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Tue, 2018-06-05 14:16

The Race to Le Lion: YEH Champions Contest for the Holekamp/Turner Grant

Quantum Leap is the currently the highest place horse from the 2016 YEH Championships that is qualified to compete at Le Lion d'Angers. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The Holekamp/Turner Grant is just a few months away from being awarded to the next U.S. Young Event Horse star to represent the United States at the 2018 FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses at Le Mondial du Lion d’Angers in France. In 2012, the USEA announced that this new grant would be aimed at supporting a pipeline of developing horses for the U.S. Eventing Team.

Founded by Tim and Cheryl Holekamp and Christine Turner, this grant is awarded to the highest scorer of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships 5-year-old division from both the East and West Coast Championships combined. The grant awards a cash prize that enables the horse to travel to Le Lion d’Angers in France two years later for the 7-year-old two-star Championship if the horse obtains the proper competition qualifications. If the highest scoring 5-year-old does not qualify or is unable to attend Le Lion d’Angers as a 7-year-old, then the grant money is awarded to the next highest scorer who is qualified, able, and willing to go. Since the intention of the prize is to further develop an upward pathway for U.S. Team horses in eventing, the eligibility of top-placing YEH horses remains with the horse, regardless of change of rider after the 5-year-old YEH Championships. However, the horse must be ridden by a United States citizen to receive the grant.

Another objective of the grant is to inspire and encourage breeding of event horses in North America. While it may seem as if Europe has paved the way for breeding and producing high-caliber horses for eventing, the United States is making grand efforts to be just as competitive, if not more. With this objective, recipients of the grant who are North American bred are awarded with the full grant money of $17,500 to travel to Le Lion d’Angers. When the winning recipient is an imported horse, then he/she are still rewarded, but with $8,000.

The 2018 Le Mondial du Lion d’Angers will be held October 18-21, 2018 just 2 hours and 30 minutes southeast of Paris, France. A total of 110 horses will be allowed to participate; 40 6-year-old horses in the CH-1* and 70 7-year-old horses in the CH-2*.

Previous Grant Recipients


Kelly Prather and D.A. Duras on their way to finishing in third place at the Richland Park CIC2* in 2015. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The grant began with the high score winner at the 2013 USEA Young Event Horse Championships, who would then attend the 2015 World Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers. The first Holekamp/Turner Grant was awarded in 2015 to Debbie Adams’ D.A. Duras (Numero Uno x Medoc) who was the overall fifth-place Young Event Horse from the 2013 USEA YEH Championships. Since he was the highest placed horse that also qualified for Le Lion d’Angers, he was awarded the grant to represent the United States. Since Adams imported Duras from the Netherlands as a 4-year-old, he received the $8,000 prize. Duras was ridden by Kelly Prather and she piloted the Dutch Warmblood gelding to a ninth-place finish at the 2015 Le Lion d’Angers. Duras is now co-owned by Adams and Jacqueline Mars and is now finding success at the upper levels of eventing with U.S. rider Lauren Kieffer.

In its second year, the grant was awarded to Fleeceworks Royal (Riverman x Marisol), a Holsteiner mare owned by Judith McSwain and bred by Charlotte Wrather of Cottonwood Ranch. “Rory” was the second recipient of the grant, but was the first American-bred winner, and rider Tamie Smith rode the beautiful gray mare to a 24th place finish at the 2016 Le Lion d’Angers. Smith has remained as Rory’s rider, and the pair are currently competing successfully at the Advanced and three-star level of competition.


Fleeceworks Royal ridden by Tamra Smith at the 2015 USEA American Eventing Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The 2015 YEH Championships saw many bright young stars, and it was Twilightslastgleam (National Anthem x Royal Child) that was named the recipient of the 2017 Holekamp/Turner Grant. The American-bred off-the-track Thoroughbred is owned by Tim and Nina Gardner and was also bred by Nina. Jennie Brannigan is “Comic’s” rider, but unfortunately Brannigan and the Gardners had to make a tough decision and just before heading to France released the following statement regarding Comic’s withdrawal from Le Lion d’Angers: "I am super bummed that Tim, Nina, and I have decided not to run Twilightslastgleam at Mondial Du Lion. We had some concerns about him having a potential injury brewing and decided that his future is bright, he is young, and to give him a break and bring him out 100% next spring. We are so grateful to the United States Eventing Association, Timothy Holekamp, and Chris Turner for the opportunity. I am also grateful to my vet Mary Griffin for looking out for the horses so diligently. It is wonderful to have owners that make the right call for the horses and I have to say that this was a very tough and close one to make. My heart breaks for them but I know Comic will make them smile quite a bit in the future."

