June 28, 2008 -- There was no one busier than Steffen Peters at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions today and he saved his best performance for last. Peters rode Ravel to win the third leg of the USEF National Grand Prix Dressage Championship (which also serves as the USEF Selection Trial for Dressage) with a score of 75.25%. The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding continues to impress everyone on hand at The Oaks Blenheim facility. In a test highlighted by powerful passage, fluid changes and excellent transitions, Ravel continued to show class beyond his years.
"Again I'm very, very happy with Ravel," said Peters. "Every single second there was relaxation and suppleness. It went so well I just trusted him a little too much in that last piaffe, but I'm just beside myself."
Owned by Aikiko Yamazaki, Ravel has been undefeated in 2008 and doesn't look to be in danger of breaking his streak. Peters will ride a new freestyle tomorrow with Ravel, he hopes that his winning roll will continue.
"He's just there where I want him for tomorrow," said Peters. "He was very relaxed today and this is the first time I will try the new freestyle at a show. I've tried it many times at home of course. But this will be the very first time at a show."
Peters felt the pressure for the first time throughout this championship, as Courtney King-Dye and Harmony's Mythilus put in their best performance yet to slip right behind Peters on a score of 75.20%. The New Milford, CT rider held nothing back and the 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding delivered.
"Myth was a little tired, sleepy tired, this morning," said King-Dye. "The heart that horse has, I had tears coming down my face after the test and then when they announced the score. Myth just has a heart of gold. He pushes through anything that he's feeling, he wants to be so good. I stayed on course and was able to get a good score."
Owned by Harmony's Amateur Sport Foundation, Harmony's Mythilus' dynamite performance seems to continue to improve.
"I guessed that this week would be better than last week," said King-Dye. "Last week I was a little conservative. I couldn't let his neck out and trust that I could go for it in the extensions. Today I could and I could go for it more and trust that I was not in the passenger's seat but in the driver's seat."
Peters said that this was the first time ever that two American horses had scored 75% or better in a Grand Prix.
Debbie McDonald and veteran Brentina proved that they are as consistently brilliant as always. The 17-year-old mare owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas delivered another stellar effort for a score of 73.042% to finish third by a wide margin. McDonald had a couple small mistakes in the test which she took responsibility for.
"I think the piaffe passage tour was great," said McDonald. "I made mistakes personally myself where I shouldn't have. So I'm a little mad at myself but I couldn't be happier with her. She feels so fit and so clear. It's just amazing."
The Freestyle Test counts for 10% of the final score and Ravel leads Brentina and Mythilus in the overall standings.
Two horses were withdrawn before the start of the competition. Michael Barisone withdrew Neruda from the remainder of the USEF Selection Trials for Dressage upon the recommendation of the USEF Dressage Veterinary panel. He will still be considered in the selection process and will be ranked according to the selection procedures based on the average of his qualifying scores in the Grand Prix and the Freestyle.
McDonald has withdrawn her second mount Felix from the remainder of the USEF Selection Process due to a minor injury and therefore will not be participating in the remainder of the USEF Selection Trials for Dressage.