For Immediate Release: The first champions of the week were crowned on Thursday at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds as Bates USEA Preliminary and Intermediate division riders took to the final phase of show jumping in the Rolex Stadium at Kentucky Horse Park.
Bates USEA Preliminary Rider
At the finale of the Bates USEA Preliminary Rider division, Sophie Miller claimed the first tricolor ribbon of the competition. She and Laurie Cameron’s homebred mare Quarlotta C (Quite Capitol x Merging), a 12-year-old Oldenburg, produced a flawless round in the Rolex Stadium leaving all rails standing and clearing the timers with room to spare.
Miller, who was in third following the two prior phases, kept careful consideration of both the fences and the time to step out of the ring on her original 35.5
“I was really happy with her today,” stated Miller. “She came in the ring and was a little bit lit up today with the atmosphere, but I think it actually worked in our favor for time. She can be a little bit lazy and casual sometimes but I think she grew an extra hand from all the excitement, so I was able to just stay back and out of her way while she carried a good pace.”
The victory was extra special for the pair as it was Miller’s first time being a part of the AEC.
“It is just so awesome to be here amongst all of the top horses and riders in this sport,” she enthused. “It was really wonderful to be able to jump in the stadium and just be part of such an electric environment.”
The pair have had a busy season of preparation, only starting at the Training level at the beginning of the year but feeling confident after successfully winning their very first Preliminary event in Aiken, South Carolina.
“We competed in two Training events down in Florida before moving up to our first Preliminary which she won,” Miller added. “She also had super runs at Pine Top and Stable View, and we were even able to squeeze in a two-star event this year so it’s been a great year and I’m so looking forward to doing more now.”
Sallie Johnson and her 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Finnanloon Flight x Finnan Scarlet) Fermhill DiCaprio made an impressive leap from seventh place to second by crossing the finish without adding any additional penalties to their prior score of 35.8.
“To be honest, I didn’t feel like that was my best piece of riding,” detailed Johnson. “My nerves definitely got to me, but my horse is amazing; he just absolutely tried his heart out and was careful enough to leave all of the fences up.”
Rebecca Hunt and Snowflake Lane joined Miller and Johnson in a clean show jumping round finish to advance from the 13th position and round out the top three on a final 37.2. The 9-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Dunkirk x Correoso) mare was also the recipient of the Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP) high point award based on cumulative points acquired over the previous days of competition.
“I got my mare straight off the track as a 3-year-old and it has really been a journey since she is 9 years old now,” Hunt said. “She is very special to me.”
Bates USEA Preliminary Junior/Young Rider
Determined to hold on to her pinnacle position on the final day, young rider Vienna Allport fearlessly navigated the show jumping phase with DHI Zatopek B to maintain her previous score of only 28.3 for the win.
“We had a bit of a hard rub at the first fence, but other than that the round felt great,” explained Allport. “He was a bit of a live wire with the atmosphere, but he has a lot of experience so while he was forward, he still felt like he was riding great and jumping amazing.”
Allport is no stranger to the competition at the AEC, but both the Preliminary height and the partnership with her gelding are new developments for her.
“I came straight off a large pony to him so it has been an adjustment, but he has all of the experience,” she stated of the 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lando x Scaramouche B).
In an impressive feat, Cassie Sanger snatched up the remaining podium positions with Caroline Martin’s Danger Mouse and her own Redfield Fyre respectively. Sanger had taken over the early lead of the division with the experienced 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Kannan, Danger Mouse after the dressage phase but dropped into fourth the following day with an unfortunate eight time faults. The pair picked up the pace today to make their way to second place with no penalties in the show jumping.
“Danger Mouse is an absolutely incredible horse, and I’m so lucky to have him as I’m coming up the levels,” Sanger emphasized. “He is used to the energy and excitement here because he has done it at the upper levels so many times that as long as I can help keep him from getting tense he will perform great.”
On a roll, Sanger then calmly piloted her self-produced 8-year-old Warmblood gelding, Redfield Fyre, across another clean round which was efficient enough for the third-place honors.
