The Beginner Novice riders were the final competitors to tackle Derek di Grazia's cross-country track at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds.
Junior Beginner Novice 14 and Under
Maren Hanson and her own 24-year-old pony gelding In My Feelings stormed around Derek di Grazia’s Beginner Novice course to keep the lead in the Junior Beginner Novice 14 and Under division on a score of 28.3.
"It was really, really good,” Hanson said of her cross-country round. “He was very positive with everything. He slipped in the mud a little bit – it wasn’t really good footing right there in the water. I really liked the colorful jumps, they were just really pretty - those were really fun."
Hanson said that things could go either way tomorrow. “Sometimes he'll knock rails, sometimes he's really good about it."
Is she nervous? "Very." And what does she do to manage the nerves? "Breath. Just keep breathing."
Tessa Geven and Werner Geven’s 16-year-old Connemara gelding (Fieldstream Riley x Kahlua), Tullymor's Houdini retain their second-place position on 28.9. Molly Hunt and Falcons Grey Bar, her 19-year-old Paint mare, moved up from fourth to third on their dressage score of 29.4 after putting in a double clean cross-country round.
Junior Beginner Novice
Ava Stevens and Tamatha Stevens’ Two Against The World (Reputed Testamony x Black Orchid), an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, galloped across the country to maintain their lead in the Junior Beginner Novice division on 29.6.
“It was fantastic,” Stevens said of her cross-country ride. “He was a beast on cross-country – he was so good. I’m so happy with him. Jump number 11 was a bright, colorful fiesta table I was a little nervous going to that one, but he gave me the confidence I needed to be like, ‘We’re going!’ We went double clear, he was so good. I love cross-country, and he just gets so excited.”
“He’s normally great,” she said of how “Bogie” is in show jumping. “He’s very good about keeping the rails up.”
Aidan Goumas and Shannon Million’s Mister (Sahmx Sister Exploding), a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, preserved their score of 29.9 after a double-clear cross-country trip. Sadie Phifer and her own Gusty Day, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, moved into third place with a double clear round on 30.5.
Beginner Novice Amateur
Hannah Reeser and Virginia Reeser’s Ltl Ireland Summr Soldier (October Fox x Abby Darling), a 5-year-old Morgan mare, had a clear ride across the country to maintain the lead in the Beginner Novice Amateur division.
“She was perfect,” Reeser said. “She was really good. [The course] was fun. I rode everything to plan and it was a blast. She took a big leap into the first water and I had a laugh at that. Cross-country is her favorite phase – from the start box she knows her job, she’s gung ho, point me at whatever you want me to do and I’ll do it for you.”
Even though she’s nervous for tomorrow, Reeser knows that “Soldier” will jump clean as long as she doesn’t make any mistakes. “Leading up to this event we’ve been progressively getting better,” she said. “I’m super nervous for tomorrow because she can have an occasional rail now and then so to be in this position is just a lot. I’m just going to go out there and get on my horse. I trust my horse completely. For me, it’s just that I can’t screw up. If I don’t screw up she won’t touch a fence. It’s all me. If she brings a rail down it’s my fault.”
Lily Barlow and Big Bear's Cepheus (Cor De Lux c Big Bear’s Esther), Werner Geven’s 5-year-old Connemara gelding, remain in second place on their dressage score of 25.9. Laura Bolerjack and San Marcos de Colon (Don De Marco x Miss Florence), her 6-year-old Oldenburg gelding, moved up from fourth to third with a double clear round to sit on 28.3 going into tomorrow’s show jumping.
Beginner Novice Master Amateur
Carla Jimmerson and Valley Creek Carlin LeBeau (Heaven's Ridge Patrick LeBeau x Beacon's Cherubin Cathleet), her 14-year-old Connemara gelding, were fast and clean across the country to remain in first place on 25.1.
“It was great,” she enthused. “He started out just kind of full of himself, raring to go from the very beginning so I knew he was going to be full of himself and I just had to kind of relax and then once I did that he got in a good rhythm and was faultless the whole way through. It was really good, he never looked at anything. I was nervous on cross-country until I was done and then I was like, ‘Okay, that wasn’t so bad.’”
Jimmerson came to Champagne Run a month ago just to get a feel and see what it was like at the Kentucky Horse Park. “It’s completely different, other than the stalls. But this is more exciting, it’s in a whole different atmosphere.”
“He’s usually pretty good, she said. “He’ll be up, especially with all the atmosphere he’s going to be pretty looky, so I just have to keep him focused and try to balance him and not let him just run.”
Julie Cayer and her own Great Moments, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, still sit in second place on 25.5. Amy Winnen and her own 13-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar mare Galatea HU (Galant Du Serein x Rohmanie) remain in third place on 28.4.
