Apr 16, 2024

Young Event Horse Graduates Flock in Droves to the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event

By Kaleigh Collett - USEA Staff
Quantum Leap and Doug Payne at the 2023 MARS Maryland 5 Star. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

The Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is just over a week away, and a slew of USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program Graduates are slated to make the trip to the Bluegrass State to compete in what is looking like an epic weekend of sport. Between the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L and the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S divisions, a total of 24 former YEH participants are set to go down centerline in the Rolex Arena next week. With the Paris Olympics quickly approaching, and the event serving as one of the final selection trials for team spots, the entry lists for both divisions are full of star-studded combinations setting their sights on big goals in 2024.

Quantum Leap, Ferrie’s Cello, Twilightslastgleam, Camarillo, Rock Phantom, and Tsetserleg TSF plan to represent the YEH program in the pinnacle CCI5*-L division this year.

Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy), a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding bred by Dr. Elizabeth Callahan, has quickly become a stalwart at the top level of the sport. “Quantum” will contest his seventh five-star next week with owner and rider Doug Payne in the tack. The pair is coming off a third-place finish in the highly competitive CCI4*-S division at the Stable View CCI4*-S (Aiken, South Carolina) earlier this month. The duo also logged yet another top-10 finish at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill last fall, but their most notable completion yet came from the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three Day-Event where they finished in third place and earned the USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Champion title.

Quantum competed in The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast 4-Year-Old Championship in 2015, finishing in third place with a score of 77.49, and then again as a 5-year-old in 2016 where he finished in seventh. Two years later, he earned the 2018 Holekamp/Turner YEH Le Lion d’Angers grant to represent the U.S. at the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding 7-Year-Old Championship at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France. More recently, the pair logged some of their best results in CCI4*-S competitions, receiving reserve champion honors at the Stable View Oktoberfest CCI4*-S in 2022, as well as third-place finishes in the Stable View Spring CCI4*-S and The Fork CCI4*-S (Mill Spring, North Carolina) in 2023.

Andrew McConnon and Ferrie's Cello. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

Ferrie’s Cello (Chello III VDL x Karelza), a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jeanne Shigo and bred by J. Sneller, will make his second attempt at the five-star level with rider Andrew McConnon after their debut at the MARS Maryland 5 Star last fall where they finished in 13th place. The gelding had a very successful campaign in the YEH Program during his 5-year-old year, winning a qualifier at the Carolina Horse Park (Raeford, North Carolina) on a score of 85.78 in Sept. 2017, then following it up with a reserve champion finish in The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast 5-Year-Old Championship at Fair Hill (Elkton Maryland) on a score of 86.41 the next month.

In 2023, the pair ticked off several milestone moments in their partnership, including representing the U.S. as members of the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team that brought home a silver medal in the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Poland CCIO4*-NC-S at the Strzegom Horse Trials last June and collecting multiple wins at the Intermediate level. "Eddy" and McConnon also kicked off the new year with a bang by winning their first two starts in the Pine Top Intermediate H.T. Intermediate A division and the Pine Top Advanced H.T. Advanced A division right after. A top-10 finish at the Stable View Spring H.T. in the Open Intermediate division capped off a successful run up to Kentucky.

Twilightslastgleam and Jennie Brannigan at the 2022 MARS Maryland 5 Star. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

Twilightslastgleam (National Anthem x Royal Child), a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned and bred by Nina and Tim Gardner, will contest the CCI5*-L with rider Jennie Brannigan, who has piloted him since 2014. “Comic,” as he’s known around the barn, finished as reserve champion at the 2014 USEA YEH East Coast 4-year-old Championship on a score of 82.83 with Brannigan, then the pair returned in 2015 to finish in seventh place on a score of 77.61 in the 5-year-old Championship. In 2017, Comic was also the frontrunner for the Holekamp/Turner YEH Le Lion d’Angers Grant.

This will be Comic and Brannigan's fourth start at the five-star level and second time contesting the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event. Some of the pair’s most notable finishes in recent years include top-20 placings at the 2022 Maryland 5 Star and the 2023 Kentucky Three-Day, as well as a win in the CCI4*-L at Bromont (Quebec, Canada) in 2022.

