Category Archives: USEF

Tessa Downey Captures USEF Pony Medal Finals Championship

Photo: Tessa Downey and Hallelujah.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 12, 2018 – The 2018 USEF Pony Finals drew to a close Sunday, but not before one more champion was crowned following the capstone event of the week, the 2018 Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Finals. Nearly 200 young riders aboard small, medium, and large ponies took their turns around the equitation track inside the Alltech Arena, and ultimately it was Tessa Downey aboard Hallelujah who outshone the large pack to earn the coveted winning title. Downey added to an already outstanding week with her new accolade, as the 13-year-old rider also earned the tricolor just one day ago in the Medium Regular Pony Hunters.

Riding 112th in the original order of go, Downey set the bar high for those that would follow her performance with a first-rate display of equitation riding, surpassing almost the entire herd of pony riders that had already jumped the 11-fence track. Designer Jasen Shelley’s winding first round course offered exhibitors a number of chances to display their skills, with a handful of inside turn options in addition to a trot fence and a required halt following the final obstacle to conclude the test before exiting. After watching more than 190 pony-and-rider partners tackle the course, judges Jeffrey Ayers and William Ellis awarded Downey the second slot on the callback behind Alexandra Lynn Willner, who had the reins on a medium pony, to emerge as one of the early frontrunners headed into phase two thanks to her precise and quiet riding.

Whittled down to an elite 20 riders, the second portion of the 2018 Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Finals brought back the remaining contenders, with riders aboard small ponies trying their hands around the abridged pattern first, followed by the larges and finally the mediums in order to allow the leading pair to ride last. Of the returning crew, four duos were smalls, 11 were mediums and five were larges. Slightly shortened to nine obstacles, the second sequence of fences asked riders to halt after fence two and then immediately canter to the subsequent vertical only a few strides away. Though Downey was ranked second in the standings, she returned as the ninth out of 20, due to the larger group of medium pony riders that would ride last. As noted by Judges Ayers and Ellis, Downey improved upon first round performance to put her at the top of the scorecard with 11 left to ride, and ultimately overthrew the initial leader and leapfrogged to the top to claim the championship honors.

Adding to her impressive performance is the fact that Downey first took up the reins on Hallelujah just four days ago, and this week was her first time competing on a large pony. Based in Texas, Downey is trained by Peter Pletcher and made her fourth appearance at the USEF Pony Finals this year. Though the young rider had never made it to the winner’s circle before, Sunday’s win gives her double the reasons to celebrate after her divisional win earlier in the week.

Though third-phase testing was a possibility should the judges panel opt for it, Ellis and Ayers chose not to ask for a final work-off, citing that the creme of the crop was easily distinguishable. Of the original top five, only two entrants retained their status, with three riders moving up the ranks with their second phase performances. Advancing from sixth place, Reilly Gogul nabbed the reserve championship behind Downey, followed by Alexa Lignelli and Maddie Tosh, up from seventh, in the third and fourth positions, respectively. Alexandra Miller finished in fifth place, making the move up from 12th after the first round.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Tessa Downey and Kat Fuqua Steal the Show at USEF Pony Finals

Photo: Tessa Downey and Anisette.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 11, 2018 – The final and largest division of the week concluded with the over fences phase Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park, closing out 2018 USEF Pony Finals competition in the hunter ring. Tessa Downey and Anisette were awarded the championship in the Medium Regular Pony Hunters ahead of a massive field of 163 other contenders, moving up from third position to earn the coveted tricolor. Boasting the highest cumulative score of the six divisions, Kat Fuqua and Brighton reigned supreme to capture the Grand Regular Pony Hunter championship title, while Downey and Anisette rode to the Grand Reserve Regular Pony Hunter honors, in addition to the Best Turned Out Award.

