August 2015 - Winner's Circle
Written by CRM
Monday, 03 August 2015 19:58

U.S. Dressage Is Ready For Rio!

The United States Dressage Team bid a fond farewell to the Pan American Games as they departed the Caledon Equestrian Park in Ontario, Canada, with Team Gold medals, an Individual Gold medal for Steffen Peters and Legolas 92, an Individual Silver medal for Laura Graves and Verdades, and a 2016 Olympic Games berth in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The week was marked by team success, invaluable experience, and ambitious optimism about the future.
Peters and Graves’ teammates in earning team gold before the Individual competition were Los Angeles-based Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo and Kimberly Herslow and Rosmarin.

Decorated American dressage athlete Peters and Four Winds Farm’s Legolas 92 performed the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle with their usual skill, expression, and excellence, earning a huge score of 80.075%. Speaking to the highlights of the test, Peters said “He kept the cadence from the passage and the piaffe felt huge, the passage in the half-pass felt just as big as the half-passes on the straight line, his changes were clean, and he did not make a mistake - that in itself is a huge highlight for Legolas.”

Peters and Legolas 92 have the distinction of earning both Team and Individual Gold medals at these games. In addition, Peters won the Team and Individual Gold medals at the 2011 Pan American Games on Weltino’s Magic. FEI World Equestrian Games and FEI World Cup Final veterans, Peters and Legolas 92 are beacons of U.S. dressage achievement.

“I had to work today, he was very relaxed, and I gave it all,” said Peters. “This is just like the Olympic Games, there is no difference. From this morning, I had that mindset - we have to do this, we have to bring it home. Legolas gave it his all; he was just as good [today] as he was in the Grand Prix on the first day [Saturday]. What an awesome feeling, I am so extremely proud of him. For him to finish the season like this, it is just fantastic.”

The final combination to appear in Individual competition was the consistently successful team of Graves and her own Verdades. Always competitive in the best of company, they performed with characteristic accuracy and animation to achieve a score of 79.825% and earn the Individual Silver medal. The pair has had a career of ascending success including a fourth place team finish at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and a fourth-place individual finish at the 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Finals.

Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover praised the efforts of his human and equine athletes and is excited about their prospects.

“I could not be more thrilled and proud of my riders and everybody that contributed - their horses are obviously incredible. I am very hopeful that the depth in our country will continue improving and will be prepared to contend for a medal in Rio [at the Olympic Games].”

Canada’s Chris Von Martels and Zilverstar earned the Individual Bronze medal with a score of 79.500%.

Edited USEF press release.

Richard Spooner of USA riding Chivas Z. Photo ©Spruce Meadows Media Services.

Spooner At Spruce

Richard Spooner jumped to victory aboard his own Chivas Z in the $85,000 ASHCOR Technologies Cup during the Pan American Tournament, presented by Rolex, at Spruce Meadows. The July 10 competition also included a $34,000 Friends of the Meadows 1.45m competition, during which familiar West Coast circuit star Eduardo Menezes of Brazil won aboard Carushka 2.

Guilherme Jorge of Brazil set the 1.55m track for the 43 starters in the $85,000 ASHCOR Technologies Cup. Fifteen entries jumped clear over the first round course and 14 returned for round two. Speed was key for a win over Jorge’s jump-off track, but rails fell for many entries on the way to the finish line, and only four combinations cleared the short course without fault. Spooner and Chivas Z, a 16-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Cumano x Lord Gotthard), crossed the timers in 36.97 seconds for the win despite an unconventional finish.

“The jump-off started off fantastic actually and ended with a major chocolate chip,” Spooner laughed. “I absolutely missed to the last jump. I wanted to do one less stride, and then at the last minute I realized that there was a snowball’s chance in hell that we were going to get there. I just kind of dropped the reins and closed my eyes, hoped for the best and sat back so that if something bad happened I wasn’t the first person at the scene of the accident. Somehow he jumped it clear and we were fast enough in the beginning that even with the debacle in the end, we ended up with the win.”

Hardin Towell (USA) and Jennifer Gates’ Emilie de Diamant AS finished second in 39.15 seconds. Reed Kessler (USA) and Kessler Show Stables’ Cylana placed third in 40.78 seconds, and Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) and Mario Onate’s Whin Whin took fourth with a time of 42.74 seconds. Coming in fifth, McLain Ward (USA) and Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z had the fastest time of the day in 36.63 seconds, but dropped a rail at the last jump.

Edited press release provided by Spruce Meadows.

