It was a busy day on Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course at the Kentucky Horse Park with the one Intermediate division and four Preliminary divisions of the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds taking their turn across the country.
Bates Preliminary Amateur
Area III’s Arden Wildasin celebrated her birthday in an exciting way today, moving up from second to first and from third to second after the cross-country phase of AEC competition. Wildasin and James Wildasin’s 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding Watch Out (by Concorde) dominated the Preliminary Amateur division, jumping clear to continue on into the final phase of competition on their dressage score of 28.6.
Wildasin and her second mount, Sarah Wildasin’s 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Southern Sun (Boherdeal Clover x Birdhill Lady), will ride into tomorrow’s show jumping phase in second place with a 28.8. “My horses were very happy with cross-country,” she exclaimed. “They loved today and I loved today, it was fantastic. Walter, who is sitting in first right now, I’ve had him for almost ten years, so he’s one of my fun Preliminary kids. He won’t go above that, but we just have so much fun together doing that. With Sunny, this is his second year at this level. He was out there answering all of the questions that were being asked. They didn’t do anything wrong. I might’ve done something, but they were there to save me.”
Of the track, Wildasin said: “The course was fantastic. It’s awesome galloping across Kentucky ground. I’ve come here before, but coming [to the AEC], this event has a bit of a different feel. It’s a great track, asked tough questions - my favorite being the bank bounce with the log on top. That was fun!”
Elle de Recat and Bruisyard Hall (Sought After x The Borg Queen), Shelby Godfrey’s 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, moved up from ninth to third after a double clear round to sit on a score of 33.1 going into tomorrow’s show jumping.
Bates Preliminary Horse
Bobby Meyerhoff and his own and The Donavan Group’s 8-year-old Mecklenburg mare Lumumba (Levisonn x Lamara) were fast and clean across the country today to remain atop the leaderboard in the Bates Preliminary Horse division on their dressage score of 26.9.
“She was good, she was fast,” Meyerhoff said. “I asked her to go faster than I’ve ever made her go before. My first horse got eliminated at fence five, so I couldn’t really gauge how fast I needed to go. I ran the Intermediate with my little mare and I couldn’t make the time. That concerned me that I wouldn’t be able to make the time [in the Preliminary] because she’s a big horse. I had to put some pressure on her and really gallop, and I felt some things I had never felt before which I was impressed by. She was attentive and obedient and didn’t spook at anything. She’s a super cool horse.”
“I’ve never ridden her like I rode her today, so I don’t know how tomorrow is going to go,” he continued. “Hopefully she’ll be a good girl tomorrow. She’s got plenty of scope, she’s a big jumper. I wouldn’t say she’s freaky careful, which is a good thing – I don’t like the event horses to be like that. But she’s certainly careful enough. If I give her a good enough ride, she’s going to be great.”
Kristen Bond and her 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Bea Ready (Haarlem x Izora) moved up to second even after picking up two time penalties to sit on 29.3 going into show jumping tomorrow. Kyle Carter and Brandon Blackstock’s 8-year-old gelding Galliard’s Lancer round out the top three on their dressage score of 27.5.
Bates Junior/Young Rider Preliminary
Leila Saxe and Quasar (Quando Quando x Fanessa), her 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, came in five seconds under the optimum time to move into the lead in the Bates Junior/Young Rider Preliminary division, maintaining their dressage score of 26.4.
“Quasar was super,” she said. “He jumped around like a star. He was five seconds under time and he was just perfect. He’s very solid and he jumps pretty much everything. He’s very perfect, he listens to everything. He’s a little bit nervous sometimes but he’s perfect.”
The pair, who train with Kyle and Jennifer Carter, came all the way from Florida to contest the AEC. “[The drive] was good, but it was very long. We left at 4:00 a.m. – it was 12 hours.”
Saxe has been competing for the last four years, two of which she has spent with Quasar. “I got him from Buck Davidson – he had run an old three-star but he needs to be a lower level horse. I did an Intermediate on him and it went really well so we just moved down to Preliminary for the AEC and then after we’re going to do the three-star at Stable View.”
Savannah Blackstock and Brandon Blackstock’s Garryndruig Albie (Arkansas x Diamond Albie), a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, moved up from fifth place to second on a score of 29.3 after putting in a double-clear round. Taylor McFall and Jennifer McFall’s 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding High Times (Hunter x Gerda I) and Isabel Finemore and Andrew Hoy’s 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding Rutherglen (Ramires x Ramona) also both jumped double-clear to sit tied for third place on 29.8.
Bates Preliminary Rider
Julia Spatt and 5o1 Macintosh (Gatsby x Folie a Deux), her 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, were one of four double-clear rounds in the Bates Preliminary Rider division this afternoon to move from third place to first place on their dressage score of 29.6.
“I was definitely feeling a little bit nervous in the warmup hearing about some of the trouble on course and I knew that the time was going to be really hard to make, but he was really on,” Spatt said. “He was listening the whole way around and he was actually really good to me in two of the combinations where I wasn’t exactly right and he gave me a really great feeling all the way around. I had to really keep kicking to make the time though, we just kept going and he was right there with me. I’m really pleased.”
Spatt bought “Mac” as a 5-year-old from Jacob Fletcher, who she was working for at the time. “Jacob did his first two Novices but I’ve done everything since then, so his first Training, his first Preliminary, his first FEI, and he actually ran his first Intermediate this summer,” Spatt explained. “He’s a really exciting horse and I’ve had him for four years so we’ve had a really long partnership and we know each other really well. It’s cool to still be together and he seems like he gets better every year.”
In fact, the pair were the winners of the Preliminary Amateur Championships at the 2018 USEA AEC at The Colorado Horse Park. “I can no longer declare as an amateur because I work for a college as a coach,” Spatt explained, “but we managed to win last year which was a little surprising and unexpected and really exciting. We were planning to come and try to be competitive this year so it’s exciting that it’s worked out so far.”
Looking to tomorrow’s final phase of the competition, Spatt said she’s seated on a good jumper, if only she can keep the nerves at bay. “I tend to get a little nervous and can ride a little backwards sometimes but if I give him a good ride he’s great. He’s careful, he’s listening, sometimes he just gets a little bold and will get a little strong, but if I can keep him rideable he’s a wonderful jumper.”
Carolyn Wehle and Amy Winnen’s Edelmann, a 12-year-old Polish Warmblood gelding (El Bundy x Soja), remain in second place on a score of 29.9 after picking up a single time fault on today’s cross-country. Megan Edwards and Kathleen Fitzgerald’s 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Loughnatousa Reiner (Crannagh Hero x Loughnatousa Elsa) also picked up a single time fault to sit in third place on a score of 30.5.
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.
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.