Wellington, FL - March 11, 2011 - In the second day of competition at the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach, history was made in the Grand Prix Special as Michal Rapcewicz of Poland claimed the first victory ever for his country at a CDI5* event. Riding Randon, the same horse with which he competed at the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and World Cup Dressage Finals, Rapcewicz improved significantly on his Grand Prix result of the previous day. His score of 69.771% in the Grand Prix Special put him on top of the international field of European, American and Canadian competitors.
"This is an amazing feeling, to be breaking a record for Poland," said Rapcewicz after the prize giving ceremony. "Today I am really proud of my horse. He really enjoyed all the exercises. The weather is great and not too hot, which kept him fresh." Randon showed particular highlights in the most difficult movements of the Grand Prix: the passage, piaffe and one tempi flying changes.
Rapcewicz is no stranger to the World Dressage Masters presented by Axel Johnson Group, which is the world's most prestigious and richest dressage series, and the only five star dressage competition in North America. Following the 2010 WDM season, Rapcewicz sits second on the Nürnberger WDM Rider Ranking list, but this is his first visit to the WDM Palm Beach. "Palm Beach is like a small paradise for horses,"he said. "I have had a holiday here and won a big competition too. It's like a big dream, and I don't want to wake up."
Following closely on Rapcewicz's heels in the Grand Prix Special was Pierre St. Jacques of Anthony, Florida, who earned 69.417% with his 16 year old Danish Warmblood gelding Lucky Tiger. This was St. Jacques' second WDM Palm Beach appearance, having competed at the 2010 event. "I'm so ecstatic with my horse," he said. "It's wonderful to ride with this electricity and crowd. My horse showed up for his job today, and he was very fun to ride." Fellow American Shawna Harding of Aiken, South Carolina placed third on her 12 year old Danish Warmblood gelding Come On III, with a score of 68.958%. She was pleased not only with her horse's performance, but also with her first WDM Palm Beach experience. "The organizers have been fantastic with everything we need," said Harding, "and the footing is spectacular. I am excited to be part of the Masters for the first time."
The WDM Palm Beach was nearly cancelled in 2011, but thanks to the immediate commitment of presenting sponsor International Polo Club Palm Beach and show producer Wellington Classic Dressage, the show has not only gone on - it's done so in great style. "It was an incredible roller coaster ride from the end of November until now," says WDM Managing Director John Van de Laar. "We have to thank the dressage community in South Florida and the rest of the United States, the presenting sponsor and organizer, as well as Akiko Yamazaki and Steffen Peters," he said. "For such a wonderful competition to have been produced in such a short window of time is incredible. It's a wonder we have this show."
A total of 100,000 Euros will be given out at the 2011 WDM Palm Beach presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach, 60,000 of which will be awarded at tonight's Grand Prix Freestyle. Eight of the world's top riders and their horses will perform uniquely choreographed programs set to music while a sold out audience of 1,200 enjoys the culture, cuisine and wine of France at ringside. The last pair to enter the arena this evening will be yesterday's Grand Prix winners, Olympian Steffen Peters of San Diego, California and Ravel, whose score of 80.872% represented a personal best in the pair's FEI career.
Eurosport Events is the official broadcaster of the World Dressage Masters series, and will show highlights from the Grand Prix Freestyle as part of "Wednesday Selection", a weekly prime-time program that features equestrian among other sports, such as sailing and golf. The USEF provided a live webcast of Friday's Grand Prix Special and will have live coverage of the Grand Prix Freestyle beginning at 7:30 pm EST this evening. Following the completion of the WDM Palm Beach, the USEF coverage will be available on demand at http://www.usefnetwork.com/WDM2011.
World Dressage Masters Palm Beach CDI5*
Grand Prix Special Results
1. Michal Rapcewicz (POL) - Randon 69.771%
2. Pierre St Jacques (USA) - Lucky Tiger 69.417%
3. Shawna Harding (USA) - Come On III 68.958%
4. Elisabeth Austin (USA) - Olivier 66.854%
5. Gary Vander Ploeg (CAN) - Cezanne 64.563%
6. Jacqueline Brooks (CAN) - Gran Gesto 63.750%
7. Yvonne Losos de Muñiz (DOM) - Dondolo Las Marismas 62.313%
8. Valentina Truppa (ITA) - Chablis 62.125%
9. Shannon Dueck (CAN) - Ayscha 61.125%