Aug 30, 2019

Novice Riders Take on AEC Cross-Country

Crockett Miller and Mr. Panda. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Six divisions of Novice riders at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds tested their mettle on Derek di Grazia's cross-country course today at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Junior Novice 15 and Under

Crockett Miller and Mr. Panda (Abbeyfield Comet x Clooneen Tara Lady), her 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, jumped a double clear round to maintain the lead in the Junior Novice 15 and Under division on a score of 26.5.

“Cross-country is always his favorite phase,” Miller said. “We did two Trainings beforehand and the speed is different. Today I really had to ask him to kind of come back and it was crazy because he’s usually hard to hold back even on a nice, forward pace and today he just respected it and got great distances and a nice slow pace. It was crazy because we’re at Kentucky and everything is going perfectly.”

“We ran through the Head of the Lake and I didn’t have a great jump in because I didn’t really add leg, I sort of dropped him a bit, but we got into the water and his canter was so uphill because he was picking his feet up and I couldn’t help but smile because that’s where I watched Michael Jung jump off the huge drop and I’m about to canter up and jump right there. It’s crazy.”

“He is usually perfect and I am usually full of nerves,” Miller admitted. “He can pick up his feet like crazy and it's insane if you look at some of the photos – he’ll take off from about 20 feet back and his knees are up to his chin and he’s making sure everything stays up. Sometimes he’ll tap it but he’ll make sure it’s just enough to where it stays in.”

Finley Habenicht and her 15-year-old Trakehner mare Aleta NSF (Windfall x Astra) jumped double clean to remain in second place on 26.6. Annabella Friend and Contessa, her 13-year-old Quarter Pony mare moved up from fourth to third after a double clean ride on 30.7.

Adalee Ladwig and Diego. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Junior Novice

Adalee Ladwig and Diego, her own 10-year-old Oldenburg by Balta Czar, were double clean across the country this evening to hold onto the lead in the Junior Novice division.

“It was good, I went a little too fast in the beginning and then the second to last jump I was almost 2 minutes ahead to I had to do a couple of circles but it ended good,” she said. “I liked the second water where I swooped around and went to the jump that was outside of it – that was fun. I don’t think I took many breaths the whole time because I was so focused but I liked the whole course, it flowed pretty good.”

“I feel pretty confident,” she said of tomorrow’s show jumping. “As long as I can keep him together and focused on the jump he’s really good.”

Stephanie Cordell and Codename Toby, Amanda Tamminga’s 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Treasure Cove x Go Bubby Go) remain in second place on a score of 28.8. Haley Miller and Mr. Melvin, her own 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Compromise x Leona’s Hope) picked up a single time fault to sit in third place on 30.0.

Courtney Cooper and Hunting Stars. KTB Creative Group.

Novice Horse

Courtney Cooper sat tied with herself for second place after dressage yesterday and now sits tied with herself once again, this time for first place, aboard her own and Neal Camens’ 4-year-old Holsteiner mare Hunting Stars (Hunter x Heavenly Star) and Dare to Dream Team’s 4-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Excel Star Time to Shine (Luidam x Lismore Bella), on a score of 29.3

Cooper’s 10-hour drive from Pennsylvania turned into a 22-hour trip when they encountered trouble with their truck on the way down to Kentucky. “All of the horses are very tired and a bit flat, the babies especially. It’s a long week and they’re hot and they’re tired – even without the 22-hour ship they would be hot and tired.”

Hunting Stars, or “Joy” as she is known in the barn, is a homebred and a full sister to Courtney Cooper’s five-star horse Who’s a Star. “She was an embryo transfer out of his mother and she’s by Hunter, who stands on the West Coast. We’re very excited about her. She’ll do the 4-year-old Championships in October at Fair Hill so I’ll have her there and it’ll be fun.

“She’s a pretty good show jumper, but she’s 4,” Cooper said frankly. “We came here because, while I’d like to do well tomorrow and I hope for the best, my goal is to continue to her career and educate her. It’s a great place to get a lot of mileage but I don’t know if she is going to come in here and think that this is awe-inspiring or put her head down and go to work. She’s a pretty smart young lady for four [years old] . . . we have high hopes for her.”

Excel Star Time to Shine was imported through Cooper’s business in December. “He’s just a very sweet, good boy. When we got him he was all legs and all body in all places – we called him spider legs – but he’s come into his own. He’s very kind and very sweet. He’s also a good jumper, but he’s also 4 [years old], so anything can happen. But I’m thrilled to be tied with myself!”

