April 12, 2016 - USA Para-Equestrian Dressage athletes Rebecca Hart and Annie Peavy had a successful weekend at the Deauville, France, CPEDI3*. The Deauville CPEDI*** (Concours Para-équestre de Dressage International) took place April 7-10, 2016, at the Pôle International du Cheval. Hart with Schroeter's Romani, owned in conjunction with Margaret Duprey, Cherry Knoll Farm, Barbara Summer, and Bill and Sandy Kimmel. earned a second place in the Grade II FEI Team Test, a first place in the Individual Test on Saturday with a 71.371%, and a third place in the Freestyle on Sunday. Annie Peavy and Lancelot Warrior, owned by Rebecca Reno, competed in Grade III against 25 Para-Dressage athletes from around the world. The duo garnered a fifth place in the Team Test, a tenth in the Individual, and a fourth place ribbon in the Freestyle. Both Hart and Peavy flew over to Europe at the beginning of April for the opportunity to compete on the world stage against their European counterparts before the U.S. Paralympic Selection Trials in June and the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Each rider also knew how important it was for them to be evaluated by the FEI 5* ground jury in Deauville since those judges will also be in Rio in September. The Deauville ground jury included President Anne Prain (FRA), Sarah Leitch GBR, Marc Urban BEL, Marco Orsini GER, Technical Delagate Carlos Lopes (POR), Hanneke Gerritsen (NED), and Kiel Myhre (NOR).
Hart, a seven time USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Champion, two-time Paralympian (2008, 2012) and two-time World Equestrian Games athlete (2010, 2014), was excited to travel back to Europe for another opportunity to showcase Schroeter's Romani's talent and gain valuable feedback from the judging panel.
Hart noted, "It has been a wonderful experience getting to travel and compete with Annie. It's been a great way to do the European circuit. We are able to keep it light and fun; even when the pressure is on at a major CPEDI. It makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable. It's the true meaning of work hard; play hard. I am so happy to see the results that we have been achieving. Annie rocked it in an incredibly large and competitive Grade three class, with top finishes and I couldn't have asked for a better result with Romani. She came in strong for this competition. She was super in the all three tests. Winning the individual; which is the first time I have ever won an individual championship in Europe. It was a great way to start the season and I hope to get to hear the national anthem again this year."
Hart continued, "The freestyle was a great learning moment. She felt fabulous throughout the performance. We were in the mid 70's, we did our new freestyle with a full walk pirouette; which is an unusual element. We had to add some variety and make it different. We have used the choreography before, but it was discussed between the judges here and was deemed disallowed; which is a mandatory hit to the choreography score. It dropped our score to a 71.3% for third, but I am still thrilled with the result. We are re-working the choreography and it was great to learn this now, rather than at our nationals or if we make the team, in Rio. It was a lovely event and I can't thank the organizers enough for hosting us."
Hart acknowledged, "I also have to thank my incredible team at Cherry Knoll Farm. Margaret Duprey enabled me to come on this European trip and I think it was an invaluable experience. Without her amazing support of not only me, but the whole sport of US Para-Dressage; I would not be able to do this. I also want to thank Todd Flettrich for his wonderful tutelage and guidance through this entire year. We have truly stepped up our game and he has helped me to build the confidence and partnership with Romani and it's showing in the results. I also have to thank my amazing grooms Hannah Hassinger and Fernando Ortega. They keep Romani at her best at home and on the road. They put in long hard days and enable us to do our best when the pressure is on. Also to my amazing owners and supporters who believed in Romani and I from the start and put us on the Road to Rio; Margaret Duprey, Bill and Sandy Kimmel, Barbara Summer, Brigitte Byrialsen, and Sycamore Station. This is truly a team effort, without these amazing people we wouldn't be here and sharing in these results."
Annie Peavy, a 2014 World Equestrian Games individual, added, "Competing at this CPEDI gave me lots of confidence going into the selection trials. It was tough competition with 17 nations. Lance is a partner and I mean that in the truest sense, he brings out the best in me and I strive to bring out the best in him and not let him down."
Peavy continued, "Becca Hart never ceases to impress me with her riding and approach to competition. She is focused and continues to up the game in America. I consider myself fortunate to call her a friend.
Peavy concluded, "I can't thank Heather Blitz enough for coaching me through a wonderful weekend. I also have to thank my parents, I could not have done this without their endless support."
Peavy along with her team and coach Heather Blitz will be staying in Europe to attend Waregem CPEDI3* April 21-24, before heading home for the Selection Trials.
Hart and coach Todd Flettrich will head back to the United States to prepare for the 2016 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Paralympic Equestrian Team Selection Trials; Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships; and Open Para-Dressage National Show scheduled June 3-5, 2016, at Waterloo Hunt Club in Grass Lake, Michigan. The 2016 Rio Paralympic Equestrian Games are scheduled for September 11-16, 2016, at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For more information about the The Deauville CPEDI*** (Concours Para-équestre de Dressage International) or for results please visithttp://www.handiequicompet.fr/en/index.html.