Isabell Werth Wins Grand Prix Special Gold Medal, Steffen Peters Places Fourth!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Two Americans Qualify for the Musical Freestyle at the 2006 World Equestrian Games

By Jeannie Blancq Putney and Brian Sosby for USEF

To say it was tough competition today in the dressage grand prix special at the 2006 World Equestrian Games (WEG) would be a gross understatement. But two Americans made it look like a walk in the park. American’s Guenter Seidel and Steffen Peters, who are now both poised to enter a showdown among the top 15 dressage riders that have made the cut to move forward to Saturday’s final dressage phase–the musical freestyle–in a battle to see who will take home dressage’s top honor and the title of world champion.

The top 30 riders from the grand prix were showcased, minus Debbie McDonald and Brentina, who had to give up their spot yesterday when they decided Brentina’s minor injury was enough reason to keep her out of the individual competition. This left only the two Americans, Seidel and Peters.

Seidel, dubbed by many as the “piaffe king” aboard Aragon, was the first American to go. Aragon is a 14-year-old Bavarian Warmblood gelding, owned by Richard and Jane Brown. Their ride earned them a 70.560, putting them in 14th place, and earning them a spot in Saturday night’s freestyle competition.

“He taught me that I do have a great horse under my butt,” Seidel said. “He has a lot of potential. Sometimes when things don’t go too well, you stop believing so much in yourself and the horse. There are moments like that. It’s good to have a show like this where you have great highlights, and you really know why you picked the horse in the first place and why you continue to work hard every day.”

Peters and the 16-year-old Westphalian gelding, Floriano, owned by Stephen and Laurelyn Browning, did more than wow the crowd. They put in a brilliant ride and took over the top spot with only seven rides to go. The dynamic duo earned a 75.200 with their relaxed, yet forward, extended walk, elegant transitions and floating extended trot, to name just a few of the high points.

“I didn’t expect it because he came in a little bit nervous,” said Peters. “This arena over here is extremely difficult, and when I came in, the crowd was still pretty excited about Imke’s ride, so I was fairly concerned about that, but as soon as I trotted around and asked for the collected walk, he was relaxed, and that gave me a very good feeling…I heard the noise that was going through the audience so I thought the score for the extended walk was pretty good. Overall, it is just amazing at 16-years-old how much energy this horse has. I am so excited about that.”

When asked what it means to him to do this on a horse that isn’t that famous, Peters quickly replied, “Well, the good thing is now he is famous.”

Peters and Floriano finished in the fourth spot and will be competing in Saturday night’s freestyle. “It’s neat to dream about it, but when your dreams become reality, it’s pretty special,” he commented.

Tonight’s winners of the individual grand prix special were Isabell Werth of Germany on Satchmo with the Gold medal, Anky Van Grunsven of The Netherlands on Keltec Salinero with the Silver medal, and Andreas Helgstrand of Denmark on Blue Hors Matine.

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