"There won't be a dry eye in the house," says Regina Antonioli of the ceremony being planned to mark Ravel's retirement. She is manager of the Del Mar National dressage show, where Steffen Peters' renowned dressage partner Ravel will make his official show farewell. The ceremony is slated for Saturday night, April 27, as the finale of that
night's always-wonderful Evening of the
"I am so proud that they chose the Del Mar National for his retirement ceremony," Regina says. "Any show in the world would have wanted it."
Details were either in progress or being kept under wraps as we went to press, but Regina is confident that the program Ravel's owner Akiko Yamazaki has in mind will be a fitting tribute to this remarkable horse's contribution to U.S. dressage. Word is that Akiko is working on a video recap of his career for broadcast on the Del Mar Arena's jumbotron. It may include footage of some of his foals who were conceived via semen collected before Ravel was gelded shortly after arrival in the States in 2006. Retirement ceremonies often include the horse's shoes or saddles being removed for that last time and it's possible the audience may be treated to a final show ring exhibition.
After the ceremony, Steffen will be on hand to sign autographs for he and Ravel's many fans.
Since the summer Olympics, Ravel has been enjoying a life of leisure and light work at Akiko and her husband Jerry's Yang's Four Winds Farm in the Bay Area's Woodside. Akiko rides him on trail and keeps him fit with light exercise.
Ravel's resume is well known. He has achieved international fame by representing the United States in two Olympics: the 2008 Bejing Games and the 2012 London Games. He is probably best known and beloved by West Coasters for his 2009 World Cup Finals victory in Las Vegas. Most locals were lucky to regularly see Ravel and Steffen's winning ways, and to watch them win against the world's best in a magical performance was an unforgettable moment. It marked the first time that an American won the World Cup Finals in the event's then 23-year history.
(Equally beloved pair Debbie McDonald and Brentina were awarded the Cup in 2003, after Germany's Ulla Salzgeber surrendered it when her horse tested positive for banned substances. Steffen moved to the States from his native Germany in 1985 and earned his U.S. citizenship in 1992.)
After the World Cup Finals victory, Ravel went on to win the 2009 Aachen CDIO. He was the US Grand Prix Dressage Champion twice, and has taken over 40 Grand Prix victory laps throughout his accomplished career.
Del Mar's Evening of Musical Freestyles always draws a big crowd and it's likely that tickets will sell out fast this year. For tickets and more information, visit www.delmarnational.com.