The four Bates Preliminary divisions of the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds wrapped up today in the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Bates Preliminary Rider
Even picking up two time penalties couldn’t stop Julia Spatt and 5o1 Macintosh (Gatsby x Folie a Deux), her 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, from taking home top honors in the Bates Preliminary Rider division on a 30.4.
“He was a little keen in warmup, I think he was a little excited after going fast yesterday so I kind of had to work on toning him down, keeping the rideability and getting him to listen, but once we got in the ring he really stayed with me, he was really listening and its one of our best show jumping rounds together to date so I’m just thrilled.”
Having won the 2018 USEA AEC Preliminary Amateur division last year and now taking home the blue in the Preliminary Rider division this year, Spatt said it’s an unexpected honor to be a two-time winner. “We got very lucky last year it just kind of happened and wasn’t expected. This year I thought my preparation was a lot better and the hope was a top-five finished so I’m just beyond thrilled he made such improvements in all three phases. I’m just blown away by the horse, he deserves the win more than anything.”
“It's one of the longest partnerships I’ve had with a horse so it’s been really cool to produce him through the levels,” she said. “I just know him like the back of my hand and he knows me so well. It’s cool looking at the courses to see how challenging they are and know that I’m sitting on the horse I want to be on to tackle these challenges and that I can trust him to stay with me pretty much no matter what.”
Megan Edwards and Kathleen Fitzgerald’s 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Loughnatousa Reiner (Crannagh Hero x Loughnatousa Elsa) had a single rail down but still moved up from third to second place on a score of 34.5.
“I feel very blessed to have the ride,” said Edwards, commenting on her one-year partnership with Loughnatousa Reiner. “I wasn’t expecting it and I’ve just formed a partnership with him this year and the owner have let me really do a good job of sticking to a plan and every show it’s showing. I had the unfortunate rail but he was such a good boy. He tries really hard – he’s a good Irish horse with a good heart.”
Carolyn Wehle and Amy Winnen’s Edelmann (El Bundy x Soja), a 12-year-old Polish Warmblood gelding, had two rails down but only dropped from second place to third, finishing on a score of 37.9.
My ride was good,” Wehle said. “He obviously could have been better, he had two rails – it’s not really typical of him. I don’t know if he was just distracted by the atmosphere, but he finished really well.”
“He was great yesterday – he ran his little heart out, had one time penalty yesterday,” she continued. “His dressage was phenomenal, for him it was probably his best test to date in eventing. He’s pretty green at this level and he jumped around like a rockstar yesterday and I really have no complaints. He was great.”
Bates Junior/Young Rider Preliminary
Savannah Blackstock and Brandon Blackstock’s Garryndruig Albie (Arkansas x Diamond Albie) jumped double clean today to take home the blue ribbon on their dressage score of 29.3.
“That horse is incredible,” Blackstock said of the 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. “Show jumping is not my favorite part of this sport but I came in there and he’s such a good boy – he always knows when he’s competing and he just went in there and ate it up. He was so good. It was such a fun ride.”
The 18-year-old moved to Florida when she was 14 years old. Originally it was just supposed to be for the winter, but she ended up moving down full-time to continue working with her trainer, Kyle Carter. “I fell in love with the program and the horses . . . it has been the most amazing journey. I have learned so much being with Kyle.”
Blackstock and “Albie” have been together for three years, from Blackstock’s first Training to her first Intermediate. “I love the horse. He’s awesome. He knows his job, he loves his job, he goes in there and does what he supposed to. He’s just incredible. I couldn’t ask for a better partnership.”
Isabel Finemore and Andrew Hoy’s 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding Rutherglen (Ramires x Ramona) finished in second place, just 0.5 points off the leaders, on their dressage score of 29.8.
When Finemore was living in England, she worked with Andrew Hoy who suggested she take the ride on Rutherglen. “Riding Rutherglen is such an experience because he’s done so much and to have Andrew Hoy allow me to ride him is just the most incredible thing ever,” Finemore said. “He’s so good at teaching me what I have to learn but he’s so good at allowing me to learn and not just doing everything. It’s so unbelievable, from Young Riders in July to this, I’m just shocked.”
Paige Drury and her own Shanagore Jenga (West Coast Cavalier x Mission Belle), an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, jumped a double-clear round that moved them up the leaderboard from fifth to third on their dressage score of 33.3.
“She absolutely loves to jump and so in warmup she was a little more forward than I want her in show jumping but she went in there and just listened so well every time I told her to come back. She’s just been awesome all weekend.”
The pair have only been together for about nine months, meaning they’re still developing their partnership. “She took me to my first Training and we did three Trainings, a Modified, and then moved up to Preliminary. She’s been amazing.”
Bates Preliminary Horse
Bobby Meyerhoff and his own and The Donavan Group’s 8-year-old Mecklenburg mare Lumumba (Levisonn x Lamara) made it a hat trick in the Bates Preliminary Horse division, putting in three solid phases to finish the week in first place on their dressage score of 26.9.
