June 8, 2012 -- Over the next two weeks a total of six USEF National Dressage Champions will be crowned, along with the U.S. Dressage Team taking a step closer to the London Olympic Games. The first week of the 2012 USEF Dressage Festival of Champions got underway Friday with the Veterinary Inspections and all 47 horses were deemed fit and sound to compete. Competitors in the Grand Prix, Young Rider, Junior Rider and Pony Rider division will compete June 9-10 in the Dick and Jane Brown Dressage Arena at the historic USET Foundation Headquarters.
National Grand Prix Dressage Championship
In addition to crowning a National Champion, the Grand Prix division also serves as the USEF Dressage Selection Trial for the US Dressage Team for the 2012 Olympic Games. These horses and riders will compete this weekend and return to the Brown Arena June 15th and 16th to conclude their competition. Both weekends they will contest the FEI Grand Prix Test and the FEI Olympic Grand Prix Test, with the score from each test counting towards 25% of the overall average.
A strong-field of 15 line-up to compete in the Grand Prix, including the four U.S. team members from the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games; Steffen Peters, Tina Konyot, Katherine Bateson-Chandler, and Todd Flettrich.
Konyot is pleased to be back at the venue where she claimed the National Grand Prix Dressage Championship in 2010.
"It's beautiful and it's just an honor to be here. It's a great venue and a wonderful competition." Konyot also believes her 2010 National Champion, Calecto V, is poised for another good performance in Gladstone. "He feels great and he's in great shape."
Peters will be looking to defend his 2011 National Champion title that he won with longtime partner Ravel. This year he rides Four Winds Farm's Legolas 92.
To learn more about the field in the National Grand Prix Championship visit www.usefnetwork.com
National Young Rider Dressage Championship
The top Young Riders in country have travelled to Gladstone to stake their claim on National Champion honors. The 12 combinations will ride the FEI Young Rider Team Test on Saturday and return to the ring Sunday to contest the FEI Young Rider Individual Test, with both test counting towards 50% of the overall average.
Brandi Roenick (San Diego, Calif.) makes a return trip the to Festival of Champions after claiming Reserve Champion honors in this division last year. She will once again ride her 2011 runner-up Pretty Lady, as she looks to go one better this weekend.
In 2012, Rachel Chowanec makes the step up to the Young Rider ranks after a successful Junior campaign. In 2011, Chowanec claimed Reserve Champion honors in the National Junior Dressage Championship. She will again ride Lendon Gray's Embrujado XI.
National Junior Dressage Championship
The National Junior Dressage Championship draws a field of 12 that will perform the FEI Junior Team Test and the FEI Junior Individual Test over the weekend. Just as with the Young Riders, a Junior National Champion will be crowned by averaging the two scores.
Anna Campbell is no stranger to USEF National Dressage Championship competition, having won the 2010 USEF Dressage Seat Equitation Medal Final in the 13 and under division. Campbell will ride Rachel Campbell's Wandango 12 in Gladstone.
The 19-year-old Westphalian gelding, Montfleury, returns to the Festival of Champions having competed in the Junior Championship in 2011. In 2012, Grace Goodby's gelding will be ridden by Ariel Thomas.
National Pony Rider Dressage Championship
In 2011, the National Pony Rider Dressage Championship was held for the first time. This year, the division has seen an increase in competitors and will host eight combinations. The FEI Pony Team Test will account for half the score while the FEI Pony Individual Test will make up the remainder.
2011's Reserve Champion from this division, Bebe Davis, returns this year with an eye on Champion honors. She will ride Michael Davis' Bohdjan and Poldy 10.
The Nowak twins, Kristen and Nicole, make their first trip to the USEF Dressage Festival of Champions this year to compete in the Pony Rider division. Kristen will be riding Ciara Cummiskey's Queen's Faithfully, while Nicole rides Andra Collin's Queen's Cultured Pearl.
All competitors in the Pony Rider division are excited to be part of such a world-class competition.
"It's incredible to be here with all the professionals. It's just a great experience," said Kristen Nowak, "I'm really looking forward to watching the Grand Prix tomorrow and seeing all the professionals."
Competition gets underway on Saturday at 8am ET with the Grand Prix Test.
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