Beginning bright and early in the Walnut Ring, the expansive collection of entries in the Medium Regular Pony Hunters were in the spotlight for the majority of the day, but ultimately it all came do the final few pairs to tackle the course. With one championship already under her belt for the week, Maddie Tosh aimed to add another to her list with the reins aboard Peacock Ridge, LLC’s Smallwood Mystic, navigating the pony to a top score of 264 over fences and 1,019.52 overall, bumping them from 20th position to the top of the leaderboard. Tosh would retain her position until Downey and her own Anisette entered the ring as the third-to-last duo to take their turn over the fences. The pony-and-rider partners executed a textbook performance to the tune of 87, 88 and 89 for a total score of 264 over fences and 1,045.14 from the judges, overthrowing the sitting leaders. The final two pairs to ride, Caroline Signorino aboard Newhaven’s Magnum and Ava Berman with Toblerone, tried their best to match the efforts of their peers, but were unable to surpass the lofty scores earned by Downey and Anisette.

Proving that everything is bigger in Texas, Houston-based Downey fittingly nabbed the win ahead of the largest division of the week and was accompanied by a horde of supporters including family, friends, and the team at PJP Farm. Trained by Peter Pletcher, the 13-year-old rider is attending her fourth USEF Pony Finals, but the 2018 event marks her first time in the winner’s circle. The Downey family had reason to celebrate last year as the owners of News Flash, the pony that won this same division and the Grand Regular Pony Hunter title in 2017 with Augusta Iwasaki in the saddle, but this year the division win is even sweeter as Downey both owns and rode Anisette.

Tosh and Smallwood Mystic earned the reserve spot in the Medium Regular Pony Hunters, followed by Skye Kania and Sammy Kania’s Falling Moon Front Page in third position, up from their 12th place spot after the first two phases of competition. Baylee McKeever and Heritage Farm, Inc.’s Dream Come Blue nabbed the fourth position, and owner-rider Calder Trotz navigated Not So Secret to fifth overall.

Exemplifying the highest level of talent and ability across the three size-based Regular Pony Hunter divisions, Fuqua and Brighton added another accolade to their names as the winners of the Grand Regular Pony Hunter title. The first divisional champions of the week, Fuqua and her own Brighton modeled, hacked, and jumped their way to a two-day total score of 1,063.65 in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, impressively putting them in a league all their own more than 30 points ahead of the next-closest competitor in their respective division. Downey and Anisette had double the reasons to celebrate Saturday as the Grand Reserve Regular Pony Hunter winners.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Samantha Takacs and Grace Debney Earn Green Hunter Tricolors at USEF Pony Finals

Photo: Samantha Takacs and Galianna.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 10, 2018 – The penultimate day of hunter competition concluded Friday at the Kentucky Horse Park with two new 2018 USEF Pony Finals champions hoisting their titles. In the Medium Green Pony Hunters, Samantha Takacs and Galianna extended their day one lead to secure the overall championship and the Grand Green Pony Hunter rosette, while Grace Debney and Lafayette Park led the victory gallop and took home the final green pony division championship in the Large Green Pony Hunters in addition to the Grand Reserve Green Pony Hunter title.

Beginning the day as the early leaders and the last to ride over fences out of 72 entries, Takacs and Kim Wolf’s Galianna needed 236 points to surpass Cecelia Jackson and Northwind Marwyn, the current leading pair, as they entered the ring for their over fences ride. A steady stream of solid performances throughout the class kept the top of the leaderboard close, but luckily Takacs and the dappled dark bay pony had finished the first two phases of competition with a 16-point lead, easing some of the pressure. Pulling in scores of 84, 85 and 87 from the judges’ panel for a total 256 points after a first-rate trip, the 13-year-old rider and Galianna earned the over fences blue ribbon and boosted their cumulative two-day score to 1,040.02, claiming the division title and Grand Green Hunter Pony championship as the highest scoring of the three size-based Green divisions.

