March 24, 2015--The final list for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Finals has been posted, and there are a few changes from the roster we put up yesterday.
The American entry remains the same, with Steffen Peters (Legolas) and Laura Graves (Verdades) getting the nod.
Horses are unpredictable; there's no such thing as a sure thing. But Steffen and Legolas came as close to expectations as anyone could when they won the final qualifier Sunday in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Steffen just had two chances to qualify, and he made the most of both, earning an 80.875 percent average to lead the North American League after scoring an 80.925 percent victory in his second effort.
Legolas is on the high-strung side, and only a master rider like Steffen could tame that dragon and get the most out of him. The ambiance at the Thomas & Mack Center could supercharge Legolas, as Steffen well knows, since he won the 2009 finals on Ravel before an energetic crowd. It will be interesting to see Legolas' reaction in the tight confines of the arena, where it feels to riders as if the audience is right on top of them.
Laura finished her qualifying earlier this month with an average of 79.237 percent. Can't wait to watch how this accomplished rider and her equine partner do against the European bigshots. Don't forget, she was fifth, surprising everyone, at the World Equestrian Games last year.
The FEI handed out extra starting places yesterday, based on qualifying scores and world rankings, to U.S.-based Danish rider Lars Petersen with Marriett, third in the standings on 76.825. His U.S.-based countrywoman, Mikala Munter Gundersen, also got a ticket with the lovely My Lady. Mikala is very excited to be in her second finals, and understands she won't be in the very top group. But her goal is to make a good showing, and there's no doubt this composed lady and the talented mare will do that.
Anyway, with Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro coming from Great Britain to defend her 2014 title, it's guaranteed that the finals will be an occasion to remember. And you can bet she is going to win. (Don't mean that literally. I know there's going to be gambling available on the Olympics; not sure if that extends to the World Cup...)
No extra U.S. citizens were awarded spots (wouldn't it be nice to have a wild card for the home team?) But extra starting places were given to Tehri Stegars (Axis) of Finland, and Inessa Merkulova of Russia on the very interesting Mister X, who you'll remember from the WEG. She joins her countrywomen, Elena Sidneva (Romeo Star) and Tatiana Dorofeeva (Kartsevo Upperville) from the Central European League.
The Western European League remains as it was when we wrote about it earlier this month, with the exception of Sweden's Malin Hamilton (Fleetwood), replacing the Netherlands' Danielle Heijkoop (Siro).