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Ravel Is USA Horse of the Year

Ravel being honored at Aachen, Germany. © 2009 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

Ravel being honored at Aachen, Germany. © 2009 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky, Jan. 15–Ravel, ridden by Steffen Peters to the 2009 World Cup title and the only American combination ever to sweep the CDIO at Aachen, Germany, on Friday night was named United States Horse of the Year.

Ravel, a 12-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding owned by Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang, was one of five horses nominated for Farnam/Platform Horse of the Year 2009 and voted on by members of the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang flew into Lousiville Friday to attend the awards dinner during the USEF annual meeting. Steffen had a riding commitment in California.

“Ravel made a dream come true,” Akiko told dressage-news.com after the award was announced.

“A dream I didn’t even know I could have.

“I think it was a great year for US dressage if I may humbly say so. It put us on the world map, at the top.”

“Only in America can you have a success story like this,” she said referring to the international make-up of Ravel’s inner circle from the German-born Steffen to Ravel’s groom Rafael Hernandez Carillo, her Chinese-born husband, co-founder of Yahoo.com, and herself, born in Costa Rica and a graduate of Stanford University in industrial engineering.

“I would like to thank the USEF, Jim Wolf – thank you so much and Jessica Ransehousen for her wonderful coaching.”

Ravel, ridden by Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, became the first American combination to win the World Cup on American soil, scoring 84.95 per cent in the Grand Prix Freestyle at Las Vegas in April. The combination also swept all three CDIO Grand Prix classes at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany in July.

Owner Akiko Yamazaki with Ravel and groom Rafael Hernandez. © 2009 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

Owner Akiko Yamazaki with Ravel and groom Rafael Hernandez. © 2009 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

Steffen is one of seven candidates up for the award known as USEF Equestrian of Honor that will be announced Saturday night.

Ravel was one of five horses nominated for Horse of the Year.

Horse of the Year candidates in addition to Ravel, were Sapphire, 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by McLain Ward and Bluechip Bloodstock; Courage to Lead, 13-year-old bay Morgan mare; Kripton-Seni II, 10-year-old bay Andalusian stallion, and CH Our Charming Lady, nine-year-old bay American Saddlebred mare.

Ravel, then named TC Ravel and a stallion ridden by Edward Gal of The Netherlands, was bought by Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang after the World Equestrian Games in Aachen in 2006. The goal was to find a horse that Steffen could compete for the United States in the 2008 Olympic Games.

Ravel did not settle easily into life in America.

First off, difficulties in quarantine at the University of California in Davis led to the horse being gelded.

Then, Ravel injured himself and was out of work for several months.

However, Ravel recovered to be better than ever. He swept the Olympic selection trials and the results in the Olympic freestyle competition put him in the rarefied atmosphere of elite performers.

Ravel and Steffen placed third in the Grand Prix Freestyle at Hong Kong but missed out on a bronze medal by 0.305 per cent when the score was combined with that of the Grand Prix Special.

Ravel and Steffen Peters after the 2008 Olympic Games Grand Prix Freestyle. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Ravel and Steffen Peters after the 2008 Olympic Games Grand Prix Freestyle in which the pair came third. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Eight months later, Ravel captured the FEI World Cup in Las Vegas.

In front of thousands of knowledgeable European fans, the pair became the first American combination ever to sweep the three CDIO Grand Prix classes at Aachen, winning the hearts of the crowd that displayed their appreciation with an enthusiastic and prolonged standing ovation.

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