Unfortunately, there was not enough time to utilize the grant funds to send a different horse to the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships at that time, but the good news is that the funds have continued to the following year, and the USEA will be able to guarantee sending horses to Le Lion one year beyond what had previously been budgeted.

2018 Contenders

To qualify for the 7-year-old Young Horse Championship at Le Mondial du Lion d’Angers in France, a horse must complete the Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) of one CCI* and one CIC2*, both with zero obstacle penalties on cross-country and a maximum of four penalties on obstacles (no more than one rail down) in the show jumping test. The MERs must be obtained by September 24, 2018, and the USEA requires that the owners of the grant-eligible horses notify the USEA of their intentions to compete in the 7-year-old Championship by September 1.

The 2016 YEH Championships saw a total of 42 horses and several have their sights set on France in 2018. So far, the horses that have earned full qualifications for France are: Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy), Quality Time (Guidam x Ruby Roller), D.A. Got Game (Cascani x Uwita OHF), and Graceland’s Liebling (Libero Star x Rittersporn). The horses that have earned partial qualifications thus far are: Galileo WP (Ustinov x Alexia), Stoneman (Grindstone x Smiler), Carlingford Wells (Clerkenwell x Belleville Diamond), Woodford Reserve (Tinarana's Inspector x  Laharns Laughton), and Ally KGO (Hirtentanz *E* x Annabel Lee).


Quantum Leap and Doug Payne at the 2017 USEA American Eventing Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Currently, Quantum Leap is the highest placed horse overall (8th) that has already qualified for the 2018 Le Lion d’Angers. Rider Doug Payne has expressed interest to the USEA in competing at the 7-year-old Championship in France should Quantum Leap receive the grant. The 7-year-old Holsteiner gelding is owned by rider Doug Payne and was bred in the United States by Elizabeth Callahan.

Another strong candidate to lookout for is the 7-year-old Trakehner mare Ally KGO. Also bred in the United States, the mare is owned by Q-Brook Stables and currently ridden by Caitlin Silliman. Ally KGO did not earn her CCI* MER, but she has already earned one CIC2* MER. Silliman has entered Ally KGO in the CCI2* at Bromont this weekend, and if the pair earns a qualifying result there, then they will be considered the new top contenders for the grant, as they finished two spots ahead of Quantum Leap on the YEH leaderboard in 2016.


Ally KGO and Caitlin Silliman at the 2017 USEA American Eventing Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

To confirm Ally KGO’s candidacy, the USEA reached out to U.S. Equestrian (USEF) and the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) and the FEI confirmed the following: a horse without a CCI* MER would be qualified for Le Lion d’Angers if they have an MER at a CCI2* and CIC2*, both with zero obstacle penalties on cross-country and max 4 penalties on obstacles (maximum one rail down) in the jumping test. If both results have been obtained as a combination, the horse would be qualified for the 7-year-old Championship.

While Quantum Leap and Ally KGO are currently the two top contenders gunning for the grant, there are still several horses placed higher than them on the YEH leaderboard that could still in fact earn additional qualifications as well.

Who will be the one to claim the 2018 Holekamp/Turner Grant? The race to Le Lion has begun!

About the Holekamp/Turner Le Lion d'Angers Prize and Grant 

The Holekamp/Turner Young Event Horse Le Lion d’Angers Prize and Grant will award the highest scorer of the USEA Young Event Horse 5-year-old Championships, both East and West Coast Championships combined, with a cash prize that will enable them to travel to the FEI World Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers in France for the 7-year-old two-star Championships. Winners who are North American bred will be awarded with $17,500 to travel to Le Lion d’Angers. If the winner is an imported horse he will be awarded $8,000. Click here for more information about the grant and click here to view the FEI qualification criteria for Le Lion d'Angers.

The USEA would like to thank Timothy Holekamp of New Spring Farm and his family and Christine Turner of Indian Creek Farm and her family for spearheading this grant and raising funds to support it.

About the USEA Young Event Horse Program

The Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was first established in 2004 as an eventing talent search. Much like similar programs in Europe, the YEH program was designed to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. The ultimate goal of the program is to distinguish horses with the potential to compete at the three- and four-star levels, but many fine horses that excel at the lower levels are also showcased by the program.

The YEH program provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to exhibit the potential of their young horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top event horses for the future. The program rewards horses who are educated and prepared in a correct and progressive manner. At qualifying events, youngsters complete a dressage test and a jumping/galloping/general impression phase. At Championships, young horses are also evaluated on their conformation in addition to the dressage test and jumping/galloping/general impression phase. Click here for more information about the USEA Young Event Horse Program.

The USEA would like to thank SmartPakStandlee Hay Company, and Merck Animal Health for sponsoring the Young Event Horse program.

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