California Riding Magazine • April, 2009

Ready For The World
Peters & Bond are local headliners
for World Cup Finals.

by Kim F. Miller

Californians Steffen Peters and Ashlee Bond had locked in their spots for the World Cup Finals in dressage and jumping as we went to press with this issue. The Finals return to Las Vegas for the fifth time April 15-18, this year marking the second time that dressage and show jumping will be held simultaneously.

Steffen and his remarkable Olympic mount Ravel may be joined by two other local stars. The USEF was awaiting word whether its request that Leslie Morse and Kingston and Jan Ebeling and Rafalca be granted wild card spots. USEF high performance dressage director Gil Merrick was optimistic about this prospect, but noted that other countries had requested wild card consideration, too. Spots are tight because dressage is limited to just 15 horse/rider pairs. Our riders compete in the North American World Cup league, which is entitled to two berths based on rankings through the season. With their 79.950% score at the Dressage Affaire in Del Mar last month, Steffen and Ravel secured their place with style. The league’s second guaranteed berth goes to Canadian Ashley Holzer and Pop Art.

Not surprisingly, Steffen was feeling pretty good about his chances, but it’s not his nature to take anything for granted. “I have made the mistake of over confidence in the past and I don’t do that anymore,” he says.

Twenty-three-year-old Ashlee Bond is burning it up on the jumping side on our coast. Her win of two Thermal qualifiers topped a strong season and assured her one of the West Coast’s four slots. With one qualifier to go as we went to press, Mandy Porter, Richard Spooner and Will Simpson filled out the league’s top four rungs. But the final of 11 qualifiers was still to go March 28 at the Oaks in San Juan Capistrano. The Final’s reserve champions from last year, Rich Fellers and Flexible, had a shot to edge somebody out if things went their way. And California-based Australian rider Harley Brown earned a Vegas invite after a great season that netted him 89 points to Bond’s 91, again after just 10 of 11 rounds.

Blenheim EquiSports show management is staging a World Cup exhibition class, Fri. April 10, during its Spring Classic III. Held in its covered ring in San Juan Capistrano, the class is open to riders who have qualified for the World Cup and for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which takes place during the Finals, and those who’ve earned at least 25 points in the West Coast World Cup rankings this season. Run over an Olaf Peterson, Jr.-designed course, the class is free to competitors and spectators and is meant to both honor these horse/rider pairs and allow them a final indoor prep for the big event. The exhibition will start before the Classic’s 7 p.m. Grand
Prix: an exact time will be posted on by Thurs., April 9.

Dominant McLain Ward leads the pack of eight East Coast contenders entitled to a Finals appearance. A nice mix of veterans and relative newcomers, they are Kent Farrington, Todd Minikus, Christine McCrea, Beezie Madden, Hillary Dobbs, Lauren Hough and Brianne Goutal. The standings could change a bit after that league’s last qualifier.

Ashlee On Fire

A California native, Ashlee is thrilled to be heading to Vegas. International-level jumping competition has been her ambition for most of her life and things really came together last June when she got Cadett 7, a 12-year-old son of Cor de la Breyere. The gelding was originally imported for junior Aurora Griffin, but when Aurora went off to Harvard, Ashlee and her dad Steve Bond jumped on the chance to buy him. The pair hit it off quickly. They were second against top international contenders in the 1.50M Akita Drilling Cup at Spruce Meadows and were recruited by George Morris to ride on the U.S.’s Nations Cup team in Buenos Aires, where they helped the squad secure gold.

Ashlee and Steve Bond work out of the family’s Little Valley Farm in Hidden Hills. They’ve developed several homebreds over the years, including up and comer Super Girl. Steve rode their Grand Prix horses for a few years when Ashlee, a bit burned out, took a time-out to pursue other options. But since she returned to the sport two years ago, Steve now focuses on starting the youngsters and keeping the campaigners in top shape. Ashlee gets coaching from her longtime friend and mentor Richard Spooner, under whose wing she plans to compete in Europe this summer.

As we’ve mentioned a few times, the retirement ceremony for dressage great Brentina is expected to be a highlight of the Finals. The presentation will take place Fri., April 17, after the dressage showcase that begins at noon.

The rest of the schedule is as follows:

Wed., April 15
9:30 a.m. - Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Warm-Up Class I and II
1:30 p.m. - Rolex FEI World Cup™ Dressage Warm-Up Class

Thurs., April 16
Noon - Rolex FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix
7 p.m. - Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final I

Fri., April 17
Noon - Las Vegas Dressage Showcase
7 p.m. - Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final II

Sat., April 18
Noon - Las Vegas Jumping Grand Prix
7 p.m. - Rolex FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final

Sun., April 19
Noon - Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final III