Jacksonville, FL - September 20, 2014 - There was no room for error today at the Southeast Medal Finals as riders were within tenths of a point of one another in their ride to the podium. In the Phelps Media Group Southeast Junior Medal Finals, Ashton Alexander and Fernway Park narrowly took the top call, and in the Southeast Adult 3' Medal Finals, Charity Durgin and Lead Story also pulled off the lead by a tight margin.
Alexander and 16-year-old Fernway Park, owned by Don Stewart out of Ocala, Florida, had the blue ribbon in sight going into the second round of the Phelps Media Group Southeast Junior Medal Finals. The second round course incorporated jumps that riders had seen in the opening round, yet were positioned backward and at differing angles.
"I'm blessed to have such an amazing horse that knows how to do all of it. In the opening round, we had final scores of 85 and 86. I had a slightly higher score coming in from the first round, but Madison [Butehorn] had a higher score than I did. However, with a combined total, I was able to move up to first," said Alexander. "Grant is Don [Stewart's], and I started showing him in October of last year. He's my best friend, and I love him to death. He has the best personality, and he has the cutest expression of how he goes."
Alexander trains with Don Stewart and finished the Phelps Media Group Southeast Junior Medal Finals with a score of 335.5 points. Alexander and Grant will compete tomorrow in the ASPCA/NHSAA Maclay Region 3 Championship Finals. Madison Butehorn from Naples, Florida aboard Icarus, finished with a total score of 333.5, just behind Alexander. Butehorn trains with Alan Korotkin of Castlewood Farms in Wellington, Florida. A third place finish of 322 points went to Fiona Steinmetz aboard her mount Crimson Z. Steinmetz hails from Tallahassee and trains with Andrea Duffy.
Earlier in the day, Charity Durgin and Lead Story took the blue ribbon in the Southeast Adult 3' Medal Finals. Going into the second round, Durgin, who hails from Woodstock, Georgia and trains with Sharon Enteen, and Lindsey Tomeu, who rides out of West Palm Beach, Florida and trains with Allison Sweetnam, were neck and neck.
"[Lead Story] is a 13-year-old Oldenburg and is owned by Fit to Print Farm. I had a great first round, and my second round was amazing. He was quite a wonderful partner," said Durgin.
After both rounds, Durgin and Lead Story edged out Tomeu aboard Take Note, finishing with a total score of 384 and 383 respectively. The third place finish went to Reily Reiker of Ocala, Florida who trains with Don Stewart.
The competition continued when Siena Vasan from Boca Raton, FL nabbed the blue ribbon in the Tenney's Custom Saddlery Children's/Adult 2'6" Medal Finals. Aboard Quasa Granda, Vasan had no problem with the course, as her horse can easily jump a 1.60m. She was the last of six riders to return for the shortened test, and she flew through the course with flying colors.
"I came to the Southeast Medal Finals last year and did the Children's ponies, and we were originally going to get another pony. But after seeing the kids in the Maclay, I got a horse," explained Vasan. "Coming back this year, I wanted to be successful since this is where it all started, and [Quasa Granda] is such a good horse. He's really sweet and friendly and is super smooth."
Following right behind Vasan, Olivia Albright from Winter Park, Florida, earned the second place ribbon in the Tenney's Custom Saddlery Children's/Adult 2'6" Medal Finals. Sase Morris, of Weston, Florida, came in third.
Tomorrow the 2014 Southeast Medal Finals will live stream the ASPCA / NHSAA Alfred B. Maclay Region 3 Championships on the web. Join in live from the Jacksonville Equestrian Center beginning at 8 a.m. Click here to watch or go to www.southeastmedalfinals.com for more information.