January 27, 2012 -- Before a packed house at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, defending champions Steffen Peters and Ravel earned the first victory of the 2012 World Dressage Masters Palm Beach CDI4* presented by the International Polo Club Palm scoring 81.383% in the process.
The marquis event brought some of the very best from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and Charlotte Dujardin, from Great Britain, made a hard charge at the victory with Valegro scoring 78.468 %. But Peters never flinched in the pressure of being the final rider in the ring. He impressed the judges (and gave the crowd what they came for).
"Sometimes it's a little hard to put it into words," said Peters after his ride. "First I have to give a big thank you to my buddy Ravel, it's a personal best for us. It's amazing to think he keeps getting better after all these years."
Recently crowned USEF Equestrian of the Year for the third time after Team and Individual Gold at the 2011 Pan American Games Peters continues to up his game. With Ravel he has forged a tremendous partnership over the last four years.
"It's really exciting," said Peters. "This feeling I had with Ravel tonight, I have had this for the last couple of weeks now. I had to risk it a bit more obviously. He feels stronger than last year, a bit more supple and he was beautiful in the bridle."
Akiko Yamazaki and Four Winds Farm's Ravel looked relaxed and confident in the venue that he owned last year - sweeping to victory. The 14-year-old KWPN gelding has matured into one of the most venerable forces on the dressage circuit since his Olympic debut in 2008. Peters (San Diego, Calif.) left nothing in the arena, his half-passes were phenomenal in the opening trot work pushing him over the 84% mark. He backed it up with a relaxed free walk, a stellar canter tour, especially his one-tempi changes.
"He's getting consistently better," said Peters. "It is silly for me to ask for more. We have a great management team behind us. I couldn't ask for more."
Dujardin, who was on the 2011 Gold medal-winning FEI European Championship team - has enjoyed her first trip to West Palm Beach. A few mistakes marred a test that showed tremendous promise.
"He's young and he's still learning," said Charlotte. "I have to forgive him for those mistakes."
Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Favourit were third for Sweden on 73.255%. Vilhelmson-Silfven is based in Florida for the winter months.
Adrienne Lyle (Ketchum, Idaho) rode with tremendous maturity on Parry & Peggy Thomas' Wizard in?her first World Dressage Masters. They finished fourth in a very polished effort showing the proof of their practice over the last year. They scored 72.149% for a fourth place finish and were the second highest placed Americans.
"I think we had so many good horses in this class," said Gary Rockwell, the Judge at C tonight (Stephen Clark is the President of the Ground Jury). "The class was good, the horses were good and it makes it easier for us."
The competition continues on Saturday, the Grand Prix Freestyle will be the showcase, with eight horses from the Grand Prix taking the stage at 7:30 PM. The Grand Prix Special kicks off Saturday's action at 2 PM. It will all be live on the USEFNetwork.com presented by SmartPak.
The event was downgraded from a CDI5* to a CDI4* on Thursday night, based on a technicality in the eligibility of some of the horses invited. Please read the complete explanation here: http://www.usefnetwork.com/news/8024/2012/1/27/schedule_change_at_world_dressage_m.aspx