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Robert Dover and FBW Kennedy Sweep All Four 2004 Olympic Dressage Trials. Take USEF National Championship Title.

US Equestrian Federation Press Release

San Juan Capistrano, CA - Robert Dover did it again today and in some kind of style, Freestyle to be exact, with a score today of 81.70 in the Bayer/USET Foundation Festival of Champions presented by State Line Tack. The competition was the 2004 Olympic Dressage Trials and also determined the USEF Grand Prix National Championship.

Gunter Seidel was second in the Freestyle on Aragon with a 78.425%, and third on Nikolaus 7 with 77.175%. Leslie Morse was fourth on Kingston with 77.025% and Steffen Peters on Floriano was fifth with 75.625%.

For the entire Trials the overall scores were: Dover and Kennedy 78.478%: Seidel and Aragon 73.886%; Seidel and Nikolaus 73.181%; Peters and Floriano 72.386%; and Morse and Kingston 71.899%.

The big story of these Trials wasn’t just Dover, it was also the overall quality of the performances during the entire trials, capped off by the excellent Freestyle rides today. Veteran “O” Judge Axel Steiner was commenting via headsets for the spectators and said, “It’s the largest and most enthusiastic crowd we’ve had in this country in my 30 years of judging. This is the best competition we’ve had in this country.”

U.S. Dressage Coach Klaus Balkenhol is looking forward to Athens. Gunter Seidel translated, “He’s very happy with the results. It is an international caliber show so he was expecting those kinds of scores really right before the Olympics if you want to be competitive in an international sport like this. It’s very good to have a very big show with these kinds of results for American Dressage. It was a great audience that we haven’t seen that much. He hopes that we will all keep our form for Athens and come home with a good medal and that no judge will look past our good riding, our good performances. He gives credit to Debby and Brentina who are making very good progress here and looking excellent. He hopes all the other horse and riders will show up well in Athens and the whole world is going to talk about the American dressage riders.

Debby McDonald, who has already been named as a discretionary selection to the Short List for the Athens team, summed up her short list teammates as “pretty awesome, an exciting team to sit here with, we’re going to come out with a strong team at the end and hopefully bring a nice medal home.”

About his experience in the Trials Dover said, “This was the first time this last weekend when I showed Kennedy with this kind of an atmosphere so I learned how much I could trust him with each class that I went into. Klaus gave me help from the side that gave me confidence to more or less trust my instincts on things, so it was definitely a learning situation.”

“I came into today wanting to have a really fun time,” Dover said. “So today I went out to have a great time with my horse. I did that and I finished each ride with a smile on my face because I thought my horses were fine and that they enjoyed themselves in the ring today. That’s really what’s it all about.”

Leslie Morse was upbeat about her Trials, “I feel so lucky to be here. For me, I learned such a great deal for two weekends and for me it’s the culmination was today, which I was very pleased with. Overall, it worked out very well.”

About the possibility of not making the team she said, “Obviously it is a disappointment, but you know this is a young horse and to get this far at this point in his career is amazing for me. He has a very bright future. It’s not done yet, and I hope to get the opportunity to compete more in Europe and go learn more, continue to learn and grow as a rider, keep developing my horse so he can be a horse for America.”

Steffan Peters continued to be happy with the rapid progress he’s made with Floriano. However, he announced today that this was the last competition for his veteran mount Grandeur. “He’s 16. I’ve always allowed horses to tell me when they’re ready to move up and when they want to retire. He’s really good, really sound still but not as energetic anymore but still does his job. I always believe in horses going out in really good shape. That’s what he’s going to do.”

Intermediaire I National Championship

Leslie Morse and Tip Top 962 put in a very tip top performance in the Freestyle today to take the overall USEF Intermediaire National Championship on the 10 year old Swedish Warmblood stallion. Her stylish and powerful program was performed to music from “Dragnet” and “Fever” and scored a 78.50%. Steffen Peters and Marlando was second with 76.300. New Jersey’s Michael Shondel on Wallaby was third with 71.925% and Heather Bender and Winwood, much improving after a disastrous first day on Friday, were fourth with 71.925%.

Morse won the overall competition with a 74.880 with Steffan Peters and Marlando second with 72.280%. A pair of exciting young riders did well at the event, Nicole Perry of California finished third on Rubino Bellissimo with a compositie score of 68.855%, while Shondel finished fourth for a composite score of 68.845%.

For complete results of the Olympic Dressage Trials and Intermediaire I Championship click on the Media Guide on the homepage of and select the first menu item, Selection Trials/Results.