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BURBANK – 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, putting on a dominant display at the California Dreaming Productions’ Mid-Winter Dressage Fair CDI-W/Y/J/U-25, held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

The pair earned a unanimous victory from all five judges in the Grand Prix Special on Feb. 22, and they finished the Mid Winter Dressage as the FEI High Percentage Champions with 76.540. Guenter Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea, a 14-year-old Westfalen mare (Weinberg x Si Jolie by Saluut) owned by Coral Reef Ranch of Rancho Santa Fe, was reserve in the FEI division at 72.784.

In the Grand Prix Special, Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea threw down the gauntlet with a lovely performance in the challenging 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.

Reflecting on progress made since Legolas made his international competition debut at the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair two years ago, Peters was 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.

Brian Hafner and Lombardo LHF won the World Cup Freestyle Sunday in the finale to the inaugural California Dreaming Productions program.

The rider from Penngrove and the Hanoverian gelding (Londonderry x Werther) posted a personal best of 69.650 per cent on the horse that he rode in medal-winning performances at the 2009 North American Young Rider Championships. Lombardo is now 15 years old.

The pair was the only starting combination in the Freestyle and performed to music from the movie “Iron Man 3″ that Hafner said suited the powerful Lombardo with its “dramatic and masculine feel.”

Hafner, who placed third in the Grand Prix on Friday, is seeking to qualify among the top 15 horse and rider combinations to compete in the U.S. National Championships in Gladstone, N.J., in June. He recently received a $25,000 Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize to train in Europe.

“I know how rare it is that a Young Rider horse goes on to the large tour successfully, and it’s quite amazing to have this opportunity,” he said. “We’ve been together for a long time, and I appreciate the relationship I have with him. I’m realizing how lucky I am.”

The efforts by the California Dreaming Productions team of long-time show organizer Glenda McElroy and Grand Prix riders and trainers David and Alisa Wilson of Chino Hills won enthusiastic support from competitors of all levels.

“I just loved it,” said multi-Olympian Günter Seidel of Cardiff. “Even coming in on the first day, it was exciting and there was a buzz in the air because things were different. The little extras mean a lot. I hope more and more people will come out and support this, because we have great quality here, and with super shows like this close to home there’s no reason to leave and compete elsewhere.”

“We know that exhibitors come to horse shows to ride and compete, but we also wanted to provide an exciting and enjoyable atmosphere for them to spend their weekend,” said co-organizer David Wilson. “We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we’ve received from competitors, owners, and sponsors, as well as spectators from around the world who watched the CDI rides on our CDP Live webpage. Thank you to everyone, and we can’t wait for the next show.”

The next competitions will be the Capistrano Dressage International World Cup event March 22-24 at Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano.

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