Wellington, FL – Fifteen horse and rider combinations went to task Friday afternoon in the WDM Nürnberger Grand Prix, the first leg of the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach presented by Wellington Classic Dressage. Earning the top spot on day one was Patrik Kittel and Watermill Scandic HBC at the only North American stop in the World Dressage Masters Series presented by the Axel Johnson Group. The Swedish pair was awarded a score of 77.681% by the Ground Jury of Stephen Clarke, Isabel Judet, Gary Rockwell, Lois Yukins and Hans Christian Matthe. Leading the U.S. effort was Steffen Peters and Legolas 92, scoring 75.149% for third place.
Kittel was making his first appearance at the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach presented by Wellington Classic Dressage but has already competed in Florida in 2013. He was not only pleased with his horse’s effort but also the atmosphere of the competition.
“To come here last week and do a show, he was perfect today. It was my best ride with this horse by far,” said the Swedish Olympian. “We’ve been treated really well here and the crowd is great.”
Placing second in the WDM Nürnberger Grand Prix was Kittel’s Swedish teammate Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfve with Don Auriello. The pair who has spent many winters in Florida scored 76.851%.
“Florida has been very important for Don Auriello; he’s had some great starts here,” said Vilhelmson-Silfve. “I would have liked to have won but if I have to be beaten I’m glad it was Patrik.”
Peters (San Diego, CA) entered the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center as the two time defending World Dressage Masters Palm Beach champion but was riding Legolas 92 in the competition for the first time. Four Winds Farm’s 11-year-old Westphalian gelding demonstrated masterful trotwork highlighted by outstanding piaffe and passage. A few bobbles in the canterwork kept the pair from achieving a higher mark.
“It’s very exciting. It was the first time for a young kid and I was a bit concerned about the atmosphere but he was great. Unfortunately, he had to go to the bathroom in the (canter) zig-zag, so there was a mistake,” said Peters of the 2012 USEF National Grand Prix Dressage Champion. “I was really happy that he stayed as relaxed as he did.”
Peters is looking forward to tomorrow’s Freestyle and for the first time in many years, following the retirement of longtime partner Ravel, does not enter as the winner from the previous day.
“I’m looking forward to the Freestyle,” said the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Bronze medalist. “It feels nice to be the underdog again. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”
Placing fourth and as the second highest placing U.S. pair was Heather Blitz (Wellington, FL) and her 2011 Pan American Games Team Gold and Individual Silver medalist, Paragon. The 10-year-old Danish Warmblood, owned by Blitz, demonstrated an added maturity from the previous year to score 74.064%.
The World Dressage Masters Palm Beach presented by Wellington Classic Dressage concludes tomorrow with the WDM Grand Prix Special and WDM Freestyle.
The WDM Grand Prix Special and WDM Freestyle will both be live-streamed on the USEFNetwork.com presented by Smartpak. The WDM Grand Prix Special begins at 2pm ET and competition gets underway at 7:30pm ET in the WDM Freestyle. To watch these classes as well as see Video on Demand from the WDM Nürnberger Grand Prix and check out photos and news from the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach presented by Wellington Classic Dressage, visit: http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2013WorldDressageMasters/.
By Helen Murray
For more information about the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach presented by Wellington Classic Dressage, visit: http://www.worlddressagemasters.com/archives/event/wdm-palm-beach-2013.
Follow the 2013 U.S Dressage Team here.