Kenneth J. Braddick for Exquis World Dressage Masters
Wellington, Florida – February 4 -The Exquis World Dressage Masters Grand Prix on Thursday was the first act of a replay of the 2009 World Cup Final with the same results–Steffen Peters (USA) and Ravel first, Anky van Grunsven (NED) and Salinero second and Isabell Werth (GER) and Satchmo third.
The three top finishers from the USA, Holland and Germany for different reasons were really pleased with their rides in the €10,000 (US$14,000) Nürnberger Versicherungsgruppe Grand Prix that was watched by an estimated 2,500 spectators.
The €100,000 (US$138,000) Exquis World Dressage Masters at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is the only CDI5* competition–the highest level of dressage competition–in the Western Hemisphere.
Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, said the 12-year-old gelding, Ravel, performed as well as he ever has for the score of 76.851 per cent. All five judges placed him first. Ravel’s owners Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang looked on from the sidelines of the International Arena.
Anky van Grunsven of The Netherlands said this is the first major competition for the 16-year-old gelding Salinero in several months. She added, “Some little things could have been better, no major things.” They recieved a score of 74.638 per cent.
Isabell Werth of Germany, in her and Satchmo’s first outdoor competition in almost nine months and just three months since she gave birth to a son, Frederik, who traveled with her for her first visit to Wellington, posted a score of 72.553 per cent.
Ashley Holzer of Canada, who lives in New York and Wellington, competed with Pop Art and was the only other rider to score over 70 per cent, with 72.468 per cent. She said, “I’m so happy with the way we went, and in THIS company!” Three of the judges placed Ashley ahead of Isabell, and one tied.
The four top finishing riders will be the final quartet in the €60,000 (US$84,000) Exquis Grand Prix Freestyle to Music under the lights on Saturday night.
The other four riders in the freestyle that starts at 7 p.m. are the Dutch combination of Christa Laarakkers and Ovation who scored 68.170 per cent to tie for sixth place in the Grand Prix with Germany’s Anja Plönzke and Le Mont d’Or. The USA’s Tina Konyot of North Stonington, Connecticut and the stallion Calecto V tied for ninth place with 65.702 per cent and Denmark’s Mikala Munter Gundersen who is based in Wellington and rides Horses Unlimited’s Leonberg that scored 65.532 per cent for 11th place.
Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion Ulla Salzgeber and her mare Wakana of Germany finished fifth in the Grand Prix with 69.362 per cent and will be the last of eight combinations to start in the €30,000 (US$42,000) Moorland Grand Prix Special beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Steffen said that in the last six weeks, Ravel “already felt better than last year” when they won the World Cup Final at Las Vegas and the three CDIO events at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen, Germany, the first American to do so.
“The ride today was one of his best ones,” he said. “It felt really good. He felt extremely supple. A little bit more energetic than at Aachen. It’s a really good start to the season.”
Steffen said he changed a few things in the freestyle that gives him an option to increase the degree of difficult in Saturday night’s class.
“If he feels relaxed enough, I’m going to go for it on Saturday night, but we’ll see. “If you have a good freestyle, it’s almost like a good movie. It’s almost extremely difficult to make a good sequel if you don’t match the quality. I’m so happy the way things work in the freestyle, that’s why I want to be careful and don’t go too crazy with it.”
Steffen said that although the decision has been made to skip defending their World Cup title at the final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, in March, there is still a possibility of returning to Aachen in July in advance of the U.S. selection trials for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in September.
Anky van Grunsven, who won the inaugural Exquis World Dressage Masters at Palm Beach on IPS Painted Black in 2009, said that Salinero, her Olympic gold medal mount, had “really settled down” in Wellington. “I think I have some little things that could have been better, but no major things,” she said. “I was very pleased with Salinero.”
She came here with her husband, Sjef Janssen, the coach for both herself and the Dutch national team, and their two children.
“We’re very concentrated on the competition, but for us it’s also a sort of holiday, too,” she said. “The children are with us, it’s nice weather, and it’s relaxed. Of course the competition you want to do well, but the atmosphere is so nice. It’s beautiful surroundings. I could stay for two weekends!”
Isabell’s ride was before the owner of Satchmo, Madeleine Winter-Schulze, who also is making her first visit to Wellington. Isabell’s sister, Claudio, takes care of Frederik when Isabell is riding.
“It’s funny,” she said, “I have done two competitions after now eight months without competition, it’s really not new again, but you miss the fine tuning. That’s what we have to work for to get the little mistakes and details away. I felt much better. I was really pleased with Satchmo because after eight months, a long trip, different weather, and such a huge arena, it’s really impressive for him and for me. I was really happy that he was quite concentrated.”
She said that when she talks with her family in Germany, “I feel a bit guilty” because the weather is so cold at home. “It’s my first time here, and I’m really impressed with the whole facility and really huge showground. I think it’s really made for the horses and the sport.
“I said to my owner that it’s the first time, but I’m sure it’s not the last time here! With the World Cup season, it’s difficult to both and stay here for a few months, but it would be really nice.”
The Exquis World Dressage Masters will continue on Saturday, February 6, with the Moorland Stable’s Grand Prix Special at 1 p.m. and the Exquis Musical Freestyle at 7 p.m. in the International Arena. Live results for Saturday are available at this link: Feb. 4-6 – Exquis World Dressage Masters CDI5* – Wellington, Florida.
Final Results: Exquis World Dressage Masters CDI 5* Class: 1 – Grand Prix Judge E-Leymann Judge H-Markowski Judge C-Rockwell Judge M-Steiner Judge B-Mandl
Place Entry # Horse Rider % Rk % Rk % Rk % Rk % Rk Score %
1. 37 Ravel Steffen Peters 76.809 77.021 76.596 77.447 76.383 1806 76.851
2. 23 Salinero Anky van Grunsven 73.617 76.596 73.617 75.319 74.043 1754 74.638
3. 45 Satchmo 78 Isabell Werth 74.681 71.277 71.489 74.043 71.277 1705 72.553
4. 46 Pop Art Ashley Holzer 71.277 71.915 71.489 74.468 73.191 1703 72.468
5. 47 Wakana Ulla Salzgeber 71.064 64.468 71.702 69.362 70.213 1630 69.362
6. 34 Ovation Christa Laarakkers 67.447 69.149 65.319 68.936 70.000 1602 68.170
6. 31 Le Mont d’Or Anja Ploenzke 67.234 68.085 67.872 68.936 68.723 1602 68.170
8. 38 Lucky Tiger Pierre Saint Jacques 66.383 66.596 65.745 66.596 65.745 1556 66.213
9. 40 Oliver Elisabeth Austin 64.043 65.745 66.383 66.383 65.957 1544 65.702
9. 42 Calecto V Tina Konyot 66.809 66.170 67.660 63.830 64.043 1544 65.702
11. 33 Leonberg Mikala Munter Gunderse 65.957 66.596 63.830 65.532 65.745 1540 65.532
12. 35 Anton Belinda Trussell 64.468 66.170 65.532 64.894 65.957 1537 65.404
13. 43 Tip Top 962 Leslie Morse 64.894 64.894 67.234 63.404 63.830 1524 64.851
14. 36 Premier Aat van Essen 63.617 62.340 66.383 65.532 62.979 1508 64.170
15. 39 Devon L Diane Creech 63.830 63.404 64.894 63.404 64.894 1506 64.085
16. 24 Olympus Michael Barisone 63.404 62.340 65.532 62.979 63.191 1492 63.489
The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 13 through April 4. WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $5.5 million in prize money will be awarded.