“This is Redfield Fyre’s first season doing the Preliminary height so he is quite green but nothing really phases him,” she said. “I have produced him up the levels and he has really gotten so much stronger this year so as long as I ride well he is definitely able to produce a clear round.”
Elle Kay Lane and the 17-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Silver Charm x Do It) Double Dare earned the TIP award in the division as the top placed off-the-track Thoroughbred.
Bates USEA Preliminary Amateur
Holding tight to her lead from the combined dressage and cross-country scores, Arden Wildasin defended her title as the Preliminary Amateur division champion, this time with Southern Sun. She and Sarah Wildsain’s 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Boherdeal Clover x Birdhill Lady) moved up in the placings from third to first after the previous day’s cross-country efforts and performed a tidy round in the show jumping phase to land on a final 24.2.
“Today’s show jumping phase was definitely nerve-wracking and we had had the technical error of not quite finishing under the time yesterday,” she detailed. “I really rode forward today especially because he can be a bit spooky if allowed to look around, but he was really right there with me the entire time today which was an incredible feeling to have after the years we have put in together.”
As for the gelding’s future, Wildasin plans to continue to compete him up to whatever level he is most comfortable, stating that he would tell her when he had reached the end of his comfort zone and she would always base her plans off of his best interests.
Lisa Borgia moved up from third to second place to earn the reserve championship ribbon after a flawless round left her and Silmarillon on a total of 27.4
“He is extremely honest, but he has a little bit of first-fence phobia,” Borgia described of the 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Joey Franco x Lil Mo Rhythm). “I was really pleased to see the first fence was as inviting as it was and that gave me a lot of confidence coming into the round itself. Overall, he has been phenomenal this weekend from his dressage test Tuesday in the pouring rain to his performance today.”
Silmarillon was also the TIP winner of the division with the lowest score of 27.4.
With one unfortunate rail in the final phase, Michelle Koppin and the 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Carass x Z-Whitney) Calcourt Valley dropped down to the third place position on a finishing score of 29.6.
“I am disappointed about the one rail we had but otherwise I feel like we had a pretty solid round today despite that,” Koppin affirmed. “He jumped super and unfortunately I think just took a peek at the grandstands and got a bit flat on fence four. Even so, he gave me the best feeling to be able to jump around in this big ring with how little we’ve done so far and being relatively new to each other. I’m very blessed he is such a genuine horse.”
Wildasin managed to manufacture a double-victory in the Adult Team Championships as team Wild Kat Nellies consisting of Arden Wildasin with Southern Sun and Tokyo Drift, Wisti Nelson and Mr. Barron, and Katlyn Hewson-Sleazak with Fernhill Choco Royale totaled a final team score of 95.9 for the win.
Bates USEA Preliminary Horse
Seasoned professional Liz Halliday-Sharp and her talented mount, Shanroe Cooley, held the lead all the way to the very end in the Preliminary Horse division. From the start, the 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dallas x Shanroe Sapphire) set himself apart from the crowd, picking up a lead of almost two points over the rest of the division with 28.5 and maintaining flawless performances in the remaining phases.
“He is an incredibly unique young horse in the way that he is not phased by a big atmosphere or energy,” said Halliday-Sharp. “This was a huge class and obviously I came here hoping to do well but it’s even nicer to have been able to lead from the start.”
No stranger to producing top horses, Halliday-Sharp has big goals for the Ocala Horse Properties’ gelding. “I think the world of this horse and there is no doubt in my mind he has a really big future. Richard Sheane of Cooley Farms looked me dead in the eye when I got him and said ‘you aren’t going to want to sell this one’ and he was definitely right.”
Halliday-Sharp and Shanroe Cooley were the recipients of the President's Trophy in honor of Jo Whitehouse. This trophy is presented to the highest placed graduate of the Young Event Horse Program in the Preliminary Horse division.
Martin Douzant piloted the 6-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding Olympus (Ferro x Kallisto) up to second place from the sixth position by clocking in under the time allowed with no jumping faults to maintain his original score of 30.4.
