May 31, 2017

Looking Ahead to the 2017 FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff
2016 Holekamp/Turner Grant Recipient, Fleeceworks Royal, leaving the start box at Le Lion D'Angers. Photo Courtesy of Judith McSwain.

It may still seem ages away, but for one talented U.S. Young Event Horse, the 2017 FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses at Le Lion D’Angers has been years in the making. For the third year, the Holekamp/Turner Young Event Horse Lion d’Angers Prize and Grant will award the highest scorer of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) 5-year-old Championships, both East and West Coast Championships combined, with a cash prize that will enable them to travel to Le Lion d’Angers in France for the 7-year-old two-star Championships. North American bred Grant winners will be awarded with $17,500 to travel to Le Lion d’Angers while an imported horse will be awarded $8,000. The intention of this prize is to further develop an upward pathway for U.S. team horses in eventing.

Each year that the YEH program grows, so do the expectations for its graduates as we see the field get stronger. “Since the Holekamp/Turner Grant [was announced], all our entries have skyrocketed, and it’s not just that they’re higher, but the quality of horses is much better,” said Marilyn Payne, co-chair of the YEH Committee.  

The goal for this grant is to give these talented young horses their first of many international appearances. “We’d like to see in the long term that these horses be trained and developed to then compete internationally for the U.S.,” Payne said. “There are horses getting up there. There are quite a few [YEH graduates] that have gone through the three- and four-star level. We want to keep developing that.”

“It showcases our horses to the rest of the world. People think you need to go to Europe to get a good horse, and we’re trying to develop our breeding program to produce top quality horses so that our riders don’t need to go to Europe to buy. This is a great way to show that we do breed top quality horses that can stand up to the rest of the world in competition.”

D.A. Duras competing at the 2015 Le Lion D'Angers. Libby Law Photo.

Past Grant Recipients

This first Holekamp/Turner Grant was awarded in 2015 to Debbie Adams’ D. A. Duras (Numero Uno x Medoc) who placed 5th at the 2013 USEA YEH East Coast Championships as a 5-year-old. Bred by Paul Hendrix, Duras was imported by Adams from the Netherlands as a 4-year-old. Ridden by Kelly Prather, he went on to finish ninth at the 2015 Le Lion d’Angers. Duras is now co-owned by Adams and Jacqueline Mars, and Lauren Kieffer has taken over as his primary rider. The pair finished 11th at the 2016 Fair Hill International CCI3* and recently won the Advanced division at the 2017 Chattahoochee Hills H.T.

Fleeceworks Royal, owned by Judith McSwain and bred by Charlotte Wrather of Cottonwood Ranch, was the second recipient and first American-bred winner of the Holekamp/Turner Grant. Ridden by Tamra Smith, the Holsteiner mare (Riverman x Marisol) went on to finish in 24th place at the 2016 Le Lion d’Angers. “Rory” as she is known in the barn has now moved up to Advanced and recently finished her first CIC3* in fourth place at the April Twin Rivers H.T.

Will Coleman riding Dondante at the 2015 USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Who’s in Contention for 2017?

A total of 44 horses competed in YEH East and West Coast 5-year-old Championships in 2015, and so far four have earned partial Le Lion qualification and two have completed the qualification requirements.

Scoring an 81.96, Team Rebecca LLC’s Dondante was the fourth-placing 5-year-old in 2015. Ridden by Will Coleman, the Irish Sport Horse gelding earned his CCI* qualifier at the 2016 Midsouth Three-Day Event. If he earns a qualifying score at a CIC2* he will be the top contender for the 2017 Grant.

Heather Morris and Get Rowdy. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Eighth-placed Get Rowdy is fully qualified for Le Lion with rider Heather Morris. Owned by The Team Express Group LLC, Get Rowdy won the 2016 Rebecca Farm CCI* and finished third at the 2016 Galway Downs CCI*. The Dutch Warmblood gelding (Baltic VDL x 2. Unellie) moved up to the two-star level in 2017 and earned his CIC2* qualification with a second-place finish at the Galway Downs H.T. If Dondante doesn’t complete his CIC2* qualification or is unable to attend, the Grant will be awarded to Get Rowdy.

The highest qualified American-bred is Nina Gardner’s Twilightslastgleam (National Anthem x Royal Child). The Thoroughbred gelding is ridden by Jennie Brannigan and had the 13th highest score in 2015 with a 77.61. He is fully qualified for Le Lion with CCI*s at Virginia and the Ocala Jockey Club in 2016 and CIC2*s at Carolina, Fair Hill and Jersey Fresh in 2017.

The other three horses who have achieved their CCI* qualifications, but still need CIC2*s are KBLB’s Highly Suspicious (14th place), Maya Black’s Mowgli (32nd place) and Colleen Rutledge’s Confidence Game (40th place).

What you need to know

  • Le Lion D’Angers is being held from October 19-22, 2017
  • The event is in France, about 2 hours and 30 minutes south east of Paris.
  • Only 70 horses are allowed to participate in the CH-2*
  • To qualify each horse must have finished a CCI* and CIC2* with zero jumping penalties on cross-country and a maximum of one rail down in show jumping
  • Principle entries are due August 18, nominated entries on September 18 and definite entries on October 9.

The USEA is very thankful to Timothy Holekamp of New Spring Farm and Christine Turner of Indian Creek Farm for spearheading this Grant and raising funds to support it.  

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