Takacs and Galianna, affectionately known as “Adele” or “Deli Sandwich,” are newfound partners, with the young rider only just getting the reins on the mare one short week ago. When California-based Gabrielle Sokolow was not able to attend the 2018 USEF Pony Finals with trainer Corinne Bevins, New Jersey-based Takacs stepped in to take over the ride. Though their time together was scant, the combined talent of the rider and pony proved to be the perfect match, earning top marks in all three phases.

Jackson and Susan McDade’s Northwind Marwyn finished in the reserve position with 1,000.50 points, the only other pair to break the 1,000-point threshold, closely followed by owner-rider Lola Head and Goldhills As You Like It in third position overall. Kierstin Antoniadis and Elizabeth Garcia’s Blank Check finished fourth in the standings, while Alexa Lignelli and The Lignelli Family’s EMC Entourage rounded out the top five placings.

Concluding the afternoon was the Large Green Pony Hunters, comprised of a pack of 81 pony-and-rider combinations vying for the top spot. Riding fifth-to-last in the order of go, 14-year-old Debney and Temple Equestrian, LLC’s Lafayette Park executed a near flawless trip over the 10-fence track to usurp the sitting class leaders, Kierstin Antoniadis and Winter Tietjen’s Pokerface, who leapfrogged from 20th position to the top of the field with a 259-point over fences score. The remaining four contenders each navigated satisfactory rounds, but were unsuccessful at matching the finesse shown by Debney and “Jake,” who ultimately finished in the top spot overall with 1,018.85 points and second in the over fences portion of competition. With their composite score, Debney and Lafayette Park secured the Grand Reserve Green Pony Hunter tricolor.

Debney is hot off a standout performance at the Devon Horse Show with the famous pony, Storyteller, who she piloted to the Large Pony Hunter Championship, the Grand Pony Hunter title, and the Best Child Rider on a Pony title in May. With her win Friday, Debney can add another accolade to her mounting trophy case.

The only other duo to hit 1,000 points, Antoniadis and Pokerface finished in the reserve position with 1,005.03 points, trailed by Isabella Griffin and her own Heaven’s Gift with the bronze. Owner-rider Jessica West and Stoneledge Just My Style captured fourth place, while Takacs added another top placing to her repertoire with fifth position aboard Rendezvous Farm’s Small Romance.

In the Medium Regular Pony Hunters, the last hunter division of the week, Toblerone carried Ava Berman to the forefront of the standings after two strong showings in the model and the hack. Narrowly missing first place by less than half of a point in the model, Berman and Sofia Baiker’s Toblerone secured the divisional lead with a ninth place finish under saddle, propelling them to the top of the overall scorecard with total marks of 519.55.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Maddie Tosh Jumps to Small Regular Pony Hunter Championship at USEF Pony Finals

Photo: Maddie Tosh and Bit of Love.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 9, 2018 – The 2018 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, returned to the Kentucky Horse Park for the third day of competition , with Maddie Tosh and Bit Of Love proving to be the day’s big winners as the over fences and overall champions in the Small Regular Pony Hunters. The winning 12-year-old and Bit Of Love bested a lofty field of 101 entries to assert themselves as the 2018 titleholders. The remaining larger green pony divisions all had their time to shine Thursday, as well, with Samantha Takacs aboard Galianna and Josephine Rose with the ride on Cacique claiming the early leads in their respective divisions, the Medium Green and Large Green Pony Hunters.

Returning in sixth position for the Small Regular Pony Hunters, Tosh was not faced with the pressure of riding as the last to go with Dr. Betsee Parker’s seasoned pony, Bit Of Love, but was challenged to lay down a near-perfect showing in order to eclipse Finley Morgan and the five pairs sitting ahead of her after the model and hack phases. Tackling the expansive track with finesse, the young rider and Bit Of Love pulled in scores of 88, 90 and 92 for a composite score of 270 over fences, overtaking the early leaders Morgan and her own Howie Do It, who impressively jumped from 50th position to the initial lead after a textbook trip. Forced to watch five of her peers chase her down, Tosh was ultimately rewarded as each pair failed to accrue enough points to oust her from her spot atop the leaderboard. Though Helen Ryan and Smitten gave them a run for the title with individual scores of 87, 87.5 and 88, their effort would have to settle for second position in both the over fences and overall.