Marc Grock and Caretol - winners of GP. Photo ©McCool Photography

Marc Grock is Back!

Celebrating the first day of summer in style, the Blenheim EquiSports June Classic III show culminated with the $30,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix. In a stellar return to the Grand Prix stage, Marc Grock rode Jerrie Calandra’s Caretol to a decisive win in a thrilling jump-off.

With a talented field of riders, several with two or more mounts, FEI course designer Catsy Cruz of Mexico designed a challenging yet inviting track to accommodate a mix of veterans and relatively new horses and riders.

Twenty-eight horse and rider combinations galloped onto the field including June Classic I Grand Prix winner Josephina Nor Lantzman, Spring Classic II Grand Prix Winner Lane Clarke, Paso Robles Grand Prix Winner Lauren Hester, hotshot Kristin Hardin, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin with her newest rides, Michelle Parker competing on two of her Cross Creek Farm mounts, young and talented Zazou Hoffman, Northern California trainers Maja Lindemann, Jeffrey Fields, Mattias Ekeroth and more.

Kicking off the jump-off in speedy style, Kristin Hardin aboard Nicole Teague’s Firestone went clean and set the pace by stopping the clock in 43.74. Maja Lindemann answered that challenge by going clean on Wulfric (Nicola MacMahon, owner) in 43.72, just barely taking the lead.

Josephina Nor Lantzman was also clean on her newest horse Unlimited in 44.99, not quite fast enough to take the lead. Next in, Marc Grock riding Jerrie Calandra’s Caretol, picked up a strong pace and never looked back. Shaving almost a second off Lindemann’s leading time, Grock stopped the clock in 42.90. Five more competitors attempted but none could match the gallant effort made by Grock.

Beaming with pride and admiration for both his sponsor and his horse, Grock was ecstatic. “You know, I just want to say ‘thank you’ to my sponsor Jerrie Calandra. I have a group of horses that are amazing. And it means a lot to me,” he said, and continued on about Caretol. “We bought him from Ludger Beerbaum. He’s eleven years old and I’ve had him a little less than a year. He’s not a beauty queen, but he’s the sweetest horse on the planet. He has jumped more clean rounds than many horses I’ve had over my lifetime. He tries every single class.”

In addition to all the gratitude, Grock was truly glad to be in the winners circle after a number of years, and having competed against some top show jumpers. “It’s nice. It’s been really fun to have a special horse like this. Especially when the sport is really driven by younger individuals now. I didn’t think that I would really be able to have a shot at it again. It’s a completely different sport than when I did it before, it’s been a big learning curve,” he explained. “This is my first Grand Prix win with him and my first Grand Prix win in years.”

Edited press release provided by Blenheim EquiSports.

Peterbilt is Back!

The heat was on at the Bay Area Festival, June 24-28, when seven horses and riders returned for the jump off for the Bayfest Grand Prix. Guy Thomas, who is thrilled to have Peterbilt (Peterbilt LLC, owner) back in the show ring, left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he and the spectacular bay stallion are a force to contend with. Guy started off with a bold pace, and after dropping down the double drop at the bank, he found the water jump out of a bold gallop. They sped through the double in the grob and showed their turning ability after the triple bar. Their final gallop to the oxer in front of the Carousel Club stopped the timers in 44.913 and no one could touch them.

“In a jump off like that with seven horses and fast riders like Macella O’Neill and Daniel Zilla behind me, I knew I had to put the pressure on them to try to catch me,” Guy recounted. “Fortunately, I know Peterbilt so well I knew I could take a chance from 1 to 2. I saw the first rider do it in 7 strides and knew I could do 6 and leave it up.”

Robert Blanchette aboard his Lazur slipped into second with a bold jump off that stopped the timers in 47.769. Daniel Zilla gave it his all with Venice B (Branscomb Farm LLC, owner) and finished third with a time of 47.803. Amateur rider Blake Gardner aboard his own Cyrus rounded out the top four with at time of 48.158.

“I watched Macella’s and Daniel’s rounds because I know they can be quick but I felt I had given them a challenge to really make them go for it and possibly make a mistake,” Guy added. “They were about three seconds slower, and I hadn’t realized I was quite that quick.”

Despite bold riding from each of the riders, Horse Park-based Guy held onto his spot at the top of the leader board to the delight of the hometown crowd and Peterbilt’s owners. “It makes it really special to win something like this when the owners can be there to see it,” Guy mused. “I really enjoying showing here at the Horse Park. It’s a nice facility, and the owners being able to be here makes it all the better.”

Edited press release provided by LEG Up News.

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