Sitting in third place on a score of 29.4, just 0.1 points behind Cooper’s two horses, is Lauren Chumley and her own Santa Barbara Dash (San City x Barcarole), a 6-year-old Oldenburg mare.

Kaitlyn Brittendall and Blyth's Madeline GS. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Novice Amateur

The top three in the Novice Amateur division remain unchanged as all three riders were fast and clean across the country this afternoon.

Kaitlyn Brittendall and her own 10-year-old Trakehner mare (Heling x Marionette GS) Blyth's Madeline GS maintained their hold on the lead on their dressage score of 26.3

“She was so happy,” Brittendall said of their cross-country round. “I literally had to hold her off the fences. I had to circle once, she just loved it.”

Brittendall thinks Bobby Murphy’s course looks like “a lot of fun. I’m excited to ride in the Rolex Stadium – I’m really excited about that, but it is a bit atmosphere and she tends to get a little spooky. If I’m there, she’s fine. I can feel it, I’ll know.”

“She’s pretty careful if I ride her correctly,” she continued. “It’s me – I need to do good. I want to take my time [in warmup] and not be rushed. I’m going to come down pretty early so I can just chill, breathe, and get the nerves out of my head. She’s pretty good about warmup, she doesn’t need a lot of it. She’s pretty calm.”

Emily Cardin and Schwalbestrum, her own 16-year-old Trakehner gelding (Bright White x Sommer Schwalbe) remain in second place on 29.3 for second and Erin Walker and Mth Shannondale Khaleesi, her own 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Shannondale Sarco ST Ghyvan x Greygrove Salle), sit solidly in third place on 30.7.

Madeline Bletzacker and Drummer Boy. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Novice Rider

Madeline Bletzacker and her 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Drummer Boy (Don Principe x Winterzauber) are on the hunt for their 50th USEA recognized win this weekend, and after today’s cross-country they’re two-thirds of the way there.

“My ride on Drummer Boy started out perfect, as usual,” Bletzacker said. “He pulled me to every jump. Somehow he lost a front shoe but we got it put back on and he was fine but he never bobbled.”

Bletzacker has also competed successfully in the hunters with Drummer Boy, but said it doesn’t compare to what he’ll face in the Rolex Stadium tomorrow. “Yes, [he’s a good jumper] but it doesn’t look like this. The only time I’ve done something in a bigger ring was at the AEC three years ago and he didn’t get a fair warmup because they wouldn’t let my other horse run out of order. I didn’t have time – he had five minutes [warmup].”

This year, Bletzacker made sure to get permission for her other horse to run out-of-order so she’ll have plenty of time for a proper warmup for Drummer Boy. “[I’ll] gallop him around a little bit, pop over some jumps. There’s nothing I can do out there to prepare him for this besides to have him warmed up well because I don’t get a chance to go in there. I just need to have him settled.”

Leighanne Sadley and her own Licorice, a 12-year-old Irish Draught Sport Horse mare (Snowford O’Donnell x Diamond Spring Fever), sit in second on 26.7. Julie Kuhle and Orion, an 11-year-old Appaloosa Sport Horse gelding (JS Ebony N Ivory x Lucinda), lie in third on a score of 27.9.

Jane Musselman and Engapore. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Novice Master Amateur

Jane Musselman and Engapore (Singapore x Orize), her own 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, retained their lead in the Novice Master Amateur on their score of 27.4 after a double clear cross-country round.

“This is the third time we’ve ever run cross-country and it keeps getting better,” she stated. “We’re finally really clicking and we both had a ball out there today. [The course] was so beautiful, it flowed around – it was all perfect. Everything rode so nicely and I loved doing two waters.”

“I watched some Training horses [show jump] today and I went myself this afternoon. I think it’s a really nice course but obviously I’ll be a little bit nervous for tomorrow – I don’t have a rail in hand or anything. He’s really good. We’ve only done it a couple times now but he’s super honest and I feel like he’s getting more rideable for me. He’s a good guy.”

Second and third place also remain unchanged. Cherye Huber and her own Sam I Am (Cameo’s Reflection x Castle War Rebel), a 13-year-old British Sport Horse gelding, are 0.2 points behind the leaders on a score of 27.6. Cindy De Porter and Ana D, her 13-year-old Hanoverian mare by Waldord, round out the top three on 28.8.

The Novice show jumping starts at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow in the Rolex Stadium.

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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.

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