Nov 03, 2023

Young Riders Tackle Cross-Country at the USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships Presented By USEA

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Molly Duda and Disco Traveler lead the CCI3*-L Young Rider standings and are in third place overall in the CCI3*-L at Galway Downs. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photos

Temecula, Calif.—Nov. 3—The U.S. Equestrian Federation Eventing Young Rider Championships presented by USEA continued at Galway Downs today with a full day of cross-country.

While there are only three individuals competing in the CCI3*-L championship, it’s a very talented group. Molly Duda and her own 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Donatelli x Cadence) maintained their lead after a double-clear cross-country round ahead of Elsa Warble and FE Unlimited and Kayla Dumler and Farmir.

“It was great. ‘Disco’ was feeling super fit, definitely at his best,” said Duda, who credited work with Tamie Smith in recent weeks, as well as her regular trainer Mickayla Howard, for their success. “We’ve been working on improving his gallop a lot so that we’re making the time by lengthening his step so he’s using his body well, and I think we’ve been really succeeding in that. He cooled out pretty fast, so I think the fitness is there. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.”

Duda is heading to college at UCLA where she’ll be studying microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics and is planning to start working with Robyn Fisher.

While she’s riding as an individual, Duda said she appreciated several of the CCI1*-L young riders helping her cool out at the vet box. She and Warble returned the favor and helped the one-star young riders after their rounds. “Everyone jumped clean. It was a great day for Area VI,” she said.

Sarah Ross and Fernhill Heart Throb.

Sarah Ross and her own 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Fernhill Heart Throb (Biscayo x Postara) maintained their position at the top of the CCI2*-L individual young rider leaderboard and helped their team from Area VI (Gabriella Ringer and Get Wild, Lauren Crabtree and Excellence, and Julia Beauchamp Crandon and MGH Capa Vilou) stay in gold-medal position after a double-clear cross-country round. Ross is also leading the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship.

“I walked the course a few times, and I felt pretty happy and confident with it,” said Ross. “He warmed up wonderfully, and he just gave it his all. He was really unbelievable. I was definitely going for broke a bit, so it was kind of a cool feeling getting to go out there and give it everything we had and seeing it pay off. I’m usually one to set up a bit more, but I was kind of in it, so I went for it. He showed he wanted to go for it just as much as I did.”

Scarlett Peinado and Shadow Inspector.

In her first CCI1*-L, Scarlett Peinado rode her own 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Shadow Inspector (Tinarana’s Inspector x Caragh Roller) into second place overall and is the leading one-star young rider.

Peinado, who's riding as an individual for Area V, came from Pennsylvania, where she’s training with Dom Schramm, to compete. Peinado had never galloped on a dirt track like Galway’s and found the experience fun.

“My ride was great. Everything went to plan,” she said. “I found a little shortcut out of the water. I’m super excited. I’m glad I did that because I don’t think I would have made the time without doing that. My goal wasn’t to whip around; I was strategic with my routes. I took the fastest routes I could, not necessarily galloping as fast as I could go. I felt like all the pieces came together, and everything I’ve been working for for the past few months have really come together.”

She’s been paired with Shadow Inspector since earlier this year. “He’s very brave. He’s very laidback, so it’s really hard for me to get him galloping, but today he definitely wanted to go, and it was a really nice feeling,” she said. “He’s so honest, and he’s willing to jump anything anywhere. I feel really safe and confident on him.”

Harper Padgett and Cooley Starship.

Harper Padgett is currently in third place in the CCI1*-L and in second in the young rider standings for that division on Leonie Padgett’s 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Cooley Starship (Cobra x Simona). They’re also on the leading Area VII one-star team, which includes Lizzie Hoff (HSH Best Kept Secret), Olivia Keye (Chromatic Flyer), and Caterina Ritson (This Lad Is Gold).

“I thought he was really good,” she said. “I’ve been trying to work out a lot of kinks with this horse, but cross-country is definitely his strong suit. He was very bold and very good. I think the course was really nice and open and flowing and that helped a lot of horses make time and get a nice rhythm going. I liked the long gallop stretch at the end. That helped me get up on the time.”

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