By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Invitations were issued Monday to the top 15 horse and rider combinations for the United States Olympic selection trials with only slightly more than 2 1/2 percentage points separating the top group fighting for what could be three places to join Steffen Peters on Ravel at the Olympics in two months.
With Steffen of San Diego, California, and his 2008 Olympic and 2010 World Chamionship medal mount excused from the trials, the battle wil be for a minimum of two and possibly three places to represent the United States in dressage beginning Aug. 2 at Greenwich Park in London.
The selection trials are the U.S. Grand Prix Championships. Combinations will compete in two Grand Prix and two Olympic Grand Prix Specials over two weekends–June 8-10 and June 16-17–at Gladstone, New Jersey, the historic U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters an hour outside New York City.
Although Steffen will not compete Ravel who leads the rankings with an average of 79.398 per cent, he will ride Legolas that is second in the rankings and is likely to go to Europe as a backup. Both horses are owned by Akiko Yamazaki.
The final rankings are:
1. Steffen Peters – Legolas – 75.495%
2. Adrienne Lyle – Wizard – 71.652%
3. Heather Blitz – Paragon – 70.750%
4. Tina Konyot – Calecto V – 70.609%
5. Todd Flettrich – Otto – 70.534%
6. Günter Seidel – Fandango – 70.335%
7. Shawna Harding – Come On III – 69.200%
8. Susan Blinks – Robin Hood – 69.039%
9. Jan Ebeling – Rafalca – 69.027%
10. Kathleen Raine – Breanna – 68.457%
11. Katherine Bateso-Chandler – Nartan 67.464%
12. James Kofford – Rhett – 67.411%
13. Chris Hickey – Douglas Hilltop – 67.181%
14. Pierre St. Jacques – Lucky Tiger – 67.283%
15. Cesar Parra – Van the Man – 66.574%
If some of the invitations are not fulfilled, combinations next in line can be invited. They are: Susan Dutta and Currency DC 66.480% who has been in Europe for the past two months and did not compete to raise her average; Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF 66.041% and David Blake and Ikaros 65.780%.
Teams for the Olympics will be made up of three combinations. Great Britain, Germany and The Netherlands also qualified an individual by th cutoff date of Mar. 1.
Although the United States missed out by the first deadline, it can still qualify an individual if members of other teams do not attain the two minimum scores of 64 per cent by June 17.
Colombia has no riders with qualifying scores with three competitions to go, while New Zealand has only one of three riders qualified. Another rider retired her horse and the third does not yet meet the N.Z. Olympic Committee requirement of 68 per cent minimum.
Anne Gribbons, the U.S. Teahcnical Advisor or the coach, has said she hopes to take up to six combinations to Europe after the selection trials.