Burbank, CA - California's Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 showed why they are favorites to lead the U.S. Dressage Team to France for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games this summer by earning a unanimous victory from all five judges in today's Grand Prix Special at California Dreaming Productions' Mid-Winter Dressage Fair CDI-W/Y/J/U-25 (presented by Hof Kasselmann) held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, CA. In front of an appreciative crowd enjoying a fantastic brunch on the VIP ringside terrace, Guenter Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea (14-year-old Westfalen mare [Weinberg x Si Jolie by Saluut] owned by Coral Reef Ranch) threw down the gauntlet with a lovely performance in the challenging Grand Prix Special test on a score of 72.784%, but their score was ultimately good enough for only second. Last to go in the class, Peters had a solid performance highlighted by his 12-year-old Westfalen gelding's signature flamboyant expression in the piaffe and passage to earn a winning score of 75.255%. "You don't see piaffe much better than this," noted FEI 5* (ret) judge Axel Steiner in commentary during live streaming of the event on the CDP Live webpage.
Reflecting on progress made since Legolas made his international competition debut at the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair two years ago, Peters was very pleased with his mount's performance and consistency. "For a long time the flying changes were very difficult for him, but he's come so far and now did two tests in a row this weekend without making any mistakes," he explained. "That's huge and hasn't happened before. He feels more confident about it, I feel more confident about it, and because of that we both feel more comfortable. That's what it's all about - going on to the next show with an increasingly confident feeling." Peters and Legolas will now aim for California Dreaming Productions' back-to-back CDIs in March, the Capistrano Dressage International and Festival of the Horse, both to be held at Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano.
A large field of small tour riders once again entered the Equidome for the afternoon's Intermediaire I test, which turned into a hard-fought battle for the champion's sash. But once again Peters once again found the winner's circle with Carla Hayes' nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Aristo (Olivi x Selina by Krack C), who earned 69.298% from the judging panel to narrowly edge out second-place finisher Elizabeth Ball riding Cadence LLC's Dutch Warmblood gelding Avanti (Tuchinski x Fleur by Naturel) with a score of 68.991%. "It was tough to place the class in the end," said FEI Foreign Judge Jean-Michel Roudier (5* FRA). "The top group of horses had wonderful highlights as well as some mistakes, but I saw a lot of potential there for the future."
In the CDI Under-25 division, veteran NAJYRC competitors began their transitions to the Grand Prix ranks by contesting the new FEI Intermediate B test. Canada's Monica Houweling rode Rifradin (1998 Dutch Warmblood mare [Gribaldi x Atradin by Formateur] owned by Linda Houweling) to victory on a score of 66.032%, followed by Mackinzie Pooley (USA) aboard the 17-year-old Dutch gelding Partous (Juventus x Ladyway by Hemingway) with 64.365%.
Standings in the CDI Young Rider division remained the same as the first day of competition as Anna Buffini topped the leaderboard in the Individual Test (72.281%) with her powerful 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Sundayboy (Kennedy x Eezelma by Zevenaar). "I was very impressed with the winner today," said judge Gary Rockwell (FEI 5* USA). "It is an exceptional horse, and she rode very well and with a maturity for her age." Finishing second was Catherine Chamberlain aboard her Dutch Warmblood partner Verdicci (Krack C x Nadine's Monday by Jackson) with 69.693%. Emily Park scored her second consecutive FEI Junior division victory in as many days with Tracy Roenick's 17-year-old Dutch mare Pretty Lady (Iglesias x Ivonne by Sit This One Out), this time in the Individual Test on a dominant score of 67.947%, followed by 60.079% for Bryce Quinto and Ramazotti 75 (18-year-old Swedish gelding [Master x Baccara by Bernstein] owned by Lehua Custer).
Complete results are available on the California Dreaming Productions website HERE. The final day of competition at the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair resumes Sunday at 8:30am PST.
Formed by a partnership between long-time show organizer Glenda McElroy of Burbank, CA and Grand Prix riders and trainers David and Alisa Wilson of Chino Hills, CA, the goal of California Dreaming Productions is to bring a fresh face to international-level dressage competition on the West Coast. Additional show information is available on the new California Dreaming Productions website, as well as regular updates posted on Facebook. For more information, contact Glenda McElroy, firstname.lastname@example.org, or David and Alisa Wilson, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.