Gladstone, NJ - Day two of the 2012 USEF Dressage Festival of Champions produced the first three National Champions of 2012 in the Young Rider, Junior, and Pony Rider Divisions. It also featured the Grand Prix National Dressage Championship which also serves as the USEF Selection Trial for the 2012 Olympic Games - which finishes next Saturday. Steffen Peters refused to loosen his grip on the Grand Prix title with Legolas 92 - repeating yesterday's winning effort to close out the first half of that championship. Peters' student, Brandi Roenick, who won the 2008 National Junior Dressage Championship with Pretty Lady, returned four years later to take the Young Rider National Dressage Championship with her beloved mare. Ayden Uhlir won the USEF National Junior Dressage Championships with Sjapoer - holding on to her lead from yesterday. Barbara Davis won the final championship of weekend one, claiming victory in the National Pony Rider Dressage Championship.
All of the rides are available via video on demand here: www.usefnetwork.com which is live streaming all weekend and a full report is available below.
National Young Rider Dressage Championship
Roenick was the first National Champion of the day to be crowned, as she never looked in doubt of the win; finishing more than three-points ahead of second place finisher, Mackinzie Pooley. Roenick (San Diego, CA ) was the winner of Saturday's FEI Young Rider Team Test and again topped the field in the FEI Young Rider Individual Test. She rode her own Pretty Lady to a 73.421% Sunday and finished on an overall average of 72.579% in the National Young Rider Dressage Championship.
For a second day the 14-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood mare, presented an accurate, forward test making them the undisputed winner. Despite having been pleased with her performance in the Team Test yesterday, Roenick believed her effort was even better Sunday.
"Today I felt that I had a lot more power in my trot work and she was more engaged and wanting to do more than yesterday. Yesterday I was just blown away with my ride but today she was giving so much more than she did yesterday, so I have no complaints or would change anything about it."
Seventeen-year-old Roenick has been riding Pretty Lady for four years and done nearly all of the training on the mare herself. She believes their longtime connection enabled them to produce such good performances over the two days.
"It's really a great feeling because when I got her as a baby, I trained her myself with my mom. Just getting to this point and being able to know that I achieved this from taking her [from the beginning] to learning single flying changes is truly a great feeling," said Roenick. "She's just amazing, so it's a really great feeling that I trained my own horse to this and got her to where she is today with the help of my trainers."
Pooley rode Deena Smith's Brigadier to third-place Saturday but went one better today to earn Reserve Championship honors. She and the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, produced a fluid test to score 71.447% Sunday, finishing on a championship average of 69.105%.
Pooley (Coto De Caza, CA) began riding Brigadier this year after her longtime partner Jonkara was retired last year. She credits her improvement from the Team Test to the Individual Test to a shorter warm-up Sunday.
"I warmed him up a little less today and he was just very, very good. He had the go that he didn't have yesterday." Pooley continued, "It's a big jump and I've only had him for seven months and I'm a full time college student, so it's a little different this year than other years. It's amazing for me to even be sitting here."
Genay Vaughn (Elk Grove, CA) finished in third place with Starr Vaughn Equestrian Inc's Donarweiss GGF on a two-day average of 67.869. She was very happy with the 11-year-old Hanoverian stallion that was produced by Chris Hickey and Hilltop Farm.
"He's a really good boy. He was a lot more uphill and really going. We had a good test. Chris Hickey trained him since he was a baby. Someone recommended him for me since I'm really small. Chris let me try him and we fit perfectly."
Vaughn also finished sixth with Michele Vaughn's Waranja.
National Junior Dressage Championship
Ayden Uhlir maintained her lead in the National Junior Dressage Championship on Sjaepor with some improvements to her strategy from yesterday. It paid off and the 17-year-old Texan continued to impress the judges. With the Individual Test completing the Championship, Uhlir and her 12-year-old Dutch gelding added a little bit more to the test today and the strategy paid off with a score of 71.237%. They were the only pair to go above 70% and scored their first National Championship in the process.
"I felt like the judges wanted more impulsion and cadence in the ride and I really tried to go for it in the extensions and the overall cadence of the canter work and the trot," said Uhlir.
The test proved challenging for many of the competitors but Uhlir and Sjaepor handled the difficult transitions and showed their strengths. Despite the increasing temperatures in Gladstone, Sjapoer thrived in the big atmosphere.
"He is very much used to the heat since we're from Texas," said Uhlir. "This is nothing compared to Texas weather. He handles it a lot better than the cold weather."