By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Jan Ebeling and Rafalca will compete in their third World Cup Final and will likely be joined by fellow American James Koford and Pharaoh in a first time appearance after the last of the North American League qualifiers for the the only annual global championship to be held in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, April 18-22.
Jan made the cut on the 15-year-old Oldenburg mare (Argentinius x Ratine x Rubenstein) when he scored 74.800 per cent in the Grand Prix Freestyle at Del Mar, California, Saturday night to give the pair the required second result. Combined with their result from Burbank earlier this month, their average was 74.2 per cent from the World Cup events on the West Coast of which there were only two this season.
His wife, Amy, was among the festive crowd of several hundred fans to watch the last of this season’s qualifiers in the U.S., but Anne Romney, one of Rafalca’s owners, was on the campaign trail with her husband, Mitt, who is running to be President of the United States.
James Koford of Wellington, Florida, and Pharaoh, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Ferro x Heureka VH Rampelhof x Carneval) he borrowed from his employee, did not compete in the last of the World Cup qualifiers in Florida this same weekend but had an average of their two best results of 73.375 per cent.
Adrienne Lyle of Ketchum, Idaho, and Wizard, had the highest average, 74.600 per cent, in the NAL, that is awarded two places at the Final alongside representatives from the Pacific and Western and Central European Leagues. Each league is formatted differently–the Europeans by points awarded for placings, the Pacific through a league competition final and North America by averaging the top two results. The NAL was the last of the leagues to complete qualifying for the 2011/2012 season.
Adrienne told dressge-news.com she most likely will not go to the Final, but will focus on seeking a place on the U.S. Olympic team later in the year, a goal that other top U.S. and Canadian riders such as Ashley Holzer and Steffen Peters have set for themselves rather than the World Cup.
The defending World Cup champion combination is Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival who will ride before a home crowd that can be counted on to provide rousing encouragement.
Jan of Moorpark, California, competed Rafalca at the 2009 World Cup Final in Las Vegas and at Leipzig, Germany, last year.
The ride to music from the movies Rainman and The Mission–“Mitt picked the music… that was his contribution, and we love it”–was “awesome, the best she has ever been,” he said.
“The piaffe and passage is great. We don’t have to work at it. We’re a really good team now. I know what I can ask of her and she will give it; there is nothing to be worried about.
“She’s got a big heart and just goes for it.”
Jan bought the horse when she was nine years old and now “I think I’m really prepared” with coaching from Christine Traurig in the U.S. and Wolfram Wittig in Germany.
Jan, now aged 53 who has spent more of his life in the United States than he did in his native Germany, said that his goal for this year is to make the U.S. team for the London Games.