For Immediate Release: The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds returned to the iconic Kentucky Horse Park for the much-anticipated 2021 event. The championships are held at the same location for three-year periods and 2019 was the event’s inaugural year amongst the rolling hills of the horse park in Lexington, Ky. With the 2020 edition canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of excitement building for 2021. The competition kicked off Tuesday, August 31 with all sections of the Bates USEA Preliminary Championships and Intermediate contesting the dressage phase.
USEA Intermediate Championship
Ocala, Florida’s Leslie Law riding Jackie and Steve Brown’s Lady Chatterley, the 2020 USEA Mare of the Year, set the precedent in the Intermediate division with a dressage score of 25.5. Prior to his takeover, Law’s wife, Lesley Grant-Law, was the original mount on the 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Connor x Jucy) and he credits her with the successful upbringing.
“We’ve had her since she was a 5-year-old and my wife did a fantastic job of starting her off and bringing her up to this point,” Law stated. “She has had a successful year already having won several events down at the Florida Horse Park so we were hopeful and looking forward to bringing her here.”
Much of the duo’s success can be attributed to Lady Chatterley’s elegance and rideability in the dressage phase. “This mare has always been fantastic on the flat but she put in a really excellent test today,” Law described of the day. “Over the course of the past year we have been able to become more consistent in our suppleness which has led to a better connection and contact and today she just carried herself so well she was quite honestly a joy to ride.”
Following only 0.4 points behind law were Candace Elizabeth Bell and her own 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Aragorn x KVC Yasmin) Fernhill Philm Star on a 25.9. Elisa Wallace danced into third place with Steve Sukup’s 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Confetti x unknown) Riot Gear falling only 0.1 short of Bell and finishing on a total of 26.0 for the day.
Bates USEA Preliminary Junior/Young Rider
Lakeville, Connecticut’s Cassie Sanger snatched up the early lead in the Bates USEA Preliminary Junior/Young Rider division with Danger Mouse on a 24.7 after the pairs dressage test. Sanger has only been partnered with Caroline Martin’s 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Kannan since the beginning of the season but the two are finally hitting their stride.
“He has been a tricky one to figure out but he is naturally quite a fancy mover,” she detailed. “His trot is beautiful to watch but not always the easiest to sit, especially when he is tense in the back, but today he was just lovely and soft on the aids— we were really able to produce our personal best.”
Sanger went two for two in the opening competition as she piloted her own Redfield Fyre, an 8-year-old Warmblood gelding, to the third-place position with a score of 27.9. At only 16 years old, she is no stranger to the AEC having competed at the event in 2017 when she was only 12 years old and again in 2019 at the age of 14 with different mounts. However, this is her first championship partnered with Danger Mouse and Redfield Fyre’s first championship event ever.
“I have owned Redfield for just over a year and have produced him up the levels myself,” explained Sanger. “He competed in his very first United States eventing debut with me at the Novice level and just recently moved into the Preliminary level this year.
“It is really cool to debut him at an event of this caliber and have him do some of the best work he has ever done,” Sanger added. “I am looking forward to having very good rides tomorrow; there is a lot to do on the Preliminary course but all of the questions are fair so I am excited.”
Kiera Kenny and Annette Kenny’s 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Clinton I x Callina), FE Chardonnay slid into the runner-up position only 0.3 points behind Sanger on a 25.
Bates USEA Preliminary Horse
2020 USEA Rider of the Year, Liz Halliday-Sharp and Ocala Horse Properties, LLC’s Shanroe Cooley lead the way in the day’s Preliminary Horse division with a first-place score of 28.5 after their dressage performance.
“I got him as a 4-year-old from Cooley Farm, and he has just been such a wonderful young horse with an amazing career already,” Halliday-Sharp detailed of the 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dallas VDL x Shanroe Sapphire). “We have taken our time with him and overall his entire way of going has gotten better so he has really become much stronger and able to truly hold himself in self-carriage which is impressive for such a big horse of a young age.”
With an eye for raw talent, she had the gelding picked out from a young age and the owners at Ocala Horse Properties were eager to be a part of his growth.
“I did a bit of a trade with the Cooley Farm for him but I hadn’t gotten him out of Ireland yet,” she elaborated of the purchase. “He won a lot as a 5-year-old and they were very excited to add another talent to our string to have for the next few championships. He is very consistent and immensely brave for a fairly sensitive young horse so I think he has a big career ahead of him.
“He is 17.3 so he is tall but remarkably light on his feet,” she continued. “He is also an incredible cross-country horse because he has a huge gallop and just gets better with each run. That is the nice thing about young horses, each run they do makes them smarter, so I think the questions asked on the course for tomorrow will be a great education for him."
