Steffen Peters of the United States successfully defended his World Dressage Masters Palm Beach title on Saturday evening when he rode Ravel to his second consecutive Exquis Grand Prix Freestyle win. But it wasn’t an easy victory. British challengers Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro came within five one hundredths of a percentage point of toppling Peters from the center of the podium.
“I had a great night with Ravel, but I watched Charlotte after our ride,” said Peters after the awards ceremony. “When she came out of the ring I went over and said to her, ‘I think you’ve won it.’ It is exciting to be that close to another of the world’s top horses and riders.” Peters and Akiko Yamazaki’s 14 year old KWPN gelding had received a score of 83.7%, which kept them ahead of Dujardin and Valegro, a ten year old KWPN gelding owned by Carl Hester and Roly Luard, by the tiniest of margins; the British pair received 83.65% for their performance.
“I had a great ride,” said Dujardin. “Yesterday Valegro was a little bit too hot and I was hanging on for dear life, but he dealt with the atmosphere really well tonight.” Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén of Sweden rode Antonia Ax:son Johnson’s 13 year old Rheinlander gelding Favourit to 78.250% and third place from the FEI ground jury consisting of Stephen Clarke (GBR), Wim Ernes (NED), Isabelle Judet (FRA), Gary Rockwell (USA) and Lois Yukins (USA).
Saturday night’s completely sold out evening at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center was an unqualified success by all accounts. “This is the place in the world where it happens,” said Antonia Ax:son Johnson of Axel Johnson Group, presenting sponsor of the World Dressage Masters, which is the richest and most prestigious dressage series in the world. “We brought nine horses to Florida last year, and we found it’s the most wonderful place for horses and riders. We now have a farm of our own here and are residents in Wellington.”
The WDM Palm Beach would not have been possible these past two years without the generous support of International Polo Club Palm Beach, which became the presenting sponsor in 2011 of the only WDM event outside of Europe. “It was such a great night tonight,” said IPC Palm Beach founder John Goodman. “I think everyone from polo and the other disciplines learned a lot tonight. I’m just honored to be a part of it.”
Close to 2,000 people filled the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center to capacity to watch some of the world’s best dressage horses and riders perform their Grand Prix Freestyles to music. Spectators were treated to a half time laser light show from GoodWray Productions, which also provided an unprecedented level of High Definition live stream coverage which was viewed by thousands of people around the world. For those people who were unable to watch the live event, High Definition and 3D Blu-Ray DVDs can be purchased at http://www.internationalpoloclub.com/. Eurosport will also broadcast a feature about the WDM Palm Beach on the February 22nd episode of Wednesday Selection.
Results WDM Palm Beach Exquis Grand Prix Freestyle
1. Steffen Peters (USA) Ravel – 83.700%
2. Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) Valegro – 83.650%
3. Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén (SWE) Favourit – 78.250%
4. Carl Hester (GBR) Wie Atlantico – 74.850%
5. Anja Plönzke (GER) Le Mont d’Or – 74.800%
6. Tina Konyot (USA) Calecto V – 73.025%
7. Ashley Holzer (CAN) Breaking Dawn – 71.325%
8. Minna Telde (SWE) Deinhardt – 71.000%
Full results of the WDM Palm Beach can be found at http://www.worlddressagemasters.com/