Doug Payne and Camarillo. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

Camarillo (Chicardo x Rehobeth), a 10-year-old German Sport Horse gelding bred by Dr. Callahan, will be making his five-star debut in Kentucky with owner and rider Doug Payne. Payne has been paired with “Carl” since the very beginning, expertly piloting him through his first event at Beginner Novice in 2018, then onto a sixth place finish on a score of 86.58 at The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast 5-Year-Old Championship at Fair Hill in 2019. As seen in a recent social media post that has quickly gained popularity, Carl wasn’t the easiest horse in Payne’s barn to get started, and bringing him up to the highest level of the sport has been a test of patience and perseverance.

With two years of experience under his belt at the Advanced and CCI4* level, Carl and Payne seem prepared to enter the next step in their competitive career together. They completed their final prep run before the Kentucky at the Stable View CCI4*-S on April 5-7, where they finished inside the top 20 just adding two rails and some time on cross-country to their dressage score. The pairs’ best result at the four-star level came last May at the Tryon International Three-Day Event (Mill Spring, North Carolina), where they secured a 10th-place finish.

Sara Kozumplik and Rock Phantom. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

Rock Phantom (Spirit House x Ballycroy Rose), a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Edith Rameika, is the second YEH Graduate who will be making their five-star debut at Kentucky. Originally piloted by Meaghan Marinovich-Burdick, Rock Phantom impressed judges at The Event at Rebecca Farm (Kalispell, Montana) YEH-5 qualifier in 2016, where he won the division on a score of 82.43. Since then, the horse was also campaigned through the Advanced and four-star level by Nilson Moreira da Silva before eventually joining Kozumplik’s stable in 2022.

With Kozumplik in the irons, Rock Phantom has competed from the Preliminary through the four-star level, with several notable finishes throughout the 2023 and 2024 seasons. In the spring of 2023, the pair received reserve champion honors at the Virginia Horse Center Eventing H.T. in the Advanced/Intermediate division, and they followed up that success in the fall with a win in the CCI4*-S at Chattahoochee Hills H.T. (now Bouckaert Farm).

Tsetserleg TSF and Boyd Martin at the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships. Shannon Brinkman photo

The final YEH graduate entered to compete in the CCI5*-L division next week is Tsetserleg TSF (Windfall x Thabana), a 17-year-old Trakehner gelding bred by Dr. Timothy Holekamp of New Spring Farm who plans to start his eighth five-star at Kentucky next week with Boyd Martin aboard for owner Christine Turner. “Thomas” is also cross-entered in the Badminton Horse Trials (England), which is set to run on May 8-12. For most eventing enthusiasts, Thomas needs no introduction. The horse has long been a beloved name at the pinnacle level of the sport, competing at three of the seven five-star venues thus far in his career, and representing the U.S. at two World Championships (Tryon in 2018 and Pratoni in 2022), the 2019 Pan American Games (Peru), and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Thomas has passed through several programs since the beginning of his career, starting with Cristin Stoop in 2012, whom he competed with in the YEH program. The duo finished in fourth place in the 5-year-old division at the Longwood Farm (Ocala, Florida) YEH qualifier in February of that year on a score of 79.43. Michael Pollard campaigned the gelding from the Training level up through Intermediate, then Martin took over the reins in 2016. Since then, Martin and Thomas have contested 34 international and 21 national starts together.

Not to be overlooked in this Olympic year, the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S has a whooping 17 program graduates entered to compete, making up more than a quarter of the field for this exciting division. Several big names have opted to join the four-star ranks this year, likely with team qualifications on the mind. We've outlined each of these YEH Graduates in the gallery below.

With such an impressive list of graduates set to compete, it's sure to be an exciting week for the USEA Young Event Horse Program. The USEA wishes all the competitors at next week’s Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event a safe and successful week!

About the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) 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-years-old, 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 ARMA, Bates Saddles, Capital Square, HorseWeek, Kerrits, Parker Equine Insurance, SmartPak, Standlee, and The Jockey Club 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.

About The Holekamp/Turner Grant

Founded in 2015 by Timothy and Cheryl Holekamp of New Spring Farm and Christine and T.J. Turner of Indian Creek Farm, the Holekamp/Turner Grant provides a USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championship competitor with the opportunity to represent the United States at the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships in the 7-year-old CCIYH3*-L Championship at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France. With the sole purpose of paving a clear pathway for U.S. team horses to progress in the sport of eventing, recipients who are North American-bred will be awarded the full cash grant of $17,500, while imported horses are awarded $8,000. Additionally, The Dutta Corp. offers a prize to the Holekamp/Turner Grant recipient, consisting of a round trip flight from the Eastern United States to Europe.

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