U.S. Dressage Riders Shine in Grand Prix Special

The dressage riders temporarily reclaimed the ring from the show jumpers Saturday night at Sha Tin. Although Germany continued to rule, the Americans put in an impressive showing.

Two U.S. riders competed. Steffen Peters and Ravel were first of the pair in the ring.

"I couldn't be happier," said Peters after his ride, which scored 71.80%. "All the trot work felt great, he was much more relaxed in the walk than he was the last time."

The duo from San Diego, Calif., were ranked tenth individually in the team portion of the competition on Thursday but everyone started with a clean slate as individual competition began. The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding was undefeated in the United States prior to coming to theses Games, and he certainly did not disappoint his connections tonight.

"That was my expectation," said Peters. "It's just great. I feel like I had more horse tonight than in the Grand Prix, I'm beside myself. He was awesome."

Peters said he is looking forward to the freestyle on Tuesday and is hoping for a duplicate performance to his winning effort at the Selection Trials in June.

In a testament to the strength of the U.S. team's character, Peters dedicated his ride tonight to his fellow teammate Debbie McDonald. McDonald and Brentina did not make the individual final after an incredibly uncharacteristic performance in the team portion of the competition.

The second U.S. pair was Olympic rookie combination Courtney King-Dye and Mythilus. King-Dye rode confidently and was rewarded with a score of 70.80%. 

"Only the top three scores count," said King-Dye. "So why not go for it?

"I think Mythilus was peaking before we came here," said King-Dye. "Then I lost a little bit of time (with the trip). He still feels really fit."

Mythilus is a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by the Harmony Sport Horse Foundation.

They currently sit eighth in the world going into the freestyle.

German rider Isabell Werth and Satchmo were again the overall winners, but their performance was not without incident. The 13-year-old Hanoverian stopped and resisted badly in the piaffe and was in danger of backing up into the side of the arena. Her scores had been up over 80, but the pair settled for 75.2%.

Anky van Grunsven, reigning Olympic gold medalist from The Netherlands, rode Salinero to a score of 74.960%, despite breaking twice to canter in the trot half-passes. Their score left them second going into the freestyle.

Heike Kemmer and Bonaparte, another German combination, slipped in front of Peters with a score of 72.40%.

The individual medals for dressage will be decided on Tuesday, Aug.19, when the top 10 horses return to the ring for the freestyle.

The show jumpers return to the ring for the next two evenings to battle it out for the team medals.

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