Beginner Novice Rider
Sherry Pound and Gestalt (Gloriosus x Celine), her 7-year-old Mecklenburg gelding, put in a double clean cross-country round to stay in the lead in the Beginner Novice Rider division.
After going from second place to last place on cross-country at the 2018 USEA AEC, Pound was out for redemption this year. “He was a little bit strong but he was listening and being good,” she said. “We got through it – a little bit strong – but big circles in the back of the field helped us.”
“I like it all,” she said of the course. “There was a lot going on at the start and then it opened up and it was a nice rolling course after that. A bit spooky at the start but no problems. It was the fourth jump that he spooked at but there was nothing going on there.”
“He’s pretty good in the show jumping,” she shared. “He likes to be a bit strong but I think we’ve dialed it in a bit. We should be fairly good. Hopefully no unlucky rails. We’ll just see if we can hold on – we’re leading by a very small margin.”
Second and third place remain unchanged. Mckenna Martinez and her own Commitment, a 7-year-old Warmblood gelding, are in second place o 28.3 and Piper Uhl and her 11-year-old Warmblood gelding Finnegan round out the top three on 29.1.
Beginner Novice Horse
Alexa Ehlers and her 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding Clear Laveer (Rascalino x Hauptstutbuch Wincenta II) are still in the lead in the Beginner Novice Horse division after a flawless trip around Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course to stay on 26.1.
“I’m not going to lie, at the beginning, I was a little worried,” Ehlers admitted. “Fence 1 through 4 I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. But after he kind of got over fence 4 and we went to the first little turning combination, all of a sudden something switched and he was like, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, I know what we’re doing,’ But he was genuinely so confused. He just tries so hard, once he figured it out he was so genuine all the way around.”
“I think that it’s good that we went out and jumped around cross-country and he finished more confident out there,” Ehlers observed. “Hopefully we just take that and bring it forward. I trust him, I know he’s going to try hard. Sometimes he tries hard in not the right ways but hopefully, he tries hard in the right way tomorrow. We’ll find out.”
Kalie Beckers and her own Madoc Mari (Lidgett Meredith x Madoc Gwyneth), an 11-year-old Welsh mare, held onto their score of 28.4 for second place. Holly Payne Caravella and Mary Bancroft’s 4-year-old German Sport Horse gelding Dito 16 (Dr. Jackson D x Kassandra) round out the top three on 29.4.
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. This year, the AEC will be held August 27 – September 1 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. 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 AEC: Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsors: Bates Saddles, Equistro; Gold Level Sponsors: Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Parker Equine Insurance; Silver Level Sponsors: Mountain Horse; The Jockey Club, Park Equine; Bronze Level Sponsors: Arnall’s Naturals, State Line Tack, Black Petticoat, Devoucoux, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Horseware Ireland, LandSafe SmartPak, Dubarry, The Chronicle of the Horse, Stackhouse and Ellis Saddles, Auburn Laboratories, FITS Riding, Ovation, Lanier Sand and Soil, Event Cooling Solutions, Farm House Tack; Contributing Level Sponsors: Ariat, Meanwhile Back on the Farm, L.V. Harkness, Lexmark, GLC Direct, Georgetown Tourism, FarmVet, FLAIR Nasal Strips, Nunn Finer, RevitaVet, Resvantage Equine, CrossCountry App; Prize Level Sponsors: GumBits, Ride Heels Down, C4 Belts, I Love My Horse, Mare Modern Goods, Bluegrass Vibershield, Bluegrass Animal Products, Caracol, Active Interest Media, Astrid’s Oil, Baekgaard, On The Bit Horse Supplies, Luxe EQ, EQ AM Magazine, Jetti Spa, Great British Equinery, Foxden Equine, The Scoring Chix, Pure Form Equine; Competitor’s Party Sponsors:Jacqueline Mars, Kat and Roberto Cuca, United States Hunter Jumper Association, and United States Dressage Federation.
And they're off! Eventing kicks off today in Tokyo (Thursday, July 29 – 7:30 p.m. ET), with the first of three Olympic dressage sessions. Competitors from 29 nations will go head to head, vying for a spot on the coveted Olympic podium.
There were a few last-minute dramas at the first horse inspection for the Tokyo Olympics which took place in the main equestrian park at Baji Koen Equestrian Centre at 9:30 a.m. JST today.
It’s the most hotly anticipated few hours of the eventing year - the cross-country from Tokyo 2020. What will Derek di Grazia’s track have in store for the Olympic riders?
We’re nearly there! Olympic mania has taken over the world, and we’re in the final countdown to the Olympic eventing competition in Tokyo, which starts with the first horse inspection on Thursday. Our USA riders are raring to go, but let’s remind ourselves of the history that precedes them. Just how well has the US team done in past Olympics?