In addition to their class and division tricolors, Tosh and Bit Of Love also earned the High-Scoring Welsh Award for Small Regular Ponies as the top finisher for the breed. Tosh is trained by her father, acclaimed rider and trainer Hunt Tosh, out of Alpharetta, Georgia, and has been riding “Chester” for two years. This is her second appearance at Pony Finals, but the first win for Tosh, who also competes on the horses in the equitation and Children’s Hunter.

Combined with Wednesday’s score from the model and under saddle portions of divisional competition, Tosh and Bit Of Love concluded the Small Regular Pony Hunters with total marks of 1,050.54, a handful of points ahead of the reserve champions, Ryan and Town Line Equestrian, LLC’s Smitten. Not far behind, the day one leaders Carolyn Colter and So Enchanted, owned by Jessica Zandri, claimed third position, trailed by Lauren Gee and Ava Berman’s Farmore Charismatic in fourth place. Morgan and Howie Do It made the largest jump of the afternoon to round out the top five finishers.

Boasting two strong showings in the Medium Green Pony Hunters a few hours prior, four-time Pony Finals veteran Takacs modeled and rode Kim Wolf’s Galianna to the highest total marks of the day to emerge as the early pair to beat. The pony-and-rider combination commenced their morning with a third place finish out of 72 exhibitors in the model, and then secured the divisional lead with an eye-catching performance in the hack, riding to the blue ribbon more than 10 points ahead of the next-closest finisher.

Rose and Joey Rose, LLC’s Cacique concluded the initial phases of Large Green Pony Hunter competition as the frontrunners with a narrow 4-point lead headed into the over fences class. Now at her fifth Pony Finals, Rose showed off Cacique’s conformation expertly, warranting a fourth place ribbon and score of 255.59 from the judges’ panel. The pair soon improved upon their showing in the hack, displaying the walk, trot and canter to the reserve spot and a lofty score of 270.16, less than one point behind the class winner, Caroline Passarelli in the irons aboard So Dapper, owned by Jessica Zandri.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Kat Fuqua and Skylar Wireman Crowned First Two 2018 USEF Pony Finals Champions

Photo: Kat Fuqua and Brighton.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 8, 2018 – Bowties and braids returned to the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park for the second day of the 2018 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, on Wednesday, with the day one leaders aiming to retain their top positions in the Large Regular and Small Green Pony Hunter divisions. In the end, Kat Fuqua and Brighton led from start to finish and were successful at fending off the large field of competition to emerge victorious in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, while Skylar Wireman, with the reins on Neon Moon, leapfrogged 20 places to the top of the leaderboard in the Small Green Pony Hunter division.

As the last to ride of more than 140 entries in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, 11-year-old Fuqua and her own Brighton overcame the pressure to lay down the highest scoring single trip of the day, easily sweeping all three phases of the division and claiming the championship tricolors. Displaying their prowess by maintaining an even rhythm around the lofty track, the winning duo raked in scores of 85.5, 87.5 and 88 from the judges’ panel to brandish top marks of 261 in the over fences class. Combined with Tuesday’s score, Fuqua and Brighton’s final tally was 1063.65, more than 30 points ahead of the reserve champion and a strong score to keep them in contention for the Grand Regular Pony Hunter title to be crowned Saturday following the conclusion of all the divisions.

The 2018 event is Fuqua’s fifth Pony Finals appearance, but her first championship win, fittingly on her mother’s birthday. Both of Fuqua’s parents are grand prix dressage riders, but their daughter has shown an aptitude for jumping and shows no signs of slowing down, recently earning a top placing at the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships – East. The young rider from Atlanta, Georgia will return later in the week to contest more pony divisions against her peers.

