Over 88,000 spectators flocked to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky April 27-May 1 for the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian. Excitingly enough, at least one American-bred horse sat in the top three each day of the competition, with the ultimate treat on the final day when the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program graduate and American-bred Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy) ridden by Doug Payne finished in third and was declared USEF National Five-Star Champion.
The YEH program is popular amongst many competitors as a pathway to introduce young horses to the sport of eventing. This well-established program was founded in 2004, and the program’s goal is to identify 4- and 5-year-old horses that possess the talent and disposition that, with proper training, can excel in the four-star and five-star levels of eventing.
Over the course of the weekend, nine YEH graduates gave it their all and five of those pairs successfully completed their five-star weekend with the highest placed YEH graduate being Quantum Leap, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding bred in the U.S. by Elizabeth Callahan and owned and ridden by Doug Payne. In his YEH career, Quantum Leap finished in third in 2015 in the USEA YEH East Coast 4-year-old Championships and seventh in 2016 in the USEA YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championships. Later, Quantum Leap was named the 2018 Holekamp/Turner grant recipient and he and Payne represented the U.S. at the FEI World Breeding Eventing 7-year-old Championships at La Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France.
At Kentucky, the young horse’s third outing at the five-star level, Quantum Leap closed out the weekend having just added 1.2 time penalties on cross-country to his dressage score to move up from 25th following dressage to third after show jumping with a score of 38.4. Quantum Leap was also the highest-placed YEH graduate at the Inaugural Maryland 5 Star in October of 2021 where he finished ninth overall, proving that this exciting young eventing superstar is only getting started in his promising career.
“We have four horses that [Callahan has] bred so this is the start of the pipeline of horses coming. To get here, [Qauntum Leap] certainly blew my expectations away. He continues to get better and better. I couldn’t ask for much more," Payne shared following the event.
The second highest-placing YEH graduate competing in Kentucky was the 2012 YEH graduate Tsetserleg TSF (Windfall 2 x Thabana) who is a 15-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner, bred by Timothy Holekamp, and ridden by Boyd Martin. Tsetserleg, known as “Thomas” in the barn, competed in the USEA YEH program as a 5-year-old with Cristin Stoop and later completed his first five-star at Kentucky in 2018 where he and Martin finished 11th. Easily one of the most notable YEH graduates of recent years, Thomas and Martin have represented the U.S. at the 2018 Tryon World Equestrian Games, the 2019 Lima Pan American Games (where they brought home individual and team gold), and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
At the 2022 LRK3DE, Martin and Thomas were one of only three pairs to go double-clear across Derek di Grazia’s cross-country track, moving them up from sixth to third going into the show jumping phase on their dressage score of 29.4
“It was smooth sailing for Thomas,” Martin shared following cross-country. “I couldn’t have been happier with him. I feel like we are in a place in our career now where he really knows his job. It was a good course, and I was very, very pleased with how it went today. I’m expecting him to come prancing out of the stall tomorrow.”
An unfortunate two rails in show jumping ultimately bumped the pair from third to fourth overall, but nonetheless an excellent finish for the pair.
Closing out the weekend in Kentucky in seventh place was Team Rebecca LLC’s Irish Sport Horse gelding Dondante (Pacino x Muckno Clover) ridden by Will Coleman. As a 5-year-old, Dondante finished third with a score of 81.96 in the 2015 USEA YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championship with Coleman in the irons. He completed his first five-star in 2021 at the inaugural Maryland 5 Star where he ended the weekend with a top-15 finish.
Following dressage where he scored a 37.4, Dondante sat in 26th place but quickly moved up to 10th after adding just four time penalties to his score in cross-country. It was his double clear show jumping round, however, that would ultimately place him inside the top 10 on a score of 41.4.
Also finishing within the top 15 was Off the Record (VDL Arkansas x Drumagoland Bay) who is a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, also ridden by Coleman. Off the Record finished in ninth in the 2014 USEA YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championships with Coleman and has since built an impressive career as an event horse racking up 14 top three finishes in FEI events and becoming the first-ever American pair to win the CCI4*-S at Aachen.
The 2022 LRK3DE was only Off the Record’s second five-star appearance, so a 12th place finish overall is quite respectable. Following a 32.5 in dressage, the horse would go on to just add 7.2 time penalties to his score in cross-country. He would have two rails down in show jumping, moving him down to 12th place, but all-in-all he put in a great performance and leaves much to look forward to over the remainder of his career.
Rounding out the top-15 was Colleen Rutledge’s homebred Covert Rights (BFF Incognito x Let's Get It Right). The 2011 YEH graduate finished fifth at the 2010 USEA YEH East Coast 4-year-old Championship and seventh in the 2011 USEA YEH East Coast 5-year-old Championship. Kentucky marked the pair’s sixth five-star outing together.
The 16-year-old Thoroughbred cross gelding sat in third following the first day of dressage, a feat that left Rutledge beaming: “This feels amazing sitting on my personal homebred. It’s awesome. He’s amazing to ride, and he puts a smile on my face every day.” After the second day of dressage, the pair would be bumped down to tenth overall with a score of 33.8. They would have 14.4 time penalties on cross-country to push them to 16th, but after only having one rail down in the show jumping they moved up to 15th overall.
Four other YEH graduates contested the five-star at the LRK3DE: Let It Be Lee (Bernstein x Sugaree), a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by Donna Biggs and ridden by Elisa Wallace, and Emporium (Cartano x UPANA), a Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Ashley Creek Stables and ridden by Ashlynn Meuchel, were both eliminated during cross-country. PFun (Tadmus x Celerina), a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Jennifer Mosing and ridden by Will Faudree, and Fleeceworks Royal (Riverman x Marisol), a 13-year-old American bred Holsteiner mare owned by Judith McSwain and ridden by Tamra Smith, both elected to retire on cross-country.
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 aged four and five, 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 four- and five-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 to learn more about the Young Event Horse Program.
The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, SmartPak, Standlee Premium Products, Parker Equine Insurance, Capital Square, Kerrits, and The Jockey Club for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program. Additionally, the USEA would like to thank The Dutta Corp., Title Sponsor of the Young Event Horse Championship
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