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California riders sizzle in Europe

Special to the Horsetrader - July 16th, 2009 - Show & Event News

Steffen Peters and Ravel sweep World Equestrian Festival dressage for the U.S.

Steffen Peters and Ravel win all three dressage classes in the 2009 World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen: the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle

Ken Braddick photo / Courtesy of USEF

Steffen Peters and Ravel win all three dressage classes in the 2009 World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen: the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle

AACHEN, Germany — In an unprecedented sweep, Steffen Peters riding Ravel, the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Akiko Yamazaki, swept all three dressage classes in the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen: the Grand Prix, the Grand Prix Special and the Grand Prix Freestyle–and further validating their 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Dressage Final victory this past April.

The sweep was a first for an American combination, and they did it in classic style, representing California and the United States. Peters and Ravel’s score in the July 5 finale Grand Prix Freestyle was 85.6 percent–more than a point clear of multi-Olympic Gold medalist and FEI World Cup champion Anky van Grunsven of the Netherlands riding IPS Salinero.

Peters picked up 30,000 EURO for their efforts on July 5, pushing their three-day prize money total to more than 45,000 EURO. With this win, Peters (who was born in Germany, but became a U.S. citizen years ago) more than realized a lifelong dream of finishing in the top three at Aachen. He achieved it, to standing ovations, with family, friends and fans in attendance to celebrate his tremendous accomplishment.

“It was almost like riding in front of a home crowd. The competition went even better than at the World Cup Finale in Las Vegas,” said Peters, the 44-year-old rider who emigrated to California as a 20-year-old after growing up in Rhineland, Germany. “You only get a horse like Ravel once in a lifetime. He is very sensitive, is always on my side and ready to fight for me, but at the same time he is extremely relaxed and totally reliable, which means I can ride into the tests without being nervous.”

Aachen seems to bond the two, because Peters discovered Ravel during the FEI World Equestrian Games at the Soers in 2006. “It seems to be a good omen, my sponsors bought him for me back then. We took our time with him, he was my secret weapon, and his first international tournament was the Olympic Games in Hong Kong in 2008,” Peters said.

The 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games next September in Lexington, Ky., are the pair’s next big goal. “We are going to take things easy now, perhaps we will compete at the World Dressage Masters in the autumn,” Peters said. “Otherwise, we are going to wrap Ravel up in cotton wool, to make sure that he remains fit.”

After winning the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and the Grand Prix Freestyle at the 2009 World Equestrian Festival, Peters and Ravel also secured the title of Dressage Champions Aachen 2009.

As Dressage Champion Aachen 2009, the special prize for the owner of the horse that collected the most points in the Grand Prix CDIO Tour was awarded to Ravel’s owner, Akiko Yamazaki. Peters and Ravel’s total score after all three competitions was 240.347, ahead of Anky van Grunsven on IPS Salinero. The successful Dutch duo collected an overall score of 232.445. Hans Peter Minderhoud of the Netherlands ranked third with Exquis Nadine and a total score of 226.9689.

“I am pleased that Ravel is now one of the top horses in the world, that does mean a lot of extra pressure, but it is also a great feeling,” Peters said.

In the Grand Prix, Peters and Ravel put in an amazing test, scoring 77.830 percent against many of the best horses and riders in the world. The five judges unanimously placed the pair first, and their average was more than 5 points clear of second place finisher, Hans Peter Minderhoud and Exquis Nadine. Among those left in their wake were Anky van Grunsven and IPS Salinero, who finished fifth on a score of 71.362 percent.

The 2009 World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen ran from June 26-July 5. About 450 horses and 300 equestrian athletes from 24 nations competed in Aachen, Germany, in the five disciplines of show jumping, dressage, eventing, driving and vaulting.

For complete results, visit the Web site: www.chioaachen.com

Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7 win Warsteiner Prize at CHIO Aachen

Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7 win the Warsteiner Prize at World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen

Ken Braddick photo / Courtesy of USEF

Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7 win the Warsteiner Prize at World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen

AACHEN, Germany — Ashlee Bond continued her winning European ways with a fantastic victory in the Warsteiner Prize, one of the featured events at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen.

The Hidden Hills, Calif., rider flew to the win on Little Valley Farm’s fleet-footed Cadett 7. The talented duo bested 50 of Europe’s best horses and riders in an impressive effort, which involved the fastest round of 14 in the jump-off.

