Optical Illusion Makes Magic in USEA Preliminary Three-Day at the Virginia Horse Trials

Hope Nicyper-Meryman and Optical Illusion lead the victory gallop as winners of the Preliminary Three-Day. Leslie Mintz/USEA Photo

What could likely be the very last Classic Preliminary Level Event at the Virginia Horse Trials concluded today in Lexington, Virginia. Seven riders entered the SmartPak Equine/USEA Preliminary Three-Day Event, five started the competition, four completed all the phases of Endurance Day, but only one took home the blue ribbon.

Seventeen-year-old Hope Nicyper-Meryman traveled with her own ten-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Optical Illusion, from Pine Plains, New York to tackle the Preliminary Three-Day. Despite being the youngest competitor by nearly ten years, Hope proved she had what it took to win by adding no jumping penalties to her dressage score of 39.8.

“I competed in the Training Three-Day competition at GMHA about four years ago and absolutely loved it,” said Hope. “So when I was thinking about a goal for this year I looked at the calendar and decided that the Preliminary Three-Day would work well with my school schedule. I have been preparing since January, and it was all worth it as there is nothing like the feeling of doing steeplechase on a fast Thoroughbred.”

Hope’s love of horses began at birth, and she has been riding since she was three-years-old when she got her first pony for Christmas. Optical Illusion “Reggie” came into her life about two years ago when her trainer at the time, Darrah Alexander, introduced him to Hope. Reggie originally was owned by Charlie Plumb. Hope believes that “Reggie is the horse of a lifetime; I have been on a total high for the last two years.”

Hope and Reggie recently placed second at the CIC1* at Poplar Place Farm and are planning on moving up to Intermediate at Millbrook in August after Reggie gets a nice long vacation this summer.

“I would absolutely recommend the long format,” concluded Hope. “It teaches you horsemanship and sportsmanship. Riding a horse on cross-country after completing a steeplechase round is a totally different feeling for your horse – it teaches you to go forward to the fences rather than picking continually to the base. I would love for all riders to participate in a long format competition before moving up to the next level.”

For her win in the SmartPak Equine/USEA Preliminary Three-Day, Hope took home a SmartPak Wellfleet Eventer Bridle and a Fleeceworks Saddle Pad Set. In addition she was entered in a drawing to win a year’s supply of SmartPaks or a Stackhouse Saddle.

Second place went to Joanne Gelarden and her 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Shackleton. The pair hails from Boyce, Virginia and are long format veterans having competed at the CCI1* at Morven Park in 2008. Joanne maintained her second place standing throughout the competition despite adding seven time penalties on Phase A and lowering three rails in show jumping.

Erin Kimmer aboard Coltrane and Babette Lenna riding Little Oliver finished third and fourth respectively rounding out the competitors who completed the P3D.

The Virginia Horse Trials Preliminary Three-Day is part of the SmartPak Equine/USEA Classic Series which is comprised of four events at the Preliminary Level and 12 events at the Training Level.

© 2010 United States Eventing Association

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