Elfenfeuer and Pikko del Cerro HU Seize Early Leads at 2012 USEF National Dressage Championships

Alice Tarjan and Elfenfeuer (PhelpsPhotos.com)

Wayne, IL – The 2012 USEF National Dressage Championships got underway Thursday in Ring 2 at the Lamplight Equestrian Center with competition held in the Young Horse, Developing Horse and Medal Final divisions. In the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championship Five-Year-Old division Alice Tarjan and Elfenfeuer jumped out to the early lead after the Preliminary Test. While in the USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage Championship supported by Hilda Gurney and Carol Lavell Lisa Wilcox and Pikko Del Cerro HU head into Saturday’s Final Test in the pole position.

The morning began with optional Warm-Up classes for competitors in the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals presented by Dressage Today 13 & Under division and the Four-Year-Old division of the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championship. In Medal Final competition Tillie Jones (Lincoln, NB) riding her own MGRM Darby O’Gill claimed top-honors Thursday. In four-year-old competition A. J. Stapleton’s Dilona ridden by Anna Marek was the winner of the Warm-Up with an overall score of 8.46. Both divisions will crown champions Friday.

Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championship

Tarjan and Elfenfeuer (Florencio I-Elfensonne by Sion) where the first combination to perform their Preliminary Test Thursday afternoon; setting a standard no one else in the 14 horse field could rival. The Oldenburg mare owned by Tarjan (Oldwick, NJ) scored an overall 7.66 after earning high marks for submission, 8.0, and 7.8 for their canter and general impression.  They also scored 7.7 and 7.0 for their trot and walk respectively in the Preliminary Test, which counts for 40% of the overall Championship score.

Elfenfeuer is competing in her first Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championship after having bypassed the annual event as a four-year-old. Heading into Saturday’s Final Test, Tarjan is hoping the mare will be more settled in her second Championship test.

“She was really tight and on the muscle (today); it was not our best test. (Saturday) I hope she is a little more relaxed and we can have fun.”

Placing second on Thursday was Jocelyn Hamann (Reno, NV) and Casanova (Lauwersmeer Laka-Abolien by Indiaan) earning an overall total of 7.64. The pinto KWPN gelding scored 7.0, 7.9 and 8.0 for their walk, trot and canter respectively. The pair also earned solid marks for their submission, 7.5, and general impression, 7.8.

The champion in the Five-Year-Old division will be crowned Saturday following the Final Test, for which the remaining 60% of the overall score will be awarded.

USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage Championship supported by Hilda Gurney and Carol Lavell

Lisa Wilcox and Pikko Del Cerro HU (PhelpsPhotos.com)

Pikko del Cerro HU (Pik L-Rohweena by Rohdiamant) ridden by Wilcox cruised to the win in the FEI Intermediaire II Test by nearly four percentage points. Horses Unlimited’s nine-year-old Hanoverian stallion, a Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Program graduate, impressive powerful gaits but mistakes in the extended canter and the one-time changes kept them from earning higher than the 70.746% they scored.

“I’m very, very happy the mistakes were mine… He was not quite in front of my leg like I needed him to be,” said the Loxahatchee, FL resident.

Wilcox feels confident that she can fix the mistakes from today in Saturday’s test with the 2011 USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship presented by The Dutta Corp. and Performance Sales International.

“I was very happy with my passage-piaffe tour. The extended was unfortunate and we’ll clean that up without a problem. The ones are usually good and clean, so we’ll just clean that up a bit as well for Saturday.”

Riding to second place on Thursday was Endel Ots (Wellington, FL) and Taunia Reed’s Agastrofos (Briar 899-Hera by Nocturne 877). The 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood demonstrated expressive and powerful gaits to score 66.842%.

Competitors in the USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage Championship supported by Hilda Gurney and Carol Lavell return to the ring Saturday to perform the USEF Developing Grand Prix Test, counting for the remaining 60% of their championship score.

Competition resumes in Ring 2 at the Lamplight Equestrian Center Friday at 8am CST with the Warm-Up class for the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals presented by Dressage Today 14-18 division.

For Live Scoring and Results, click here.

For news and photos from the competition, click here.

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