In the closest of finishes, the USA’s Steffen Peters on Ravel edged Charlotte Dujardin aboard Valegro for the World Dressage Masters freestyle title, with only 0.05% separating the two on Saturday night.
The competition, worth 70,000 Euros, was the highlight of the 100,000 Euro competition in Wellington, Florida.
Three of the five judges had Steffen, the 2011 winner, in first place, while two put Charlotte in the lead. Steffen’s mark was 83.700; Charlotte’s was 83.650.
Wim Ernes, president of the ground jury, said the difference was the complexity of Steffen’s routine. But he was impressed by the effort both riders made.
“It was a real high standard today. You could see they went to the limit,” he said.
Charlotte acknowledged that her freestyle, despite its dynamism, was relatively simple because it had been designed when her horse was less experienced. She’s having both the music and freestyle’s floor plan re-done, she said.
Losing by such a slim margin “is a bit frustrating,” she conceded, then added, “I’m pleased with how he went. There were still a few little mistakes, but it’s great to have such strong competition. I was happy with my test, and that’s all that matters, really.”
She was particularly glad that after Valegro uncharacteristically acted up in the prize giving for the previous day’s grand prix, when he reared, he was back on track as he went into the covered arena at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center for the freestyle. A capacity crowd of more than 1,700 did not upset him, and he was very correct and powerful in most of his movements.
Ravel is far more experienced, having participated in the Olympics and World Equestrian Games, so he flowed easily through the complex exercises under Steffen’s practiced guidance.
Charlotte’s mentor, Carl Hester, put in a riveting ride on Wie Atlantico, using one of his old freestyles, since he had never shown the horse before this weekend. He’s riding him for the pregnant Fiona Bigwood.
A brilliant extended canter was one of the highlights, and the horse never wavered in his attention.
“I was delighted with the ride. It was better than yesterday (the grand prix). I don’t think I could have done any more with the amount of time I’ve had,” said Carl, who was fourth on 74.850. Third place went to Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfve riding Favourit, on a score of 78.250.
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