the piaffe/passage tours. "It may not have been our best performance as we did have a mistake in the one-tempis, but there were so many good things too, including beautiful pirouettes and a nice relaxed walk and good halts. Those little things can be easily overlooked and be deceptively difficult for a sensitive young horse like her."
For Rosamunde's choreography, Peters chose to incorporate some challenging sequences of movements which he's previously used in both Ravel's and Legolas' popular freestyles, and acknowledged that coming on the heels of both of those horses' successes, expectations for "Rosie" are high. "It's such a long road with this freestyle because we've produced so many good ones, making it a challenge to come up with another one that is of the same quality of Ravel and Legolas. The bar has been set very high," Peters explained. "I look at it like a movie sequel - it's very hard to top the first one. But I believe that if you want to compete at the top level, you have to continue to better yourself. So yes, it's a very difficult freestyle, but now is the time for Rosie to begin to 'step up' and be able to produce an Olympic-quality performance."
With Steffen Peters' expert guidance, Bailarino's first CDI season has been a rousing success as the eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Breitling W x Schila by De Niro, owned by Four Winds Farm) once again took home the blue ribbon with a breathtaking performance in the Intermediaire I for 72.982%. Also earning over 70% for reserve honors was Shayna Simon and her 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Harley Davidson (His Highness x Walt Lady by Walt Disney I) with 70.088%. Former USEF Young Rider National Champion and NAYRC Team Gold Medalist Anna Buffini and her KWPN gelding Wilton 11 (Jazz x Olympia-W by Contango) are undefeated this year in the Under-25 division, but their winning streak continued only by the barest of margins in Friday's U-25 Intermediaire II test: their score of 66.798% was just one-tenth of a point better than fellow NAYRC Medalist Mackinzie Pooley with Aloha, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Donatelli x Savoir Faire by Rubinstein) owned by Sharon Criswell, a new pair making their international debut together and earning 66.623%. The five horse/rider combinations in the Under-25 division thoroughly impressed CDP Live expert commentator Axel Steiner (FEI 5* ret. USA). "There are some really, really good up-and-coming riders in this group," said Steiner. "It's nice to see, because this is our sport's future."
In the Young Rider division, Rachel Robinson and her 12-year-old Westphalian mare Indira (Insterburg x Daylight R by Danny de Vito) rebounded from a second-place finish in the Team Test to turn the tables on their rivals in the Individual Test. Their winning score of 66.658% was just enough to edge out Lauren Asher and De Noir 3 (Hanoverian gelding De Niro x Maharani by Matcho AA) with 66.421%. After sweeping the CDI Junior division at Del Mar two weeks ago, Veronica West repeated this success in San Juan Capistrano as she and Nobleman (Hanoverian gelding Hatiello XX x Weira by Wenzel II) claimed yet another Junior Individual Test victory with 66.667% over Annie Ray aboard her own nine-year-old KWPN gelding (Dolany x Ramona by Weyden) with 64.649% in their first CDI of the season.
Complete results are available on the California Dreaming Productions website, www.californiadreamingproductions.com.