U.S. Dressage Team Moves Up Leaderboard after Second Day of Grand Prix Competition at Rio

Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 (Shannon Brinkman Photo)Shannon Brinkman Photo

The second day of dressage competition at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games had sunshine beaming down on the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center as the remaining 30 athlete-and-horse combinations took to the main arena to perform the  Grand Prix test, the first of two tests in team competition. The U.S. team, which held fourth place after the first day of competition on Wednesday, has moved into third in the team standings on an average of 76.971% after anchor riders Steffen Peters and Laura Graves performed excellent tests aboard their experienced mounts. Of the 11 nations competing in the team competition, Germany is in the lead on an average of 81.295%, while Great Britain is in second on 79.252% going into Friday’s final phase of the team competition, the Grand Prix Special.

Peters made his fourth Olympic Games appearance aboard Legolas 92, a 14-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Four Winds Farm. The pair competed during the first half of the competition on Thursday morning and performed a spectacular Grand Prix test, earning high marks from the seven-judge jury for their piaffe-passage tours, achieving a well-deserved score of 77.614%. This strong showing put them into sixth place individually going into Friday’s Grand Prix Special. “Legolas delivered everything that I dreamed of,” said a delighted and emotional Peters. “I’m just so excited that he did one of the best tests of his life – probably one of the best tests of my life – and it’s always been my dream to deliver for my team! It’s the Olympic Games and we are 90% about the Team medal and the other 10% – or maybe even less – about the Individual medal. It’s been a difficult road with him – sometimes I don’t know exactly which horse is going into the show arena, but he did not change one single bit from the warm-up arena to the show arena today, and there was not one single point that we gave away.” “Legolas’s half-passes in the trot felt amazing and the trot extensions got better, which has always been a weak point,” remarked Peters on his favorite parts of their test. “His piaffe-passage were very high today, I was able to keep the 15 steps of piaffe in place. This was the test that I dreamed of for my team. It was just one of those awesome days!”

Laura Graves and Verdades (Shannon Brinkman Photo)Shannon Brinkman Photo

Graves and her own Verdades, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding, impressed in their Olympic debut, performing an outstanding test to become the highest-placed U.S. rider with a score of 78.071%, good for fifth place individually. The pair’s fluid and powerful test earned a plethora of 8s throughout the performance, as well as several 9s for her right half-pass, left canter pirouette, and passage down the last centerline. “My horse was really super!” said a delighted Graves. “I’m very happy with the feeling he gave me today and the way the training is reflecting in the arena.” In regards to her favorite parts of her test, Graves remarked, “I’m really happy with the pirouettes and the passage-piaffe, which is a talent for this horse, but not so much in the arena when he’s not sure where to be with his big legs. I feel that’s really improved in the last two months.”

U.S. teammates Kasey Perry-Glass aboard Dublet and Allison Brock with Rosevelt put in impressive performances Wednesday, which put the U.S. into fourth place overnight. After Thursday’s competition Perry-Glass holds 17th place individually with her score of 75.229%, while Brock is in 25th place with 72.686%. “I can’t say enough good things about our team,” said Graves. “The word team has a lot of different meanings, and for us as equestrians, I think the Olympics is very special, as we have a large team of people including our trainers, friends, family, as well as each other, and I couldn’t ask to be here with a better group of people. Here we also get to be Team USA, which is also really special, and it’s definitely a memory that we’ll all have for a lifetime.” “It’s going to be a tight, tight horse race, so to speak,” commented Peters about the team standings. “Tomorrow is another day, but today I just couldn’t be happier. There’s so much comradery on our team. We’ve been training together for three months, and every day we all watch each other. It doesn’t matter if its 6:30 in the morning, every single team member is there, and it’s the same here in Rio. Every day we come to the barn and there is a big group hug. I’m just so honored to be with these talented girls as part of the team.”

The dressage team competition continues Friday with the Grand Prix Special. The top six teams from the Grand Prix will move forward to the Grand Prix Special, after which each team’s top three scores from both tests are added together to decide the Team medals. The top 18 competitors from the Grand Prix Special will go on to compete in the Individual final, the Grand Prix Freestyle, on Monday, August 15. Only three athletes from each nation are eligible compete in the Freestyle, which will ultimately decide the Olympic Champion.


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