“We have had Olympus since he was a 2-year-old so he has been a part of our program for a long time now,” Douzant stated. “It is so rewarding to see him being successful at this level now
After a successful upbringing with Douzant, plans are in the works for Olympus to return to owner Gillian Kingsbury at the end of the season.
“I am so thrilled, this has been a wonderful way to finish our partnership and season,” Douzant finished.
Dana Cooke and FE Quattro made the biggest leap of the division, trading in their position at the 12th spot to take the yellow ribbon. She and Diana Crawford’s 7-year-old German Warmblood gelding rounded out the top three fault-free scores with a final penalty of 31.4.
“I acquired FE Quattro basically the first week he got to the United States as a 5-year-old and he has quickly proven to be a very fancy little guy,” commented Cooke. “He has taken a little bit of time to mature mentally but he really stepped up this weekend and was quite good everywhere.”
Cooke added, “I think he has hopefully a good career ahead of him to return to this event and then potentially to be on the team for the Canadians at some point down the road.”
The TIP winner in the Preliminary Horse division was awarded to Briggs Surratt and Rick Wallace's 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Americain x Boomanji) Booming Bodhran on a score of 34.0.
The Intermediate division ended on a one-two finish with early favorite Leslie Law. The veteran professional had a flawless weekend on Jackie and Steve Brown’s 10-year-old Holsteiner mare(Connor x Jucy) Lady Chatterley having never missed a beat and finishing on her original dressage score of 25.5.
“She was more lit up than usual so I had a bit of a different horse today than I normally do,” Law detailed. “She was a bit sharper and more wired but she came into the ring and did her job and did it really well.”
“We have had to take our time with her because she certainly can have a mind of her own some days,” he continued on. “This past year she has really come into her own though so I think she is ready to move up.”
In his first ride in the show jumping phase, Law went clean and steady in order to earn the reserve champion ribbon with Craig McCallum’s Typically Fernhill.
“I only got him two years ago but he too has come along quite quickly,” Law described of the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dondoctro Ryal K x Castlefield Sarah). “He only had about 12 months of Preliminary schooling and then he went into Intermediate at this time last year so he is very exciting as well.
“This is a wonderful venue and you know you are going to get a great course because Derek [di Grazia] is the course designer and you’ve got the terrain as well which produces a good test,” he finished in regards to competing at AEC. “For me, it is a good measure of where my horses are and what they are ready to do.”
Karl Slezak rounded out the top three on the 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse horse mare (VDL Arkansas x Taneys Leader) Hot Bobo by also producing a fault-free show jumping round for a final cumulative score of 30.7.
“We got this mare as a 4-coming-5-year-old and she had only done a couple of Novice events at the time but once we got her she moved along really quickly,” Slezak described. “She is really just the best— she is lovely to be around in the barn and she tries her absolute best. I expected her to be a lot more impressed with the environment but she was in such a work mode.
“I was thrilled with the cross-country phase this weekend,” he continued. “She was absolutely spot on and proved to me that she is up for the task. I have several horses that do not have much Thoroughbred in them and she actually does, so, there are several more gears in her that enable her to go faster.”
Megan Sykes and Classic's Mojah were the recipients of the A. Martin Simensen, DVM Memorial Trophy. The trophy is awarded to the lowest scoring junior/young rider (16-25) in the Intermediate Division.
Breakin' All the Rules ridden by Ellen Doughty-Hume were the winners of the Jockey Club's TIP Award for the Intermediate.
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
The USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) has initiated a renewed focus on the diverse challenges coaches in various regions of the country may be facing. To this end, the program is in the process of enlisting representatives in each of the 10 USEA areas to help guide the program as warranted for the unique needs of each specific area.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has opened nominations for the annual appreciation awards through Oct. 29. This is an opportunity for the sport to recognize those horses and riders who excelled in eventing throughout the year. It is also an opportunity to recognize and honor the very important people who have served the sport tirelessly both in a non-riding capacity and riding capacity during their golden years.
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The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has made five rule changes which will go into effect October 1, 2023. Familiarize yourself with these rule changes below to make sure you are in compliance before heading out for your next event.