One of only five pony-and-rider combinations to break the 1,000-point benchmark, Chandler Wilks navigated Ashley Vail Aycox’s Valentino to the reserve championship with a cumulative score of 1029.86, followed by Propp and Aquitaine Equine’s News Day, who jumped from ninth at the beginning of the day to nab the final podium spot with marks of 1027.76. Clair Campbell and Eastside, owned by Maher Family, LLC, claimed fourth place, while Emma Rupinski and Lily Rupinski’s Stonewall Top Call pulled off one of the largest improvements of the day to finish in fifth position after jumping from the 30th spot.

Capping off the afternoon, the Small Green Pony Hunters took the spotlight and, with a smaller field of 40 contenders, movement among the top of the ranks was not out of the question. Riding 19th in the order of go as the 21st-ranked pair after day one, 13-year-old Wireman and Balmoral’s Neon Moon were not pegged as one of the frontrunners, but quickly attracted attention with their talented trip that earned them scores of 86, 87 and 90 from the watchful eyes of the judges. Forced to wait with nearly half of the class still to ride, Wireman looked on as her fellow riders took their shot at usurping her place atop the scorecard, but none were able to overtake her over fences marks of 263 or her cumulative 998.50 division points.

Alexa Lignelli and Agatha Lignelli’s Just Right rode to the second place ribbon both over fences and overall with 254 and 994.60 points, respectively, while Alexandra Miller aboard Pineapple, owned by Emily Elek-Burtard, likewise clinched third position over fences and in the final division rankings. Owner-rider Vanessa Mazzoli and Partly Cloudy earned the fourth spot, and Propp and Aquitaine Equine’s With Love, the day one leaders, rounded out the top five finishers.

Earlier in the day, Carolyn Colter and Jessica Zandri’s So Enchanted maneuvered their way to the early lead in the Small Regular Pony Hunters thanks to ribbon-worthy performances in both the model and under saddle phases.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Kat Fuqua and Clara Propp Ride to Early Lead at 2018 USEF Pony Finals

Photo: Kat Fuqua and Brighton.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 7, 2018 – Tuesday morning marked the highly-anticipated commencement of the 2018 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, at the Kentucky Horse Park, with nearly 200 ponies and their junior riders taking center stage in the first two divisions of the week. The most celebrated event of its kind for pony riders in the United States, the USEF Pony Finals is a three-phase competition judging the pony’s conformation, way of moving and jumping ability. After the first two rounds of competition for the Large Regular Pony Hunters, Kat Fuqua and Brighton emerged as the early leaders by impressively earning blue ribbons in both the model and hack ahead of 146 fellow contenders. Besting the field in the Small Green Pony Hunters, Clara Propp and With Love will ride last over fences as the initial frontrunners in their division.

Though Fuqua and her own Brighton have only been paired together for one short month, their short relationship did not detract from their performance in the Walnut Ring as the pair consistently impressed the judges’ panel in the Large Regular Pony Hunters. Under the tutelage of trainer Michael Newman of Aubrey Hill Equestrian in Pace, Florida, the 11-year-old rider and chestnut pony collected scores of 260.23 in the model and 281.42 in the hack to solidify their place atop the leaderboard headed into the final portion of competition. No stranger to the winner’s circle, Brighton carried Claire Campbell to a similar lead in the division after day one of the 2017 USEF Pony Finals with a cumulative score of 512.62, and this year the pony improved on his performance to stand an even better chance of sweeping the division with total marks of 541.65 headed into day two.

Chasing Fuqua and Brighton’s commanding early lead, Chandler Wilks and Ashley Vail Aycox’s Valentino currently sit in the reserve spot with 534.56 points, while Caroline Passarelli piloted another Fuqua-owned mount, Chic in Time, to third position overall. Sitting in fourth is Brynn Kuhnell and D’Artagnan, owned by Simply Ponies, LLC, trailed by Ava Aguilar and Sienna Gustafson’s Imagine That rounding out the top five slots.