“I’m ecstatic,” Bond said after the class. “I’m so excited, it’s awesome–I didn’t come here to just be a person to go in the ring and say that I did it. I came to play with the big boys.”

The pair went first in the jump-off, but no one was able to get close to their time of 45.93 seconds, the margin of victory was nearly 1.5 seconds.

Cadett 7 has jumped double-clear in three consecutive Meydan FEI Nations Cup classes in Europe and both he and his 24-year-old rider have excelled in the big European venues.

“He was perfect,” said Bond about the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding. “He is amazing, I’m so blessed, he just so awesome.”

Next on the dynamo’s calendar is the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen, one of the most coveted titles in the sport of show jumping. Only two Americans, Anne Kursinski and Beezie Madden have taken top honors in the Grand Prix before.

“I will let him rest him up for three days and gear up for Sunday,” said Bond. “I’m alarmingly calm competing in Europe. I love it. For some reason it is very calming in the ring for me over here.”

For complete results, visit the Web site: www.chioaachen.com

Richard Spooner clinches second consecutive Meydan FEI Nations Cup win for U.S.

Richard Spooner and Cristallo help secure a U.S. win in Switzerland as part of the Meydan FEI Nations Cup.

Remco Veurink photo / Courtesy of FEI & USEF

Richard Spooner and Cristallo help secure a U.S. win in Switzerland as part of the Meydan FEI Nations Cup.

ST. GALLEN, Switzerland — The U.S. Show Jumpers continued their march across Europe with another amazing performance in St. Gallen, Switzerland, in the third leg of the Meydan FEI Nations Cup. Californians Richard Spooner and Ashlee Bond, along with fellow U.S. teammates Christine McCrea and Laura Kraut stayed on the roll that began in Rome and continued with a jump-off for the win in Switzerland in June.

“It doesn’t happen often back-to back to win in a top league like this,” said U.S. Chef d’Equipe George Morris. “This is a great group; we have five great riders and a bunch of wonderful horses.”

Morris selected Spooner of Agua Dulce, Calif., to jump-off to break the tie. The seasoned veteran carried the weight of the win back into the ring for the third time.

“I could have used any of the three in the jump off,” said Morris of Spooner, Kraut or Bond. “Richard’s horse was very, very fast in Rome, but I didn’t want to get him any more strong, he was very strong today. I thought maybe Ashlee’s horse as he was a bit more backed up, Richard helps Ashlee, Ashlee was leaning to Richard, so I said we can flip a coin. Ashlee would have done a great job. Richard is a master craftsman, a master jump-off rider.”

Spooner, known across the U.S. jumping community for his uncanny ability to shave seconds off seemingly unbeatable times, put the Europeans on notice that his accelerator was good on both sides of the Atlantic. Riding Cristallo, an 11-year-old gelding owned by Half Moon Bay, Inc., Spooner went head-to-head with German rider Marcus Ehning after the two teams were tied on four faults after the two Nations Cup rounds.

Spooner had the disadvantage of going first in the jump-off, he put up a lightning fast time on the headstrong Cristallo but had the fourth fence down, a tall vertical, meaning that all Ehning had to do was jump clear. Riding Plot Blue, the German rider hunted around the course in textbook style, but had the very last fence down with the lightest of rubs. Spooner was more than 10 seconds faster, so his time prevailed.

“Richard’s strategy was he had to really lay it on him,” Morris said. “Marcus is a very fast and smooth rider. If he hadn’t, Marcus could have gone very fast, Richard had a little bad luck at one fence. Marcus played it right and carefully but just hit the last fence.”

Bond of Hidden Hills, Calif., continued to defy her age for the United States as the 24-year-old rider jumped two clear rounds on Cadett 7 for the third consecutive Nations Cup–an unprecedented achievement.

Olympic veterans Kraut and Cedric had one rail in the second round after a first round clear, continuing their consistent roll through Europe. McCrea riding Vegas struggled in the second round and retired, but they served as valuable substitutions for Lauren Hough riding Quick Study.

“I’m very pleased, it is very, very important to stay in this league,” said Morris of the Meydan FEI Nations Cup standings. “This league is our preparation for championships. This gives us a leg up for the summer. Not that we can coast but it will give everyone confidence.”

A Meydan FEI Nations Cup event is organized as a five-star Nations Cup, a competition in which official teams representing nations compare their merit. At each event, the teams gain points according to their placing. At the end of the season the team with the highest points wins the Meydan FEI Nations Cup.

For complete results, visit the Web site: www.meydanfeinationscup.org

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