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Host Britain upends medal hopes for U.S. and Ravel

By SHANNON BRINKMAN - August 16th, 2012 - Show & Event News

GREENWICH, UK — When the equestrian competition at the 2012 Olympic Games ended Aug. 9, the U.S. medal drought had continued. Steffen Peters and Ravel carried the weight of a nation into main arena for the Freestyle, which would determine the Individual medals, and the most consistently clutch combination in U.S. Dressage history didn’t have the day they were hoping for.

Great Britain did.

Charlotte Dujardin scored a historic 90.089 percent on Valegro to win Individual Gold on the heels of the Team Gold she scored earlier in the week. That Gold was the first dressage medal ever won by Great Britain, Dujardin and teammate Laura Bechtolsheimer (on Mistral Hojris), who won Bronze, tripled that count in one afternoon. Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival scored Silver for The Netherlands.

Ravel, who has been so reliable through the last four years, was visibly distracted during his test. Mistakes meant the mark suffered at 77.268%. This horse’s resume is clearly so much stronger. The 14-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Four Winds Farm was fourth individually at the 2008 Olympic Games, he won the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Final, the 2009 Aachen CDIO, won two Bronze medals at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and has twice been the USEF National Grand Prix Dressage Champion. He’s a modern day legend for the American sport.

But Aug. 9 was not his day.

“I had a super warm-up but he was definitely a bit distracted,” said Peters. “He kept looking around in the trot extensions and the canter extensions. If you remember Ravel for his career and you put it all together – this is just a little glitch today.”

“He’s an extremely generous horse and one of the best horses anyone could ever ride,” added Peters, from San Diego. “This is it for him. Unfortunately this is it for him and that is why it is so sad that it didn’t work out today. It just wasn’t a good freestyle and it wasn’t the way I wanted to finish this.”

For Peters, the disappointment was made greater by the fact that he and Ravel’s owners, Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang, have made the difficult decision to retire their wonderful horse.

“It is very sad that it happened at the end of his career, but I still love him,” said Peters. “He has given us so much just not quite today… he was just distracted in there.”

There were some wonderful moments in Ravel’s work, as always, and the level of difficulty, including the two-time changes on a circle, which Peters said they had just added. He finished his test with riding passage with one hand.

“He owes us nothing,” said Peters of Ravel. “We owe him everything.”

On Tuesday, it was an historic day at Greenwich Park. Less than 24 hours after the British Show Jumping Team won it’s first Olympic Team Gold medal in 60 years, the British Dressage Team won it’s first Olympic medal ever, and it was Gold. They finished on a score of 79.979 to win Gold over Germany. The Netherlands won Bronze.The U.S. Dressage Team made a valiant run at a Team medal at Greenwich Park with some strong performances, but it simply wasn’t to be and they ended up sixth on a score of 72.435, behind Great Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Denmark.

Peters had led the way for Team USA scoring 76.254% to place seventh overall in the Grand Prix Special with Ravel. Peters did everything he could to fight back into Team contention.
One mishap marred an otherwise lovely effort by the veteran pair in the Grand Prix Special, when Ravel stumbled at the end of the test after the first canter pirouette meaning he started his one-time changes late. Peters managed to pull off the movement despite the mis-step.

“Without that (stumble), it would have been right around a 78% — which is right about where he has been in this test his whole life,” said Peters.

The rest of the Tuesday test was textbook Ravel. The veteran went to work and moved through the test with ease.

“He was right on,” said Peters. “The half-passes felt great, I pushed the changes a bit more than I did the first day and the pirouettes felt really good. The piaffe even felt better than it did the first day. I’m just so excited that he still wants to do it after all these years.”

Tina Konyot of Florida preceded Peters into the ring on Calecto V. This pair have had a long career together and although they have a great track record, a few small mistakes kept them from the scores of which they are capable. The 14-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion, co-owned by John Byrialsen, suffered from a mistake in the one-tempi changes and a transition from piaffe to passage that wasn’t as good as Calecto’s capabilities. They scored 70.651% for 25th place.

“We had some mistakes but there were some very nice things,” said a visibly disappointed Konyot after her test.

Jan Ebeling of Moorpark got the day started on Amy Ebeling, Beth Meyer and Ann Romney’s 14-year-old Oldenburg mare, Rafalca. They put in another consistent effort, scoring 69.302% for their lead-off test.

Because of the involvement of Romney, whose husband Mitt is making a presidential bid, Rafalca and Ebeling were at the center of a flurry of media attention for the sport of dressage. Ebeling is pleased with the fact that the profile is on the rise.

“I think having Mrs. Romney and having a the visibility of the mainstream media report on our sport so much has really been a good thing,” said Ebeling. “If just one young kid picks up riding and makes it to the Olympics, hey, I’ve done my job.”

More online: See website http://bit.ly/28B_Oly

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