In the Small Green Pony Hunters, Clara Propp began her day on a high note, winning the model with Aquitaine Equine’s With Love to the tune of 265.98 points from the judges. In the flat portion of the division, fellow bow-clad rider Omi Enkin and her own Happiness nabbed the first prize with a score of 258.00, but Propp and With Love’s third place marks of 254.50 were enough to propel the 11-year-old from Canada and her grey pony to the top of the overall scorecard. Boasting a composite score of 520.48, Propp and With Love currently sit 10 points ahead of the next-closest competitors, Enkin and Happiness with 510.20 points, headed into the over fences final phase.

Currently sitting in third place, Helen Ryan and Town Line Equestrian, LLC’s Charming will attempt to usurp the leaders, with owner-rider Jordan Gibbs and Show Off hot on their tails less than one point behind. Vanessa Mazzoli and her own Partly Cloudy clinched fifth place to close out the top contenders after day one.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Parra Again Qualifies String of Rising Superstars for USEF Developing & Young Horse Championships

Cesar Parra and Don Cesar, his Developing Prix St Georges contender. (Photo courtesy of digishots.nl)

Whitehouse Station, NJ (June 11, 2018) – Consistency is everything in dressage and since 2012, internationally celebrated rider and trainer Dr. Cesar Parra has been qualifying some of the brightest rising stars in the sport for the USEF Developing and Young Horse National Championships. This season will be no exception.

Dr. Parra and his team are in the process of qualifying five exceptional horses to represent Piaffe Performance and GK Elite Sport in the national championships this August 21-26 during the US Dressage Festival of Champions at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL. “They’re quality horses. I’m in love with all of them,” he says, referring to the extraordinary depth and breadth of talent each horse represents: Throughout the 2018 show year, all five horses – Fashion Designer OLD, GK Don Cesar, GK Sir Beckmann, Supremont, and Furstin P — have ranked nationally at or near the top of their division.

Defending their 2017 title will be Parra and Fashion Designer OLD, currently third on the USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix rankings on a 70.032% average. “He won last year and is destined to be an amazing Grand Prix horse,” he says. “I love bringing young horses like him through the stages and giving them the best chance to bring the best out of them. He’s really a character. In his stall he’s a puppy dog but under saddle, his strength and dominance show through.”

Coming into the USEF Developing Horse Prix St Georges National Championship with a 70.993% are Parra and GK Don Cesar, whom he describes as a “nice, happy horse, who is always willing to please.” Parra has shaped that same willing attitude into the current leader (8.20) on the USEF Young Horse Dressage Six-Year-Old Division leaderboard, GK Sir Beckmann: “Like all the horses qualified this year, he came to us as a three-year-old and is such an effortless performer, with an undeniable talent.”

As confident as her trainer in her own caliber is Parra’s one mare among the qualifiers, Fürstin P, who is in the top three with a 8.140 in the USEF Young Horse Dressage Five-year-old division, ridden by Roberto Brasil and owned by Dr. Heather Hornor. He adds with a laugh, “She’s a prima donna. She knows she’s good and that she’s pretty, and she’s right!” But she’s also not alone. Parra has a second rising star joining her in that division, Supremont, ridden by Merita Hagren and owned in partnership with Dr. Heather Hornor, coming in with a 7.530.

“I’m very proud of all the horses, and excited and grateful to everyone who has been so supportive and nice to us throughout the season. We have consistently qualified to go to the national championships for several years now,” says the Parra, estimating that over the last decade he has trained and ridden more than a dozen horses down USEF National Championship center lines.

Referring to his own deep well of experience competing internationally that he will bring to Lamplight Equestrian Center, the Olympian, Pan American Games Team Gold medalist, Nations Cup Silver medalist, and two-time FEI World Equestrian Games™ and FEI World Cup™ Finals veteran says, “As a rider, the more experience you have of course gives you greater possibilities. Going to the US Nationals with European experience helps (Dr. Parra and GK Don Cesar were the only horse-and-rider pair to represent the United States in the 2017 Longines FEI World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses last summer), as there will be a lot of great riders and horses at our National Championships, so you can’t take anything for granted.

