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Anna Buffini and Sundayboy

Anna Buffini and Sundayboy

Susan J. Stickle photo

GLADSTONE, N.J. – The U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp came to an exciting conclusion June 15 as Grand Prix, Intermediaire I, and Pony Rider Champions were all crowned. In the Grand Prix championship, Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 clinched their third consecutive National Title with their best performance of the week. For the third consecutive test, the top placings remained the same as Peters scored Champion and Reserve honors in The Dutta Corp/USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship.

Peters, of San Diego, entered the arena Sunday like a man on a mission to not only add another Grand Prix National title to his resume but also to ride a completely clean test.

In both the Grand Prix Test and Grand Prix Special, Four Winds Farm’s 12-year-old Westphalian gelding displayed quality work but suffered a few mistakes in the two tests. In the Freestyle, the 2012 and 2013 National Champions performed their best test of the week to score 79.700% and win the class on their way to claiming their third consecutive title on a championship score of 76.036%.

Peters will spend the next two months competing in Europe as he looks to represent the U.S. at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France this summer.

“I would have loved to have that last one-tempi but the rest felt right on,” said Peters of his Freestyle. “There’s a bit of a different warm-up and I hope we can maintain that until August.”

Laura Graves of Florida and her own Verdades were second on a score of 78.425% in their second-ever Grand Prix Freestyle. The pair also captured the Reserve honors with a championship score of 74.226% in only their first year competing on the Big Tour.

Finishing third in the Freestyle were Jan Ebeling of Moorpark and Beth Meyer, Ann Romney, and Amy Ebeling’s 17-year-old Oldenburg mare, Rafalca, on a score of 76.900%. The London Olympic Games veterans also placed third in the overall championship on a score of 74.143%.

Just in time for her 20th birthday present, Anna Buffini from Escondido was named the AGCO/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Champion at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions. Buffini captured both legs of the Young Rider event with Sundayboy, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, with an overall average score of 73.408 percent. She is the second-oldest of an athletic group of six children. Her father, Brian, was a soccer star in his native Ireland, and her mother, Beverly, competed on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Volleyball Team.

Before becoming a young rider, Buffini was a competitive gymnast, eyeing the Olympics. She left the sport after nine years,and after tyring other sports, she found a passion for dressage.

“I knew instantly that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she said. In her 11th year of dressage, Buffini’s short-term goals include competing this summer in the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships.

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