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Alexander and Tirador Win Titles at US Jr. Hunter Championship West Coast

Ashton Alexander & Cafe de Colombia (Captured Moments Photography)

Lexington, Ky. – The best junior riders attended the 2014 US Junior Hunter National Championship West Coast July 21-22 in hopes of being crowned the Overall Grand Champion. Over two days of tough competition at the Del Mar Horsepark in Del Mar, Calif., riders competed in three phases: Classic Round, Under Saddle, and Handy Hunter. The Under Saddle phase counts for 20% of the rider’s overall score, while both the Classic Round and Handy Hunter count for 40%. The judging panel of Scott Hofstetter, John Roper, and Christina Schlusemeyer observed the riders, with courses designed by Skip Bailey being a highlight each day. Ashton Alexander came away with the coveted title in the 3’6″ Championship, while Sabrina Tirador claimed top honors in the new 3’3″ Championship.

3’6″ Championship

Alexander (Ocala, Fla.) and Cafe de Colombia, a 12-year-old Belgian mare owned by Doublethink LLC, earned an overall score of 266.60 to claim the Overall Grand Champion title. With scores of 263.00 in the Classic phase, 267.00 in the Under Saddle phase, and 270.00 in the Handy phase, Alexander ended up on top of the leaderboard with Cafe de Colombia, who was also named the Leading Mare of the West Coast edition of the Championship. In the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division, the pair also scored top honors by a 13.2-point margin.

“It was very exciting,” said Alexander. “It was my first time out in California. I had a great time and a great experience. It was very close and no one knew [who would win] until the end.”

Only one point behind Alexander was Destry Spielberg and Illusion, making them the Overall 3’6″ Reserve Grand Champions. Earning respective scores of 264.00, 260.00, and 270.00 in the Classic, Under Saddle, and Handy phases, Spielberg (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Dogwood Hill LLC’s 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding finished with an overall score of 265.60. The pair had a 10-point victory in the Small Junior 16-17 division to claim the Champion title.

In the Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under division, Grace Prochilo (Wilson, Wyo.) and Irasir was steadiest over the three rounds and earned the Championship.

The Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under Championship went to Hunter Seibel (Woodside, Calif.) and C Coast Z, a 14-year-old gelding owned by Mountain Home Stables.

3’3″ Championship

The competition for the Championship in the combined 3’3″ division, new to the Championship on both coasts in 2014, was about as close as they come. After the three rounds it was Sabrina Tirador (Tustin, Calif.) and her own Holsteiner gelding, Mercury who prevailed with a score of 237.40, only fractions of a point over Reserve Champions Eliza Foster (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and her Oldenburg mare, Paloma, who finished with 237.20. Tirador and Mercury earned scores of 222.00 in the Classic phase, 238.00 in the Under Saddle phase, and 252.50 in the Handy phase to win the Overall Grand Championship title.

“It is my last year as a junior, so winning at Junior Hunter Finals was very special and meaningful to me,” said Tirador. “Mercury was great over the course of the championship. He was super responsive and consistent. Overall, it was a great experience and I couldn’t have done it without my parents and trainers Richard Slocum, David Bustillos, and Allison LaJoie.”

To find out more information about the US Junior Hunter National Championships, visit www.usef.org.

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