“It would be very rewarding to do well at the national championships and go on to represent the United States in Europe with these horses in the future.”

Consistency, in both Dr. Parra and in the horses he trains, suggests he’ll be keeping his passport handy.

Follow Dr. Parra and all the rising dressage stars he has in training and learn more about his lessons and services at www.piaffe-performance.com and on Facebook @PiaffePerformance.

Contact: Dr. Cesar Parra
GK Elite Sport
(410) 977-8352
www.gk-horses.com

Marilyn Little Wins Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous (Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian)

Lexington, Ky. – Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous added another milestone accolade to their resume on Sunday. As the top American combination at the Land Rover® Kentucky Three-Day Event (LRK3DE), they earned the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. A six-time competitor of the event, Little reached the LRK3DE podium for the first time with a score of 32.8. In a shocking twist, Great Britain’s Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class placed first with a score of 28.7 to strip Germany’s Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST’s chance of earning their fourth straight title.

“It is a really incredible feeling [to win the National Championship] and be next to Oliver Townend and Michael Jung. For ‘Kitty’ to have this performance this weekend, she just astounds me every day. I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to ride her, and it makes it even more special that [owners] Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders were here,” said a thankful Little. “The people who brought this horse to this level, the hours, the tears, the time – it’s unimaginable to the outside world [of eventing], but we all feel it intensely in the prize giving ceremony, and it’s a very emotional experience. The partnership with [RF Scandalous] is strong, and I’m grateful for everything I have had with her, and I’m looking forward to the future with her.”

As the heavy favorite, Jung took the early lead in the LRK3DE following the first day of dressage on Thursday with a stellar score of 27.1. However, in an interesting turn of events, Little (Frederick, Md.) and RF Scandalous, a 13-year-old Oldenburg mare, put in a personal best dressage performance of 24.8 to steal the lead from Jung.

“She was a little bit excited with the Friday afternoon atmosphere, which we are familiar with at Kentucky. I was excited to go on Friday afternoon and knew she could handle it well. She was very businesslike, and it was a great ride. She was looking to please and she did her job,” said Little, who has focused heavily on improving Kitty’s dressage scores over the past year.

Not only did Little compete in the LRK3DE, she pulled double-duty and jumped in Friday’s inaugural Kentucky Invitational $35,000 Welcome Speed Cup CSI3* before conquering Saturday’s cross-country course. Little rode Derek di Grazia’s track cautiously, which resulted in eight time penalties, finishing 11 seconds over the time. As a result, they dropped to sixth place with a score of 32.8.

“I was thrilled with her; she jumped all the combinations well and gained confidence with every jump. She held her line great and tried hard. She has a long, lopey stride and was looking to go,” said Little.

Sitting in fourth place, Lynn Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and The Donner Syndicate LLC’s Donner were the top-placed American combination following cross-country heading into Sunday’s show jumping finale with a score of 31.3. Only four jumping faults separated the top five, and Little and RF Scandalous produced a clean round, which put the pressure on Symansky to jump clean. Unfortunately, they dropped one rail, which moved Little to third place following a clean round by Townend and Cooley Master Class and two rails by Australia’s Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18.

Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) and Z, owned by Thomas Tierney, Simon Roosevelt, Suzanne Lacy, Ann Jones, and Caroline Moran, were the second highest-placed American combination and placed sixth overall with a score of 33.7 to earn the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Reserve National Championship. The Rio Olympic individual bronze medalist and Z finished on their dressage score, an impressive feat for the nine-year-old Zangersheide gelding’s first CCI4*.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

Jung Back on Top after Cross-Country

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian.

