May 20, 2021

The Race to Le Lion: Eight Horses Vie For the 2021 Holekamp/Turner Grant

By Kate Lokey - USEA Staff
USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo

In 2015, Timothy and Cheryl Holekamp of New Spring Farm and Christine and T.J. Turner of Indian Creek Farm spearheaded a new grant to support the USEA Young Event Horse program and pipeline for U.S. team horses. The Holekamp/Turner Grant awards the highest scorer of The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse 5-year-old Championships, both East and West Coast Championships combined, with cash that enables them to travel to the FEI World Young Horse Championships at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France, for the 7-year-old three-star Championships. Additionally, this year, the Dutta Corporation will award a round-trip flight to the Holekamp/Turner Grant recipient to further aid in the commitment of garnering a YEH horse for the World Young Horse Championships in France.

Grant recipients who are North American bred receive $17,500 to travel to Le Lion d’Angers, but if the Holekamp/Turner Grant recipient is an imported horse, the recipient will be awarded $8,000. The intention of the grant is to further develop an upward pathway for U.S. team horses in the sport of eventing. The horse that has the highest score from the 2019 USEA Young Event Horse Championships that also qualifies to compete at La Mondial Du Lion will receive the Holekamp/Turner Grant this year. If the highest-scoring 5-year-old does not qualify or is unable to attend, the Grant is then awarded to the next highest scorer who is qualified, willing, and able to go.

Currently, there are seven horses with partial qualifications for La Mondial du Lion this year and one horse that is fully qualified from the 2019 YEH Championships pool. Camarillo (Chicardo x Rehobeth) is the only horse that has already obtained full qualifications for the 7-year-old Championship in France, earning his CCI2*-L Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) at the Tryon International Three-Day Event in November of last year and earning two CCI3*-S MERs this year at Carolina International CCI and H.T. and The Fork at TIEC. Camarillo is an American bred German Sport Horse, owned and ridden by Doug Payne and bred by Elizabeth Callihan.

Doug Payne and Camarillo. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo

Global Absolute (Do It x Ballerina II) is the next highest scoring horse from the 2019 YEH Championship rankings. He has been competing through the ranks with Colleen Rutledge, but Marissa Nielsen took over the ride this year, moving the horse out to the west coast. The pair has already put in two successful outings at the Preliminary level this season and have recently earned their two-star qualification, placing third at the Twin Rivers Spring International CCI2*-L in April. The Mecklenburg gelding is owned by the Black Diamond Partners, LLC in California.

Marissa Nielsen and Global Absolute. TheWestEquestrian.com Photo.

Next on the ranking list is Va Va Voom (Connelly x Na), who started her journey in the USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) Program after winning first place in the 3-year-old division at the Horse Park of New Jersey in 2017 and earned a top 10 placing at the FEH Championships that year. The Holsteiner mare is on her way to seeking full qualifications after obtaining her CCI2*-L MER and a top 10 placing at Tryon International last fall. She has completed a CCI3*-S this year with rider and owner Matthew Bryner, but the pair incurred jumping penalties, leaving them with the necessity to attempt another event at the level to earn their final MER.

Matthew Bryner and Va Va Voom. USEA/ Leslie Mintz Photo

D’Luxe Steel (Up To Date x Nicola D.) is a Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jeanne Shigo and ridden by Andrew McConnon. The gelding won the CCI2*-S at Carolina International this spring with McConnon in the irons, and the pair earned their CCI2*-L MER at Ocala International in April with a top 10 placing. With a steady track record at the Preliminary level and two good results at the two-star level, the pair are on their way to moving up to the next level to earn their final qualifications for France.


Andrew McConnon and D'Luxe Steel USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo

Juniperus (Zapatero VDL x Fleur) is the only horse with partial qualifications who competed at the 2019 USEA YEH West Coast Championships, as all the others who have partially or fully qualified came from the 2019 East Coast Championships. Amber Birtcil has been riding the Cellar Farm Corp’s Dutch Warmblood gelding for his entire eventing career, and the pair have rarely placed outside of the top 10 at any level thus far. They recently recorded their CCI2*-L MER at the Twin Rivers Spring International, finishing on their dressage score for a fourth-place finish.

Juniperus. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo

Cerafino D (Cayado 3 x Serafina II), Carl Segal, and Kathleen Cuca’s 7-year-old Holsteiner gelding is next on the ranking list with partial qualifications. Buck Davidson rode the gelding to a top 10 finish in the Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event CCI2*-L in October 2020, and the pair have been competing at Intermediate level this spring. They just need their CCI3*-S MER to complete their Holekamp/Turner Grant eligibility this year.

Andrea Davidson and Cerafino D. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo

Cole Horn’s Irish Sport Horse gelding, MBF Cooley Permission To Land (Cobra x Deeply Dippy K), has also earned his CCI2*-L MER but still needs his three-star MER. The rider/owner just recently earned the two-star qualification at the Ocala International last month. While they have not begun competing at the Intermediate level yet, there is still plenty of time to obtain the full qualifications before La Mondial du Lion.

Cole Horn and MBF Cooley Permission To Land. USEA/ Leslie Mintz Photo



Finally, DHI Showman (Elvis Ter Putte x Bubertha) is Buck Davidson’s other mount on this partially qualified list. The warmblood gelding is owned by Sami Crandell, a junior rider who competed the gelding at the 2019 YEH East Coast Championships. Davidson took over the ride in 2020 and has successfully competed the horse through the Intermediate level, recently winning their division at the Rocking Horse Spring H.T. in April. They earned their CCI2*-L MER last year and just need a CCI3*-S under their belts to be eligible for the grant.

DHI Showman and Sami Crandell. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo



Horses have until September 20, 2021, to earn their qualifications for La Mondial du Lion. Still, the USEA requires all owners to notify the USEA of their intention to compete for the Holekamp/Turner Grant by September 1. Four months still provides a large window of opportunity for these horses in contention, so let the race to Le Lion begin!

For questions or to inquire about the Holekamp/Turner Grant and The Dutta Corp. prize, contact [email protected].

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 Hay Company, Parker Equine Insurance, Etalon Diagnostics, and Saratoga Horseworks for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program. Additionally, the USEA would like to thank The Dutta Corp., Title Sponsor of the Young Event Horse Championships.

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Weekend Quick Links: Aug 12-14

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