April 7, 2005 -- R-E-S-P-E-C-T. That's exactly what Debbie McDonald earned from officials, competitors and spectators alike as she rode Brentina to victory in the 2005 U.S. Grand Prix Freestyle Championship and U.S. League Final in Burbank, Calif., April 3. Strutting through a freestyle program to the sound of Aretha Franklin, Olympic team bronze medalist McDonald and Brentina earned the winning score of 77.975 percent and a standing ovation in defending her 2004 title.
Riding her stallion Kingston, Leslie Morse claimed the second World Cup spot by scoring a 75.775 percent. Using powerful music from Pirates of the Caribbean, Morse's freestyle perfectly suited Kingston's style and presence. Placing third in the League Final was Olympic team bronze medalist Guenter Seidel and Aragon. The pair finished with a 74.425 percent.
Top ranked McDonald will join 2004 Olympic team alternate Morse in moving on to the 2005 FEI World Cup Dressage Final presented by Offield Farms, scheduled for April 20-24 in Las Vegas. Rounding out the Olympic repeat, the FEI has granted the United States two wild cards. Those will go to 2004 Olympic team bronze medalists Seidel and Robert Dover. Dover will be taking his Olympic horse, FBW Kennedy.
Watch EquiSearch April 20-24 for Nancy Jaffer's coverage of the FEI World Cup Dressage and Show Jumping Finals.