Eleanor Rudnicki on Quinten F.
Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 27, 2019 – The final day of the 2019 National Horse Show’s Opening Weekend, which showcased equitation classes for all ages, offered two final championship opportunities for exhibitors. Up against a lofty field of 161 athletes in the start list, Eleanor Rudnicki proved her prowess in the equitation ring riding Quinten F throughout multiple rounds of competition to emerge victorious as the 2019 winner of the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship, the class which featured the most entries all weekend. In the Boggs Hill National Horse Show KHJA Equitation Championship, Emily White topped the scorecard aboard Scandeek thanks to two strong showings over fences and on the flat.
Designed by Bobby Murphy, the 12-effort track presented exhibitors with a number of opportunities to highlight their abilities in front of the judges’ panel, which was comprised of Emil Spadone and Mary Lisa Leffler. Following the first round of riding, 161 hopeful entries were whittled down to only 24 of the top performers, each of whom were invited back to the Alltech Arena to battle it out with their peers at least twice more, once under saddle and another time over fences, plus additional testing if required. Turning in the strongest showings during the first two rounds, Rudnicki, Ainsley Wade, Lilly Goldstein, Jordan Gibbs, and Vanessa McCaughley led the standings headed into the final jumping phase.
Once again, Murphy’s track provided a handful of route options in order for exhibitors to distinguish themselves from their peers, and many competitors took advantage of the opportunities with a series of inside turns. Sitting as the frontrunner after the first over fences and under saddle portions of the contest, Rudnicki had the advantage of jumping Murphy’s second pattern last since the qualified individuals returned in reverse order of the standings.
At the conclusion of the second jumping portion, only two riders, 14-year-old Rudnicki and 16-year-old Wade, were asked back for a final work-off in order for the judges to determine who would receive the 2019 class honors. Coincidentally, Rudnicki and Wade rode back-to-back in the initial order of go, with Rudnicki riding 45th in the start list aboard Jessie Rechs’ Quinten F and Wade as the 46th of the day with the reins on her own Cumano Boy Z. Returning for one final test, the two ladies switched horses for a competitive flat work-off. After a nail-biting ride-off, the results were in: Rudnicki had captured the championship after leading from start to finish in the 2019 Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship. Wade was awarded the reserve honors, and Lola Head moved up from eighth place to capture the final podium spot.
Impressively, Sunday’s victory came during Rudnicki’s first year competing in the equitation ranks as well as her first indoors season. Adding another level of prestige to her win is the fact that she only rode Quinten F for the first time one week ago, but the young rider quickly learned to adapt to the horse and rode as if on a familiar mount. Rudnicki is coming off an already successful week at the National Horse Show, having earned the championship tricolor in the Cindi Perez and Anne Bennett Under 14 Equitation, presented by Palm Beach International Academy, on Saturday. Moving forward, Rudnicki will continue to ride in the junior hunters and equitation, with her sights set on the major medal classes next year.
Commencing the day’s activities earlier in the morning, the Boggs Hill National Horse Show KHJA Equitation Championship brought a contingent of talented horses and riders to the forefront to compete for the tricolors over two rounds of riding. Athletes had the opportunity to jump at either the 2’6” height or the 3’ height, with the pack splitting in half to tackle their preferred fences. Up first, the 2’6” exhibitors took their turns around the Bobby Murphy-designed track, followed by the 3’ challengers, who ultimately proved to shine the brightest as the top three finishers each opted for the higher obstacles.
Headed into the flat phase, White, Melodie Robitaille, and Lilli Power each had garnered top scores to keep them in contention for the title with their respective mounts, but White’s faultless performance under saddle pushed her to the top of the scorecard, clinching the top spot on the podium as the 2019 Boggs Hill National Horse Show KHJA Equitation champion. Power and her own Wingman ultimately earned second position overall, followed by Robitaille and Coveted, owned by S&R Investment Group LLC.
A veteran equitation competitor and previously a coach, White took advantage of the opportunity provided by the National Horse Show to continue competing as an adult, which helped to allow her to remain partners with her own Scandeek, who she began riding in the equitation as a junior. Thanks to their longtime relationship, White and Scandeek have continued to accrue accolades in the adult classes, and earlier this year won the Ariat National Adult Medal during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show.
To learn more about the National Horse Show, click here.