You could hear a pin drop in the International Ring at The Colorado Horse Park as California’s Tamra Smith rode around the track in the final show jumping phase of the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena® Feeds Adequan® USEA Gold Cup Final aboard Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell’s, Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira). Smith and the 12-year-old German Sport Horse gelding finished out their weekend on a score of 28.0 – over 10 points ahead of second place. Their comeback was celebrated with a big blue ribbon, a round of applause, the title of Adequan® USEA Advanced Gold Cup Final Champions and USEF National Advanced Champions, and a cool $20,000.
“It just feels so good to be back on him,” said Smith. “It’s emotional because it’s been a long road to get him back.”
Mai Baum hasn’t competed at the top level of the sport since 2015 after he suffered a series of injuries that made for a long, three-year rehabilitation process. “He originally strained his tendon after Fair Hill,” explained Smith, “and we rehabbed him like a normal horse, and then he fell in the trailer, and he got a guttural pouch infection, and he had to be in a cast, and it was just one thing after another. And then he was huge, so it took me forever to get him fit again. He’s a couch potato so it took a while, so we took the time because he was worth it.”
Tamra Smith with Fleeceworks Royal and Mai Baum and her whole team. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
She continued, “It seems like yesterday, but it’s taken three years. So now he’s back and feeling 100 percent, and strong and so happy to be here. I’m happier, but he’s happy.”
Smith also credited the staff at The Colorado Horse Park and the organizers for their dedication to running a memorable event. “This whole experience has been wonderful. My hat goes off to the course designers, I actually told the crew that I would give them a cut of my prize money if I won because they worked really hard. The footing felt phenomenal.”
Smith also claimed podium spot number three after earning 45.4 penalties with Judith McSwain’s 9-year-old Holsteiner mare Fleeceworks Royal (Riverman x Marisol). “She got selected to go to Boekelo [in the Netherlands],” Smith said, “so I knew I was going to have a conservative weekend with her. She went fast at Rebecca Farm and I can’t go fast with her all of the time, so as much as I wanted to go for it yesterday, I had to think about the bigger picture. In the dressage she was also pretty spicy, the atmosphere was quite electric and she really came up in there. Right before I went in it started to rain a bit and the wind picked up, and I thought it may monsoon . . . but it didn’t and she held it together and she is very obedient. We just schooled in there and kept it conservative.”
“Cross-country we just took it easy and at a good pace, and she was super over everything. I think today was her best show jumping. When I ride her well, she jumps beautifully and it finally clicked,” she concluded.
Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Cruising into second place after dressage, Jordan Linstedt of Washington, and Revitavet Capato (Contendro x Annabelle), Barbara and Gary Linstedt’s 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, maintained their spot throughout the weekend to land on a final score of 39.5. “I didn’t go out of the start box with the plan to be super competitive,” said Linstedt, “I just went out there to let him run and I never kicked him once around the course, he flowed with it. I wanted to go out there and be efficient with inside turns. He came in pretty quick so I was happy with him.”
Heather Morris and Charlie Tango. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
Charlie Tango is used to being an AEC Champion having won the honor a whopping three times – Preliminary in 2014, Intermediate in 2015, and once again at the Intermediate level today. With all that experience, Heather Morris was able to ride Team Express Group, LLC’s 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Shannondale Sarco St. Ghyvan x Our Queen Bee) to a perfect weekend. The pair added nothing to their dressage score of 25.8 to win wire-to-wire by over five points.
“He was great. I was a little rusty actually, I hadn’t ridden in three weeks because I threw my back out, but it all worked out in there,” said Morris.
Morris and Chuck came into show jumping with a rail in hand, but they didn’t even need it as they easily cleared Marc Donovan’s course. “He was weird at the liverpool at Rebecca Farm, so I was a little worried about that, but he jumped great. I had a few errors, but he handled it well. It was lovely to be in the International Ring here, and the course was lovely. He loves the crowd and the atmosphere so it went well,” concluded Morris.
Bella Mowbray and En Vogue. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
Bella Mowbray and Ruth Bley’s En Vogue (Earl x Laurena), a 13-year-old Hanoverian mare, added a single show jumping time penalty to their dressage score, but were still able to hold on to the reserve champion title. “My highlight was definitely cross-country,” said Mowbray. “It was a real championship course. It was pretty imposing. I looked pretty technical and big and it rode really beautifully. I was just really proud of my horse. She ate it up.”
“It’s a long way home, about 24 hours, but thankfully we had a great weekend,” continued Mowbray, who traveled from California to compete at the AEC. The journey was a bit closer than the 2017 AEC in Tryon, N.C. where Mowbray and En Vogue finished fourth in the Preliminary Horse division.
Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
Third-placed Erin Kellerhouse had never been to The Colorado Horse Park before, but she was connected to it. “My husband has been,” explained Kellerhouse. “He organized a two-star here 20 years ago. He was really impressed with the changes. I was impressed too, not even knowing what it was before.”
Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve (Tinarana’s Inspector x Laharns Laughton), her own 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, started the weekend in second place, but some time on cross-country dropped them down to fourth. However, a double clear show jumping round boosted them up to finish in third. “He’s a really good show jumper and I knew if I didn’t mess up, we’d go clean. He’s really careful and he gives me a lot of confidence in there because he’s brave and careful and he just does his thing,” said Kellerhouse.
About the USEA American Eventing Championships
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, the best junior, adult amateur, and professional competitors gather to vie for national championship titles at every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This ultimate test of horse and rider draws hundreds of horses and riders from around the country to compete for fabulous prizes, a piece of the substantial prize money, and the chance to be named the National Champion at their respective levels. This year, the USEA American Eventing Championships will be held August 29-September 2, 2018 at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
The USEA would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the USEA American Eventing Championships: Presenting Sponsors: Nutrena Feeds; Gold Cup Advanced Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Sponsor: Devoucoux; Gold Level Sponsors: Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Merck Animal Health, Parker Equine Insurance; Silver Level Sponsors: VTO Saddlery, Mountain Horse; Bronze Level Sponsors: SmartPak, Dubarry, The Chronicle of the Horse, Stackhouse and Ellis Saddles, Auburn Laboratories, FITS Riding, CWD, Ovation, Acuswede, and Equipparel; Contributing Level Sponsors: Nunn Finer, RevitaVet, Emerald Valley Natural Health, CrossCountry App; Prize Level Sponsors: Ride Safe, GumBits, Equus Magnificus, Scoring Chix, Ride Heels Down, C4 Belts, A Little Pet Vet, ChubbyCov LLC, The Jockey Club, Absorbine, Arenus Animal Health, Equestrian Athlete Camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series
The 2018 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced horse trials and CIC3* levels. The qualifying period begins August 2017 and continues through August 2018 with the final taking place at the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado, August 29 – September 2, 2018. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money and thousands of dollars in prizes and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Final Advanced Division. Click here to learn more about the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series.