After putting the pedal to the metal yesterday, Meyerhoff was pleased with how she performed today. “She came out a little fresh, and I worked her quite a bit on the flat, getting her nice and loose and she started right off the bat jumping super,” he said. “It was interesting to me to see how she'd be and she came out the best she's ever come out. It was really cool."
With pure Arabian on the dam side of her pedigree, Lumumba has the advantage of blood on her side. “It's nice that she has that and she has the endurance and then at the same time she has the mind to contain it in the cool personality of being calm and being able to take the pressure,” he observed. “A lot of times it looks like she's being really nice and calm and presentable but I can feel the tension and the anxiety a little, but she hides it really well so that works to her advantage."
"My goal is to jump around a five-star here with her, so to able to jump in the stadium with her here and to go around the cross-country as many times between now and then, it's going to make her feel at home,” he said. “So the first time they come here isn't in the five-star and it's all that pressure. It's nice to be able to come here and do that in this type of competition in preparation for the big five-star."
Kyle Carter and Brandon Blackstock’s 8-year-old gelding Galliard’s Lancer held their second place position with a double clear show jumping round to finish their weekend on a 27.5.
"He made the time well, and he's been nothing but fantastic in show jumping for me,” Carter shared. “This horse has just been Mr. Reliability in there – you can be a bit wrong and he finds his way out of it. This horse is the best horse I've ever sat on in my life. Maybe not all my horses were the top horses in the world, but I've had enough good ones, and this one in all three phases is close to the top in all of them but he shows nothing but what you need for that level. When he finished cross-country, he blew out immediately; this morning I got on him and he was full of himself and fresh. Everything about him screams that he could be here and pull this off in a much bigger environment.”
Boyd Martin and Heidi White’s Fernhill Prezley (Aldatus Z x Killerisk Diamond), a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, moved up from ninth on a double-clear round to take home third place on a score of 29.7.
"Fernhill Prezley is a new horse for me,” Martin shared. “Heidi White produced the horse and has done an amazing job. He's a spectacular animal. I took over the ride a couple months ago and was very impressed with him. He did very well at Bromont and now here, and I think he's a horse for the future.
“He's a proper jumper . . . He has a bit of a long canter so I've been working hard to try to keep him together and balanced, and I was very pleased that he came out and jumped well today. Same in the cross-country, he's a big galloper and a bit hard to adjust, and same with the dressage, he has great big paces so it's harder with the collection work. But we're still getting to know each other and he'll be ready to move up to Intermediate soon."
Bates Preliminary Amateur
Arden Wildasin and her longtime partner James Wildasin’s 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding Watch Out (by Concorde) pulled out a double clear round to take home the win in the Bates Preliminary Amateur division. She was also second aboard Sarah Wildasin’s 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Southern Sun (Boherdeal Clover x Birdhill Lady) with another double clear round.
“Both horses went in there and did fantastic,” she said. “It was a partnership that we were building throughout the summer and we were able to perform it today. It was great going in knowing that I’m first and second – you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“The Southern Sun horse, he’s a little bit spooky and he did kind of spook at the coin jump, but he jumped it awesome and we’ve had the nemesis of the Liverpool – never had anything bad – but he jumped that the best in there which made me really happy.”
“The Watch Out horse, I’ve had him for almost 10 years and he only goes Preliminary. Preliminary is his height. He’s been one of my kids – I can’t sell him. He’s been with me since everything and each time I sit on him I continue to learn even though I’ve had him for so long. Yes, we’ve had that partnership, but it’s continuing to develop it.”
“It’s pretty surreal – it’s unbelievable. I’m pretty proud of those two for always showing up and doing their best and thankfully I was able to participate in doing my best too.”
Maggie Fearon and her own Brando (Banderas x Marlo), an 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding, round out the top three on a score of 35.5.
“He was really good on the flat for him, and was really just relaxed out there which I was happy about – it’s a big atmosphere out there,” Fearon said. “Cross-country he was absolutely perfect he in the past has been a little sticky and yesterday he was just all out and really good so I was very proud of that. Today he came in and jumped his socks off and was really good so I was very proud of him for his weekend.
“I got him when he was four from a hunter/jumper trainer and I’ve been bringing him up myself,” she continued. “He is really careful so we’ve taken it pretty slow with him. He’s eight now and he’s coming along really well so I’m excited.”
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.
The spring eventing season in the Midwest is always a toss-up due to unpredictable weather. Will it rain, will it be sunny, or will it be a snowstorm? No one knows! Mid-America Combined Training Association’s (MACTA) first cross-country schooling of the season was cancelled in March due to extremely muddy footing conditions and by the time our April dates came around, COVID-19 was in full force and we were unable to host our cross-country schooling and schooling show.
The FEI has published its Policy for Enhanced Competition Safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at assisting organizers and national federations with the safe resumption of international equestrian events in line with national and local restrictions.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has approved additional modifications to the qualification period for the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. The AEC is scheduled to take place August 25-30, 2020 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, and the USEA is doing everything possible to ensure a safe and successful Championship, while also ensuring fair opportunities for all.
This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).