Zoe Crawford of Reddick, Florida chased closely behind Halliday-Sharp with the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Navarone x Naviete) Francelia. She and the Suzanne Stillman-owned mount finished only 0.3 points behind the leading score with a total of 28.8. Hallie Coon and her own 6-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cachassini x Shenandoah Tazi) Global Clue ticked an additional 0.2 points onto the reserve score to finish out the top three on 30.0.
Bates USEA Preliminary Amateur
Boise, Idaho’s Madison Langerak was bubbling with enthusiasm after she and her own 9-year-old Hungarian Sport Horse gelding (Kalaska De Semilly x Carina) Normandy Kivalo crushed years worth of personal goals to position themselves at the top of the leaderboard on 22.5.
The pair traveled all the way from Idaho with the gelding only arriving on Saturday evening and adjusting to the change in humidity has been a challenge Langerak said she was concerned with today.
“He has felt a bit lethargic due to the change in humidity, so I think I rushed the first part of our test a bit,” she said. “Once I got to the canter work though, I tried to take a breath and just remember this is where we excel. One of my favorite parts of the test is the simple change on the diagonal because he just always does that canter-trot-canter transition so perfectly.”
Langerak and the gelding, affectionately nicknamed Norman, have overcome various hurdles in the four and a half years since she imported him from Hungary but starting off with so much success at his first championship was proof to her that the long road has been worth the effort.
“I trained several horses prior to purchasing Norman and I feel like they have all taught me something different about training horses that has culminated in him being a success,” she enthused. “It has not been an easy road so I am just incredibly thankful and grateful to have made it here this year, this has been my biggest goal for him and for myself.”
Michelle Koppin and her own 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Carass xZ-Whitney)Calcourt Valley skyrocketed to the reserve position at the end of the division with a score of 23.2 while Arden Wildasin and Sarah Wildasin’s 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding(Boherdeal Clover xBirdhill Lady) Southern Sun secured third place only 1 point behind Koppin with a 24.2.
Bates USEA Preliminary Rider
Completing one of the final classes of the day, Susan Moessner of Ann Arbor, Michigan skillfully guided her 17-year-old Warmblood stallion (Indian Art x Epic Satin), Satin Art to the lead on a 26.7.
“In my opinion, this actually wasn’t one of our best dressage tests, but with this horse even a bad test is a good test,” Moessner affirmed.
For Moessner, her partnership with Satin is long-standing as she bred and raised the stallion herself and has been his only partner for his 17 years.
“He is basically the fourth generation that I have bred. Both of his parents competed to the Advanced level and it has just been an incredible journey to bring him to this point and create such a strong partnership,” she affirmed.
The second-place spot on the leaderboard was awarded to Sophie Miller after she earned 29.5 points on Laurie Cameron’s 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding mare (Quite Capitol x Merging) Quarlotta C. Sara Kelson and her self-owned 10-year-old British Sport Horse gelding(Rhondeo x Cara Z) Rhonaldo rounded out the top three with a 30.6.
The Intermediate and Bates USEA Preliminary pairs will take on cross-country tomorrow while the dressage continues with the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final, Vetoquinol USEA Modified, and USEA Training Championship divisions.
About the USEA American Eventing Championships
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds 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. With over 1,000 entries the 2021 AEC is set to be the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held August 31 – September 5 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
The 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds would not be possible without our wonderful sponsors! The USEA would like to thank the following sponsors for their support: Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena Feeds; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsor: Bates Saddles, Vetoquinol; Gold Level Sponsors: Parker Equine Insurance, ShowConnect, Smartpak, Standlee Hay; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Park Equine Hospital, Mountain Horse, The Jockey Club; Saratoga Horseworks; Bronze Level Sponsors: 70 Degrees, Athletux, Black Petticoat, The Chronicle of the Horse, Devoucoux, Dubarry of Ireland, Equilume, FITS Riding, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, LandSafe Equestrian, Parks Tax & Consulting, Retired Racehorse Project, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis Contributing Level Sponsors: Big Ass Fans, CrossCountry App, FarmVet, GLC Direct, Haygain, John Deere, L.V. Harkness, Santa Cruz Animal Health; Prize Level Sponsors: American Saddlebred Horse Association, Astrid’s Oil, Bluegrass Animal Products, Dressage TestPro, EQuine AMerica Magazine, Flexible Fit Equestrian, Achieve Equine/FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips, Great British Equinery, Horse & Country, Hound & Hare, I Love My Horse, Mare Modern Goods, Romitelli Riding Boots, Strides for Equality Equestrians, Tack of the Town, VetBlue, The Equine Network, and Horse&Country
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