Dressage: Nancy Jaffer’s Predictions

The U.S. will have an intense focus at the WEG to regain its tradition of getting a medal at every Olympics and WEG since 1992 — until 2008. The Hong Kong Olympics was a disaster for the dressage team, with the exception of Steffen Peters, who finished fourth on Ravel.

If all goes well, Ravel will be the linchpin of the 2010 team, with an excellent shot at an individual medal for Steffen. The European Champion Dutch squad is favored for the title, led by Edward Gal on superhorse Moorland’s Totillas, who has achieved record scores and is so spectacular some believe he is a member of another species! Germany, the most successful team in the history of competitive dressage, is in a rebuilding phase, but even so would seem in line for a medal. The British are surging and a real medal threat. All of this means the American team has its work cut out for its medal quest.

If Totillas is on his game, he will clinch the individual gold for Edward. The rest of the individual medals likely will rest around the necks of Steffen; Edward’s teammate, Anky van Grunsven with Salinero; or Germany’s Isabell Werth, probably with Satchmo.

Among the key U.S. team candidates are:

Steffen Peters

The Germans probably wish they had this German-born rider back on their side. The naturalized American citizen narrowly missed an Olympic individual medal at the 2008 Olympics. He then made history at Germany’s biggest show, Aachen, in 2009 by sweeping the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix freestyle with Ravel, who just gets better and better. The Aachen victories came on top of Steffen’s triumph with the Dutchbred gelding in the Rolex FEI World Cup finals. A U.S. team without Steffen likely would be out of the medals. BIO

Lauren Sammis

The Pan American Games team gold and individual silver medalist took a big step up as she started Grands Prix with Sagacious HF. After his early learning experiences, the Dutchbred went on to a string of victories. A sensational horse to watch, he needs a bit more mileage, but his beautiful gaits and impressive piaffe and passage should make him an asset to the medal quest as he matures at the top level of the sport. BIO

Leslie Morse

The winners of the abbreviated 2009 national dressage championship, Leslie and her Swedish stallion Tip Top have plenty of international experience that should stand them in good stead if they make the team. Leslie was a member of the bronze medal squad at the last WEG and has World Cup finals experience on her resume as well. BIO

Guenter Seidel

This triple Olympic team medalist has been lacking a top mount recently, but there’s a lot of excitement over U2, the 2008 USEF National Developing Horse Champion that he is pointing toward the WEG. Will the 8-year-old be ready? He’s still on the USEF’s developing list, so that’s a valid question; but if anyone can get him there, it’s WEG team medalist Guenter. BIO

Adrienne Lyle

Admittedly, Adrienne is a bit of a long shot to make the WEG team, since she has never been on a senior championship team. But the 2008 Brentina Cup winner has a great trainer in Olympic medalist Debbie McDonald and two top horses at her disposal in Wizard, her winning ride at the 2009 national championships and Felix, who is no slouch either.BIO

Tina Konyot

Tina has come close to making championship teams before, but the Danish-bred Calecto could be her best shot ever. The black stallion made a splash by winning the freestyle at Dressage at Devon and continues to improve on a track that looks as if it’s headed to Kentucky. BIO

Todd Flettrich

Todd has worked with many top trainers, including former U.S. chef d’equipe Jessica Ransehousen and Hubertus Schmidt of Germany. His improving performances with Otto this year bode well for their chances to continue that ascent in the WEG selection trials. BIO

After covering all five previous World Equestrian Games in Europe, award-winning photojournalist Nancy Jaffer is looking forward to reporting and photographing the first WEG in the U.S. Her experience also includes eight Olympic Games, 21 World Cup finals and more major three-day events, grands prix, driving competitions and dressage shows than she has time to tally. Her books include ?Life in the Galloping Lane? with eventers Karen and David O?Connor and ?Riding Through,? with dressage star Debbie McDonald. An equestrian all her life, she still rides her horses when she’s not on assignment.

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