Katie Tyler and Megan McDermott Claim Junior/Amateur-Owner Classics

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Katie Tyler and Seattle 6 won the $10,000 SJHOF High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Photos by David Mullinix Photography

East Dorset, Vermont – Week four of the 2012 Vermont Summer Festival concluded on Sunday, July 29, with two exciting Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classics featured in the grand prix ring.  Katie Tyler, 19, of North Kingstown, RI, rode Seattle 6 to victory in the $10,000 SJHOF High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic while Megan McDermott, 16, of New Milford, CT, topped the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic riding La Vie Este Belle.  The six-week Vermont Summer Festival equestrian competition is running at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT, from July 4 through August 12, 2012.

Course designer Ken Krome of Westminster, MD set challenging tracks for Sunday’s Classic competitions.  Just two out of 17 entries jumped off in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic while three out of 27 made it to the deciding round in the Low Classic.  A tricky rollback turn to a plank vertical seemed to make the difference in speed, as some entries chose to make the turn to the right, while others opted to turn left.

In the $10,000 SJHOF High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, Ashley Foster and Katie Tyler were the only two riders to advance to the jump-off.  Foster of Brookeville, MD, rode Raf LLC’s Indy to a clear jump-off round in 38.46 seconds to finish the class in second place, while Tyler and Seattle 6 finished in 37.18 seconds for the win.

Seattle 6 is a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare that Tyler purchased from two-time U.S. Olympic Team gold medalist McLain Ward two years ago.  Following their win, Tyler spoke about her relationship with the mare and how much she has learned from riding her.

“She is a really good girl,” Tyler said.  “She is really special because I have never really had a jumper before and she has taught me not only how to ride a jumper, but how to really ride.  She is a hard ride for me because she is kind of hot and I get really nervous and frazzled, but she just takes care of me.  She is really careful; it is almost kind of hard because we don’t want to scare her since she is so careful, but she is just a good girl.”

In the jump-off, Foster went first and chose to make the left-hand turn in the rollback, while Tyler chose to turn right after watching the riders navigate the course in the previous class.

“My trainer (Shachine Belle) and I were debating whether to do the right-hand turn or the left and when I watched the Low Classic jump-off, the right turn seemed to be faster,” Tyler explained.  “Then my horse was also really good about galloping off away from that plank coming to the last jump.  We made up a lot of time there too, but I think overall the right turn saved us a little time.”

Tyler has been training with Belle for two years and comes to Vermont every year for the first four weeks of competition.  Commenting on the show, she stated, “I love the scenery; that is my favorite part.  It is just so pretty and we have a condo at Stratton, so it is nice that we don’t have to stay in a hotel room for four weeks.  I always came to Vermont when I was younger to ski, so it is kind of like a second home town.”

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Megan McDermott and La Vie Este Belle won the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic

In the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, Megan McDermott and La Vie Este Belle were the first pair to jump-off and posted a clear round in 35.70 seconds, which would hold on for the win.  Adeline Audette of Fall River, MA, also cleared the short course riding Missy Clark/North Run’s Norlevus and finished second with a time of 35.94 seconds.  Alison Cooney of Chappaqua, NY, guided Gabby Slome’s Accorda R to the fastest finish in 34.91 seconds, but a rail cost the pair four faults to place third.

Sunday’s class was La Vie Este Belle’s first time showing in a Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic and the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare jumped impressively for her rider and owner Megan McDermott.  McDermott explained that she purchased the mare at the end of this year’s winter circuit in Florida and noted that the horse had previously been competing in the Low Children’s division.

“This is only her third time showing in this division,” McDermott said.  “We have been trying to move her up a little bit and she has really stepped up to the plate.”

“She takes you a little,” McDermott said of the ride.  “She is kind of forward, but she is very adjustable, too.  She is a very good girl.”

On her plan in the jump-off, McDermott noted, “We had not walked a number from fence one to two, but I heard someone saying eight strides, so I thought that maybe that was there.  I just got a big canter to one and tried to go direct.  I was a little slow into the in and out, but she was really good; she really tried for me.  There was debate about whether to turn right or left after the in and out to the wall.  It had originally looked like right was faster, but we decided that they were equal and turning left would set you up better for the turn after the next jump, so we went left back to the plank and then just took a shot at the last fence and she was there for me, so that was good.”

McDermott has trained with Darren Graziano for almost two years and this is her third year coming to the Vermont Summer Festival.  The first time was with ponies, and last year was her first time competing in the jumpers.

“It is a really nice atmosphere,” she said of the show.  “I like the town around it; it is more laid back then a lot of other shows, and all the rings are close together, which is nice.”

Also showing on Sunday, Alissa Kinsey of Danville, NH, took the top prize in week four’s $2,500 M&S Adult Jumper Classic riding her talented mare Grisset.  The pair also won Saturday’s $2,500 NAL/WIHS Adult Jumper Classic.  They have been a dominant force in the division this year, also winning both Classics during weeks one and two.

Young rider Nina Montross of Bedford, NY, also doubled up on wins in the children’s division this week.  Montross won Saturday’s $1,500 NAL/WIHS Children’s Jumper Classic riding Caprifol and topped Sunday’s $1,500 M&S Children’s Jumper Classic aboard Voigtsdorfs Ohio, both owned by Palm Meadow Farm LLC.  Montross and Voigtsdorfs Ohio also won the M&S Classic during week two.

Offering more than $750,000 in prize money, the Vermont Summer Festival is the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.  The first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix.  The $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held during the sixth and final week on Saturday, August 11.  The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, are held each Thursday.

Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday.  Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children.  All of the gate receipts benefit the a number of Manchester area non-profit organizations, including the Mark Skinner Library, Friends Foundation for MEMS, Community Food Cupboard, and Second Chance Animal Center.

For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont.  The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL).  For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: info@vt-summerfestival.com or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.

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