Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – August 15, 2016 – The top 18 individual riders after the Grand Prix Special advanced to Monday’s Grand Prix Freestyle at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, which proved to be a very competitive field with 10 riders earning scores over 80 percent.
The United States qualified three riders for the Grand Prix Freestyle and they did not fail to impress. Laura Graves led the United States to a fourth place finish on her 14-year-old KWPN gelding Verdades with an 85.196 percent. Their freestyle, designed by Terri Ciotti Gallo, highlighted their seamless piaffe-passage transitions and a difficult movement of two tempis on a 20-meter circle before directly beginning the one tempis on a short diagonal.
“I am thrilled with the score!” Graves said. “I don’t feel like I had quite as much horse as I’ve had the past couple of days because it is very hot. Heat like this definitely takes a role in how much energy we all have. He stayed really honest and I can’t ask for more.”
She believes her system and the people she has around her all accumulated to help her find success at the Olympic Games with personal bests in all three Grand Prix divisions.
“I believe in following a routine and I believe in finding a trainer you trust and staying with them,” Graves explained. “I am so blessed that both Robert [Dover] and my personal trainer Debbie McDonald have sacrificed so much of their time this summer to be over in Europe with us. It really has made a difference. This has been an incredible experience. To be here with this team and we have such a huge family of supporters who came this far just to be with us all. We sometimes forget that it’s more than just us and the horse, we do have so many people around us who make this happen. To watch what they sacrifice for our dream is something that is very emotional.”
Steffen Peters represented the United States with Four Wind Farm’s Legolas and the duo placed twelfth in the Grand Prix Freestyle with a 79.393 percent. The duo’s fun musical consisted of customized lyrics “Hey, It’s Legolas” to the tune of “Ice Ice Baby,” and they upped their degree of difficulty with a double canter pirouette before the canter-piaffe transition.
“We risked it all and I was hoping for a score around 80 percent and the judges agreed with me, so I am super happy,” Peters explained. “Today was 99 percent less pressure than the previous days so honestly I had a blast in there. I just loved it. He did everything I dreamed of and you don’t just hope that dreams come true you make the dreams come true. That’s what he did today.”
Allison Brock and the 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion Rosevelt placed 15th with a personal best of 76.160 percent.
“He was very good, bless his heart!” Brock explained. “I just love the music. The canter music is from “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” and it’s that beautiful waltzy thing. I think it suits him quite well and the music doesn’t overwhelm the audience. It draws you into the horse more than you just hearing stuff. You have to pay attention and absorb it a little.”
Monday’s Grand Prix Freestyle marked the conclusion of Dressage at the Olympic Games, but Show Jumping’s first team qualifier will get underway at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Live results can be found at https://www.rio2016.com/en, or follow the USET Foundation on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/USETFoundation.