Symansky and Donner Ride to the Lead of Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship

Lexington, Ky. – The conditions could not have been more perfect for a day of brilliant cross-country action, and the riders and horses did not disappoint. Defending champion Michael Jung of Germany and fisherRocana FST showed the depth of their partnership to take over the top spot after adding only 0.4 penalties to his dressage score to lead with 27.5.

Breathing down his neck is Australia’s Chris Burton and Nobilis 18 (27.9) and Oliver Townend of Great Britain on Cooley Master Class (28.7). Townend also tied for fourth aboard MHS King Joules (31.3) with Lynn Symansky and Donner (31.3). Less than a rail separates all of them as they head into the show jumping finale.

Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and Donner, the 15-year-old Thoroughbred owned by The Donner Syndicate, LLC, are the highest-placed American combination and currently lead the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. Overnight leader Marilyn Little (Frederick, Md.) and RF Scandalous, Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders’s 13-year-old Oldenburg mare, added 8 time penalties to drop to sixth overall (32.8), and second in the national championship.

Donner is competing in his ninth CCI4* and their experience showed as he and Symansky cruised around easily. “I don’t have any complaints,” she said with a smile. “He takes a bit to get into the groove, especially with the crowd… He went around like clockwork. It’s a tribute to knowing the horse so well and having a great partnership with him. He tried his heart out, and I’m pleased with how he came home.”

Overall, 11 pairs came home double-clear around Derek di Grazia’s course. Thirty-six horses finished the course, six with jumping faults. Three were eliminated and four retired on course.

Course designer di Grazia, who will design courses for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, was pleased with how his course rode, even though more made the time than he was expecting. “I’m generally very happy about how the course rode,” he said. “I think the faults were spread out, quite a number clean without jumping faults and I think all the combinations rode well and, at the same time, [the riders] didn’t have to do them all the same way. People did things differently and it still worked out for them. And, we didn’t have any horse falls or rider injuries, and, to me, that’s all a positive.

“I think that the ground ended up being quite fast today,” di Grazia continued. “[In part because] the conditions couldn’t be better. A little rain would have been different, but you never know. We also had a very good field of riders today. It may not have been a huge field, but the ones we had were good.”

For more information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, visit kentuckythreedayevent.com.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

Little Comes Up Big in Dressage at Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous (Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian)

Lexington, Ky. – It was no surprise that after the first day of dressage, reigning champions of the Kentucky Three-Day Event, Michael Jung of Germany and fischerRocana FST, were sitting comfortably in first place. However, the second day of dressage did hold some surprises, as American combination Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous took control by turning in a personal best to grab the lead with a 24.8, more than 2 points ahead of Jung’s 27.1. Australia’s Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18 are keeping pace in third with a 27.9.

In addition to her top placement on the international leaderboard, Little (Frederick, Md.) is also currently leading the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. Her stunning score is believed to be the lowest in the history of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.

“She gave me a great ride today,” said Little. “She was a little bit excited with the Friday afternoon atmosphere, which we are familiar with at Kentucky. I was excited to go on Friday afternoon and knew she could handle it well. She was very businesslike, and it was a great ride. She was looking to please and she did her job.”

Little calls the 13-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Jacqueline Mars, and Phoebe and Michael Manders, “Kitty.” Kitty served as Little’s mount for the Pan American Games in 2015, where the pair brought home two gold medals.

“She’s been with me for a while, but she’s changed so much,” Little said. “I knew she was capable of putting in a great test today. She’s been steadily improving. We haven’t competed much because we’ve been focusing on training, but I thought if she had a personal best she could be on top today.”

Kim Severson (Charlottesville, Va.) and Cooley Cross Border, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by The Cross Syndicate, sits in second in the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship on a score of 28.3. Boyd Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) and Tsetserleg, the 11-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner, and Lauren Kieffer (The Plains, Va.) and Vermiculus, Jacqueline Mars’s 11-year-old Anglo-Arabian gelding, are tied for third on a score of 31.2.

For more information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, visit kentuckythreedayevent.com.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications